I dug back into Holden’s old posts for my latest over at SF: How long are we going to keep bombing Iraqis? How does the President intend to commemorate “Mission Accomplished” after five years of death and destruction? Is every Iraqi a terrorist? The President has said publicly several times, in two consecutive news conferences a few months ago, and you have said over and over again, we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap? Would the administration agree to … Continue reading Helen Thomas & Our Obsession With Tough Questions
Well, looks like we’re stuck with Tony Farto again today (hat-tip to montag for the nick), I guess no one else wanted to go to Crawford. Tony Farto Lectures A Former President Q President Carter amended his comments over the weekend, this morning, saying essentially he didn’t mean to say that the Bush administration’s foreign policy was the worst in history, he was talking about it more in comparison with Nixon’s foreign policy. Do you have any response to that? MR. FRATTO: I don’t think I have response — a specific response to that. I think it just highlights the … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Pony Blow Sets Helen Straight
MR. SNOW: Helen, to answer your question from this morning, the President met this morning by secure video teleconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and two members of the Presidency Council, Vice President Tariq Hashimi and Vice President Adel Mahdi. It’s the first time the President has met this group, the Prime Minister plus the Presidency Council, via secure teleconference.
Q Length —
MR. SNOW: It was about 40 minutes.
Q Did they discuss an exit strategy?
MR. SNOW: No. There was gratitude for America’s continued support.
Q Did they talk about the five British citizens who were —
MR. SNOW: No.
Q And do you have anything more on that?
MR. SNOW: No.
The Fifty Year War
Q Tony, on Iraq, for the gaggle you were asked about U.S. troops and just how long the presence would be there, the vision. And you compared it to the Korean model. Can you explain that?
MR. SNOW: Yes. It was actually a question that Helen raised and Helen used to create an analogy, but the President has used it before.
MS. THOMAS: Thank you. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: That is Helen Thomas, front row veteran. (Laughter.)
Q Spell it right. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: Here is — what the President means by that is that at some point you want to get to a situation in which the Iraqis have the capability to go ahead and handle the fundamental matters of security. You have the United States there in what has been described as an over-the-horizon support role so that if you need the ability to react quickly to major challenges or crises, you can be there, but the Iraqis are conducting the lion’s share of the business — as we have in South Korea, where for many years there have been American forces stationed there as a way of maintaining stability and assurance on the part of the South Korean people against a North Korean neighbor that is a menace.
Q For 50 years?
Q Now, the Korean model, you’ve got thousands of U.S. troops there for some 50 years. I mean, how is that comparison and vision in that —
MR. SNOW: Wendell just asked the same question. I don’t think — again, that’s not strictly comparable because what you have is a North Korea that continues to be a threat, I mean as we’ve seen with the development of nuclear weapons. We’re hoping that the Iraqis, in fact, are going to have the kind of security and stability they need so that what you’re really dealing with is the internal security of Iraq, rather than trying to provide reassurance against an external foe.
Q So you’re not suggesting that U.S. troops would be there for over 50 years in a —
MR. SNOW: No, no, I’m not. I don’t know. It is an unanswerable question, but I’m not making that suggestion.
Q You’re not suggesting that there’s a parallel between the Korean model today and the Iraqi model today in terms of U.S. force posture?
MR. SNOW: No, what I’m saying is you get to a point in the future where you want it to be a purely support role. But, no, of course, we’re in active combat.
Q Tony, while there’s no way of telling whether we’ll be there 50 years, or not, but isn’t there planning going on for a significant number of troops to be there for a long time? I mean, do you still consider this a long war?
MR. SNOW: Well, the war on terror is a long war.
Wait A Minute, I ThoughtDana Peroxide Didn’t Believe I Evolution Q Can I ask about Pakistan? Benazir Bhutto has said today that she won’t participate in a government with Musharraf, and that her party may consider dropping out of the elections if they’re held. The situation keeps sort of getting worse. What is — how are you guys looking at this? How do you see it? Do you see it as getting worse? MS. PERINO: I would describe it as evolving and changing over — almost every hour, there seems to be a different development. And the call by President … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
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.
Dana Peroxide Is Confused About Whether Henry Waxman Is A Senator Or A Congressman
Q Congressman Waxman is calling on the White House to release hundreds of pages of documents regarding convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He says that the White House has released several thousand pages, but there are about 600 that you have not released. Are you asserting executive privilege over these?
