Pony Blow openstoday’s gaggle by cracking on John Bolton.
Q John Bolton is up on the Hill, and he just said that the agreement — firstly, that he’s not a fan of the agreement, and that the North will be re-writing it every day it’s in existence, it’s a fantasy, it’s rewarding the North and sending a horrible message to the world about the U.S.’ stand on weapons of mass destruction.
MR. SNOW: Well, we stood by John Bolton in his time at the United Nations, including when he advocated the six-party agreement — the September 2005 agreement that, in fact, has been enacted today. One of the things that John Bolton did note is that there are carrots and sticks in the agreement, and as he said in October of ’06, which was just a few months ago, the carrots have been there, in a sense, for North Korea of the possibility of ending its isolation, ending the terrible impoverishment of its people. It’s the leadership that can’t seem to find the carrots that are out there. We think that the leadership has begun to find the carrots. We’re going to discover in due course whether they, in fact, are going to fulfill their part of the agreement. However, as we’ve already said up here, it is a trust-but-verify situation. This is not something where we are simply going to give things to the North Koreans on a timeline. This is all conditioned on their behavior.
Q In what way is this not rewarding the North for bad behavior?
MR. SNOW: Mainly because what we have said all along is, you guys have got to come back to the table without preconditions and, furthermore, you’ll have to agree to get rid of the nuclear program.
General Pace Didn’t Say What He Said
Q Tony, on Iran, General Peter Pace is now saying that he was not aware that this briefing was going ahead in Baghdad, where military officers were talking about Iran’s influence in Iraq this past weekend. How could the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs not know that military officers would be briefing in Baghdad?
MR. SNOW: I’ll refer that back to General Pace, frankly. But I’ll tell you, what General Pace —
Q But did the White House loop him in? Did the White House loop in the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?
MR. SNOW: I believe that this was a Pentagon briefing. Again, it typically is something that when the Pentagon is doing it, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs knows about it.
Let me tell you what — I think a lot of people are trying to whomp up a fight here that doesn’t exist.
The Quds force is, in fact, an official arm of the Iranian government and, as such, the government bears responsibility and accountability for its actions, as you would expect of any sovereign government.
And I think that’s pretty clear. I mean, General Pace, again, if you go through his —
Q No, you didn’t say that, though — that’s where you said “people are trying to whomp up a fight.” With all due respect, it’s General Pace’s comments, not anyone else’s, where he said —
MR. SNOW: No, go back —
Q Well, he said — let me just say, he said, “It is clear that Iranians are involved and it’s clear that materials from Iran are involved. But I would not say but what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit.” Are you saying that you, from this podium, know more than the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
MR. SNOW: I am telling you that — I’m telling you what the intelligence indicates.
Caught Contradicting What Pace Actually Said, Pony Attacks The Gaggler
Q So is he not in the loop? I’m just trying to understand why there’s a contradiction, where the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs —
MR. SNOW: I’ll tell you what — I just know that there’s — Ed, calm down. I know you’re excited, your voice is rising, your pace is increasing —
Q I don’t need to calm down. I’m telling you that he is saying this; I’m not.
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m telling you I talked with him. Okay?
MR. SNOW: And I’ve talked with him —
Q Well, we’ll follow up with him, as well.
MR. SNOW: You better, because I think you will find out that the intelligence does indicate, as he said, this stuff was — let me pose you with two possibilities. But first, the intelligence indicates that the Quds forces, which are part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, are associated with this.
Nobody Is Dissuaded By Pony’s Tactless Attacks
Q Right. But on the substance of it, the briefers over the weekend said that these parts are sent to Iraq with the approval of senior Iranian officials. And the bottom line is he seems to be contradicting that.
MR. SNOW: Well, I think what General Pace may have been saying — in fact, I know what he’s saying — and this is where we get to the rhetorical question I was asking you before — do we have a signed piece of paper from Mr. Khomeini or from President Ahmadinejad signing off on this? No. But are the Quds forces part of the government? The answer is yes.
So the question is, I think this ends up being a semantic dispute about senior levels of the government or the government. And the fact is, the government knows about it.
Q Okay. But isn’t it really a question about whether or not you have strong evidence? When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff seem to be saying something different than the White House, does that raise questions about how solid this evidence is?
MR. SNOW: No, because you’ve got — you have explosively formed penetrators. He says they exist, correct?
Q I didn’t see that in this particular quote, but —
MR. SNOW: Well, no — he said that there are weapons —
Q He says that there are projectiles manufactured in Iraq.
MR. SNOW: Okay, all right. So, okay, so there’s no doubt about that, correct? There are Iranians in Iraq. There’s no question about that, correct?
MR. SNOW: All right, so where’s the credibility problem, in terms of — are you saying —
Q In terms of the Iranian government being behind it. That’s not — nobody’s disputing whether it’s manufactured in Iran. That’s what — you keep changing what my question is.
MR. SNOW: No, no, I’m trying to clarify your question, because I think this is a —
Q I don’t need it clarified, I’m trying to tell you — I know what my question is, and basically, he’s saying that he doesn’t see evidence that the Iranian government is clearly behind it. That’s my — I’ve asked that three or four times. You haven’t answered that. You’re saying the Iranian government is behind it.