MS. PERINO: This is a letter that came to the press before it came to the White House, which is, unfortunately, the pattern of behavior of Senator — Representative Waxman’s committee.
There is — internal deliberations are protected under the law. Senator — Representative Waxman knows that.
Um, Maybe Janet Reno Was Not Attempting To Immunize The President From War Crimes Charges
Q If the committee wants more documents, are you going to send them?
MS. PERINO: Well, we have — Judge Mukasey actually responded to 495 questions for the record. Just as a comparison, before her nomination, Janet Reno didn’t have to answer a single question for the record before she was confirmed. We’ve gone over and beyond the call of duty here by any reasonable stretch.
Peance and Freeance! Part I: Q I guess I might ask if you’d please take it — last night, CBS “60 Minutes” had a horrific feature on the persecution of Christians and I guess other minorities in Iraq and it appears to be getting much worse. Is there anything that our administration — your administration can do to try to prevent this? MS. PERINO: Well, this is something that the President has raised with Prime Minister Maliki and our Ambassador is certainly aware of it. The President also spoke about it with the Pope in both of his meetings this … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle
Dana Sez We Can’t Outlaw Torture Q Has the President ever considered an executive order that would ban torture specifically? There’s a letter out now from a bipartisan group of former Secretaries of State, including Secretary of State George Shultz, with whom the President was a couple of weeks ago, and former Defense Secretaries and military officials saying that there should be an executive order with the force of law saying that torture is unacceptable. MS. PERINO: Well, we certainly respect the views of George Shultz. And one thing I would point to is that we have a set of … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle
Appeasement! Q Dana, is the United States considering opening an interest section in Iran? How close are we to reaching a decision on that, and why would the U.S. do that? MS. PERINO: Well, I think that Secretary Rice said it best yesterday when she said that there might be some ideas out — floating out there, but there’s nothing concrete at the moment. In regards to us reaching out and talking directly to the Iranians, President Bush goes out of his way every time he talks about the Iranian issue, which is often; he gets asked about it and … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Welcome Back, Ms. Peroxide MS. PERINO: Hello, everybody. I don’t have anything to start off with, so — Q The stock market is down, the oil prices are up. I take it that this wasn’t the outcome you would have wanted from the energy summit. Q Yes, things are going to hell in a hand basket. MS. PERINO: Will attribute that to Bill Plante. (Laughter.) Look, look back to what we said going into the conference, which is that this is going to take a long time for us to deal with. There’s no magic wand, it’s not going to … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Let’s Drill For Oil InTony Farto’s Head Q Durbin said on the floor the other day that there’s oil leases on millions and millions of acres offshore that are just not being used and not being tapped. Why not — MR. FRATTO: There are lots of reasons. I mean, one is that you don’t just drop a drill into — whether it’s offshore or on property — and hope that oil comes out. It takes years and years of geological study, environmental impact regulations that you have to deal with. You want to make sure there is actually oil there … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
ShorterTony Farto: It’s Clear! No, It’s Not Clear! Wait, Mommie!!!!! Q On the President’s offshore oil statement today, it didn’t seem like he really wanted to cooperate much with Congress. He’s calling them obstructionists, and blaming them for the high price of oil. Where do you come up with the idea earlier that he wanted to work closely with Congress on this? MR. FRATTO: No, we certainly do want to work closely with Congress. And I think the point is, the only way to get this done, to get the moratorium lifted so that we can begin drilling in the … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Jeebus, We’re Stuck WithTony Farto Today And He Does Not Like Ponies Q A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the President’s disapproval rating has now reached 68 percent. That’s the highest disapproval rating since Gallop’s first in 1938. Any thoughts on that? MR. FRATTO: No, I don’t think we’ve commented on polls and I don’t think there’s a good reason to start now. Q I mean, what would you say to Americans who — MR. FRATTO: We don’t base what we try to do here by polls. We know people have lots of different views of what’s going on … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Shorter Dana: No Q Is there any approach that the administration can take to deal with Zimbabwe, what’s going on in Zimbabwe, other than condemnation? MS. PERINO: I would — make sure that you have a chance to look at the briefing today by Ambassador James McGee, who is our Ambassador to Zimbabwe. He did an on-the-record briefing earlier today and said that they’re going to look at the full suite of diplomatic tools that they have available to them. But there’s no doubt that the situation in Zimbabwe is worsening, and it was already a terrible situation. Dana Channels … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Dana Peroxide Refuses To To Say Whether Or Not Chimpy Hyped The Intelligence
Q Dana, maybe — it’s been a couple of hours since the Senate report came out, so I just wanted to give you a chance on camera to talk a little bit about Senate Democrats — I know Republicans are disagreeing on the Hill — but Senate Democrats are alleging that it’s not that intelligence was wrong, but that the administration maybe exaggerated some intelligence and maybe left out some key caveats about that intelligence in the run-up to the war. And I wonder, for your reaction, especially since Scott McClellan — it’s not just Democrats, but Scott McClellan made a similar claim in his book.