MR. SNOW: Okay, let me put it this way — I’ll say it one more time. The Quds force is part of the Iranian government. The Quds force is behind it, is associated with it.
Q Okay —
MR. SNOW: All right? Thank you.
Pages Are A Touchy Subject Among Republikkkans These Days
Q Let me follow up on this, because we have a situation where right now, a lot of the American people are hearing a lot about Iran and whether the government is involved in sending the weapons across or not. And now it would appear that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the administration seem to be on two different pages.
MR. SNOW: We’re not. And that’s why I’m going to let General Pace speak for himself. We’re not on a different page.
Q But it seems to be a reasonable expectation the American people can have, to get some kind of explanation for how you can have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the administration on two separate pages.
MR. SNOW: We’re not on separate pages. The explanation —
Q Certainly, we seem to be, from what was said.
MR. SNOW: I know, because everybody is trying to get into semantic —
Q But yesterday you said the administration is confident the report on Iran is accurate and the weaponry is coming with knowledge of the Iranian government.
MR. SNOW: Of the government. And I still —
Q But now you’re saying that the Quds forces, which is part of the Iranian government — you’re sort of parsing.
MR. SNOW: Well, I was parsing yesterday. I’m trying to be careful about how we do this. The question is, do we know that some particular senior official signed off? No, it’s an opaque government; it’s not a transparent government. But on the other hand, this is part of the Revolutionary Guard, which is part of the government, and therefore you do hold the government responsible.
One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other
Q So somebody who reads General Pace’s quote, and says, hmm, that’s different than what Tony Snow said yesterday — they’re wrong?
MR. SNOW: Yes. Yes. And I think what’s — again, we’ll let General — here’s the —
Q So did Pace retract what he said when he spoke to you?
MR. SNOW: No, he didn’t retract because what he said was accurate, as well.
Q Yesterday you said, “In that regime there are not freelancers.”
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q Do you stick by that statement, and thereby drawing it to the larger —
MR. SNOW: Again, let me just — here’s your rhetorical question: What’s more frightening, the notion that they are freelancing or that they’re not?
Q So they might.
MR. SNOW: No, I’m just posing a question for your consideration.
Q But then how solid is the information, though? I think the bottom line question still is if the Chairman —
MR. SNOW: Ed, the information is —
Q He’s expressing doubts. He’s a General. He knows this better than any of us in this room.
Pony Turns On The Smarm
Q Okay, but, again, when we’re talking about — can you clarify, though, did General Pace — you said he had a phone conversation with him.
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q Was he aware that this briefing was going to happen? That his own —
MR. SNOW: I actually — I did not ask him whether he knew — I did not ask the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs whether he knew that a Pentagon briefing was going to take place in Baghdad. Forgive me. I didn’t ask the process question.
Q Well, he’s the one who told reporters that he didn’t know about it.
Shot Themselves In The Foot — Again
Q Do you think that the off-the-record, low-level Iran briefing has backfired? The reason I ask that is because on the one hand you avoid the comparison with Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations, but at the same time, what you’ve ended up with is the sense that no one senior in the administration seems to be willing to go on the record. And I understand that one of the people — not all of the people, but one of the people would have been unable to brief; the other people wouldn’t have been unable to brief.
MR. SNOW: No, look, again, I think what’s happening is that everybody is trying to create a narrative here of something that’s — look, the problem before, nobody found weapons of mass destruction. You cannot say that nobody didn’t — nobody found explosively formed penetrators. You’ve got pictures of the things. You know where they came from. There is no doubt about the central fact here: that you have an explosive device that’s being used to kill Americans.
So what everybody is trying to figure out now is what General Pace meant — it’s now being devolved into a process argument that overlooks the key fact, which is that weaponry made its way from Iran into Iraq and it’s killing Americans, and we’re going to try to stop the killing of Americans.
When Challenged On The “Key Fact”, Blow Has Nothing
Q Well, isn’t the key fact really not only that, but the key fact is, who is sending the weapons into Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, there is evidence that links Quds force to it. Now, again, the question —
Q Direct evidence?
MR. SNOW: I’m not going to characterize — let me put it this way, I will push all the evidentiary questions to DNI, but the finding of the intelligence community is that it’s, in fact, linked to the Quds forces.
Q That’s kind of a “no.”
MR. SNOW: No, it’s not. It’s one of those — because what you’re asking is for the nature and quality of classified evidence. I get my hands tied when I get — I don’t want to get too far in front of this, trying to give you any kind of characterization beyond what’s already on the public record.
Finally, In Today’s Edition of Your Daily Les, Kinsolving Is Obsessed With The Potty-Mouthed Bloggers
Q I have never heard you or any of your 10 predecessors — whom I have covered at that podium — use the obscene words for feces, fornication, semen, anus, and vagina, all of which words were used publicly by Melissa McEwan, who is still on the John Edwards presidential campaign staff because he refused to fire her. And my question, first: Surely the President would never put up with such public obscenity like former Senator Edwards is doing, would he?
MR. SNOW: Well, I don’t know about that, but the President expects his aides to behave in a seemly manner.