MS. PERINO: Well, one, I would say that the issue of pre-war intelligence on Iraq has been thoroughly reviewed over the years by the Congress, as well as the independent WMD Commission. The majority report today is a selective view. And as you just said, the minority, the Republicans, have their own report, and I would encourage everyone to look at that as well.
Q Senator Rockefeller also specifically said today, he used the word “catastrophe” and said that if the administration had been more careful with the intelligence, we may have been able to avoid this catastrophe, talking about the war in Iraq. How do you react to a statement like that?
MS. PERINO: Well, again, I think that the President and administration officials and the Congress were all working from the same intelligence and acting on the same information. And when the intelligence community tells you this — gives you information, you have an obligation to look at it.
Little Scottie McClellan: Big Poo-Poo Head
Q Dana, following on that, in the release from the Senate Democrats, their message — the first sentence says that this report confirms former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s account of how the Bush administration led the nation to war through a propaganda campaign. What’s your reaction to that?
MS. PERINO: Scott, by his very own admission, wasn’t there at the time. He was the Deputy Press Secretary for Domestic Affairs. He has said, as I understand it, that looking back, even though he wasn’t there, reading Bob Woodward’s book, this is how he came to his conclusion.
So I think that the Senate Democrats and the Republicans took a lot of — look, I don’t know how well this report would stand up in terms of the processes. I know that the Republicans on Capitol Hill have a lot of beef with how it was taken — how it was done.
And so, when it comes to Scott, I would just remind you that he was the Deputy Press Secretary for Domestic Affairs. He said that upon reflection, looking back at how the war was packaged — and that’s his words — he disagrees with that. That’s fine, that’s his opinion. It doesn’t change the fact that the information that the President has, the information he was given by the intelligence community — he based that on the facts that he was given; he based his decisions based on the facts that he was given, and a political judgment. The fact that the intelligence turned out to be wrong on WMD does not mean that anyone purposefully lied. And that is the insinuation by some on Capitol Hill, and by a former colleague. And that’s why we were so saddened and disappointed and hurt by his words.
Q Can I follow on that? With all due respect, press secretaries are authorized to speak for a President. Scott spoke on the war issues, even before — that happened before he was Press Secretary, just as you’re speaking to the intelligence process and how it was reformed before you became Press Secretary. And I was unaware that Scott was limited to domestic affairs. I think those of us that covered him felt that we could go to him on all matter of —
MS. PERINO: Let me be a little bit more precise. The issue is, if I could just — I’ll delve a little bit more into the detail of it — is that — it’s the question of — and I served as the Deputy as well. I didn’t sit in on national security meetings as the Deputy Press Secretary when I dealt with domestic affairs, and neither did Scott. That’s my only point on that. In terms of looking back at issues of 2001 and 2002 and 2003, when intelligence was reviewed, those are the places where he wasn’t. And he says that in his book and he’s said it in interviews since.
Old News, Move On
Q But you understand the differences they’re making, that they think that the claims — understanding that the intelligence was wrong — but that the claims went far beyond what the intelligence community was giving the White House, and that it ignored significant dissent within the intelligence community — the White House.
MS. PERINO: That dissent, amongst experts within the intelligence community at some levels, did not reach the President.
And I think that this is just another example of rehashing this old issue, which is fine. If people want to spend their time doing that, that’s up to them. But we have changed the process, and it’s much more improved. And that’s good for the President — not just this President, but any future President as well.
Exaggerated Statement About Exaggerated Intelligence
Q Okay. And on the Iraq intelligence report, you’ve said a couple times in the past week or so that the entire world had the same intelligence on Iraq. Given the significant dissent even inside the United States intelligence community on a lot of key issues, how can that be true?
MS. PERINO: Okay, well, maybe “entire world” was probably a little bit too strong, or too broad. But clearly, other governments that looked at the same intelligence that we had came to the same conclusions. I don’t think that’s in dispute.
Cheney in Charge
Q A follow-up from yesterday. Do you have anything on an agreement between Cheney and Olmert on a military aid package that includes F-35 stealth fighter jets in 2012 —
MS. PERINO: Did you say Cheney and Olmert?
Q — and missile defense cooperation?
MS. PERINO: Did you say Cheney and Olmert? No, I don’t have anything on that. No, I don’t.
Q Did he meet with Cheney?
MS. PERINO: He did meeting with the Vice President. I believe they had dinner on Tuesday night. I don’t know if that came up. I’d refer you to his office for more.
Your Daily Dana Don’t Know
Q On the story in The Independent about the deal allegedly between the U.S. and Iraq, The Independent says that details of the deal were leaked to them. I’m sure you’ve seen The Independent’s story —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.
Q You’ve not seen the story in The Independent?
MS. PERINO: I’ve not seen The Independent, I don’t think.
MS. PERINO: I’ve read about ten other papers today, but not The Independent.
Our Intelligence AgenciesDon’t Know Nothin’! Q The Israeli media is reporting that Olmert is going to come with a message that he hopes the President will disavow the NIE on Iran; that essentially Israel believes it’s wrong. Do you believe that to be true? MS. PERINO: I don’t know what Olmert will say. Obviously Prime Minister Olmert will have his speech tonight at AIPAC and so I’ll — you will get a chance to see that. The President has spoken to Prime Minister Olmert and many other leaders across the Middle East and throughout the world about the Iran NIE, … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
TheWhite House Wants To Keep Little Scottie Out Of The Witness Chair
Q Congressman Wexler has called on Scott McClellan to testify before Congress, and Congressman Conyers says that he has directed his committee staff to reach out to Mr. McClellan to make arrangements for him to talk to the committee. Does the White House have any objection to this kind of conversation?
MS. PERINO: I checked on it for you. The White House Counsel’s Office takes these things when we have a formal request. We don’t have a formal request yet. When we get one, that’s when we look at the request, weigh it fully — as we do with all the others — and it’s just not a decision that we would make prior to getting a formal request.
Q Could the White House block him from testifying if he wanted to testify? Or how does that work?
MS. PERINO: Conceivably?
MS. PERINO: Hypothetically — which I’m not supposed to answer hypotheticals — (laughter) — yes, I think so. The law would allow for that, but by saying that I’m not suggesting that that’s what would happen or not happen.
Three Shakespeares, No McClellans
Q Has President Bush read this — read McClellan’s book or does he have any intention to, to sort of find out what this is all about?
MS. PERINO: Well, he’s been regularly briefed. I think he’s read a lot of the articles about it, but I don’t anticipate — he may or may not read the book. I don’t know, we haven’t talked about that.
Q You haven’t bought it for him?
MS. PERINO: No.
PutImpeachment Back On The Table Q Dana, I wanted to ask you, I know you don’t want to go line-by-line with the whole book thing, the Scott McClellan book — but I’m thinking you may want to address this because there’s something out there. Not having the benefit of having the book in front of me, there’s an allegation apparently made by Scott in the book that a reporter shouted a question to the President, on a trip that Scott had been with him on, just as they were getting on Air Force One, and it was Valerie Plame-related. Basically, … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Um, Dana, Was There A Great Deal Of Poo-Flining When You Broke The News About Little Scottie To The Chimp? Q I know that you said you weren’t going to be speaking anything more about McClellan, but could you give us a little sense of who told the President about it, when it occurred and any reaction he had? MS. PERINO: Sure. Well, you will recall that it was last November, right before Thanksgiving when we first heard about the book, when the excerpt came out. I was with the President at the time and told him about it — … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle
Um, Dana? How Come Nobody Wanted To Hear The Presidnet Speak? Q Can you clarify the circumstances with the Convention Center versus a private residence? There were reports that — MS. PERINO: I did over the weekend, though you may not have seen the comments, so I’ll just repeat them here, which is that as you know, our practice has been for fundraisers that the President does, if they’re at a venue like a hotel, that they are open to press. The McCain campaign has a practice that’s different, and that is that all of their fundraisers, regardless of location, … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle
Careful You Don’t Get None Of ThatBush Stank On You, Johnnie Q I wanted to ask about McCain — three fundraisers next week. First of all, why are they closed? And second, do you all expect that sort of pace, I mean, three in a week, that kind of thing, to continue? MS. PERINO: I think we’ll see — I think we’ll see, in terms of a pace. [snip] The reason that they’re closed is that the McCain campaign has a practice of having their fundraisers as closed press; and these are in private residences, which is where we have … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
TheWhite House Wants To Make Sure You Know That The Press Corps Laughed At Congressional Democrats Q Farm bill — where are we with the farm bill? MS. PERINO: You tell me — or the Democrats tell me. Q What did he veto? MS. PERINO: He vetoed — the President vetoed the bill that the Democrats sent us. And, look, I understand there’s a technical error and we’ll have to see what the Congress decides to do, but maybe it gives them one more chance to take a look and think about how much they’re asking the taxpayers to spend … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Meet YourPropagandist-In-Chief Q The policy change allowing Americans to send cell phones to family members in Cuba — are you sure that if people send these phones, that they’ll work, or are you just allowing a change and hoping that they’ll work? MS. PERINO: I’ll refer you to what — earlier today in the briefing room that Dan Fisk said that we do believe that they would work. And I think what’s important here is that the President is saying, all right, Raul, if you say that you’re going to allow people to have cell phones, let’s actually really let … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
On To Iran! Q I want to ask you about the denial of the Jerusalem Post story — MS. PERINO: Yes. Q — when you say that the White House’s preference is to solve this through peaceful, diplomatic means. That still leaves the door open, though, to planning an attack. I’m not saying you are planning an attack, but by your specifically saying that your preference is to have a peaceful, diplomatic means, doesn’t that leave the door open to still — MS. PERINO: I don’t see how that changes — I don’t think that what I said today in … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Snott Stanzel Trips On The Numbers Q What’s the latest on SPR? And you said earlier the President intended to sign off on it — why, if that’s not something he really believes in? MR. STANZEL: We have — I said this morning I thought that we had received the bill late last week, but actually we expect to receive it this afternoon. So there’s been no action by the President yet on that. I would note that as we have said numerous times, we don’t believe that halting the fill of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will have much of … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Dana Says Bad Poll Numbers Are Due To War In Iraq — And What About Those Gas Prices! Q Yes, Dana, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll says that 82 percent of Americans believe the country is heading on the wrong track; that’s up 10 points from a year ago. What do you say to those 82 percent? MS. PERINO: Well, look, we’re aware of polls. They’re something that I know that news media organizations love to do, and in fact it helps — every week you could see a new poll from multiple organizations. So I think that what … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle
Ah, Yes, The Chopping Of The Cedar Q Is he going to be doing his normal activities down at the ranch this weekend, since there’s this big affair — like, is he going to go — probably do the exercise and the chopping of the cedar and all that stuff, or is that pretty much on hold this weekend? MR. JOHNDROE: No, I think this weekend he’ll receive his normal intelligence briefings. I expect he’ll work on the ranch, try and get a bike ride in. He does have a lot of other obligations this weekend, but I think he’ll … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Dana Peroxide Is Back, So HelenTries Again Q Yesterday, according to The New York Times, we dropped a bomb on a home in Sadr City and burned alive a pregnant woman and her children. How long is the siege of Sadr — how long are we going to keep bombing Iraqis? MS. PERINO: Well, I’m not aware of that particular report. I have not — I’ve not seen it. Q Well, it was pretty buried in the story. MS. PERINO: Okay. Well, the operation against the militias in Sadr City will continue until they root them out. And that is … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Snott Stanzel Says It’s not Chimpy’s Fault… Q Oil is hitting $120 a barrel today — a new record. Any response on that? And any further steps that the administration can take? MR. STANZEL: Well, I think it’s another example that it’s important for the United States to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. I understand some strife in Nigeria may be playing an impact on that. We have here in this nation resources that we are not utilizing. ANWR is an example, an issue that’s been debated over the past couple of decades — has been repeatedly … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle
Lurita Sleeps With The Fishes Q Dana, why was Lurita Doan forced to resign now? She’s been a presence around here for a long time. Why was she fired now? MS. PERINO: Well, I’m not going to comment on a — on the resignation. I will confirm, obviously, that she has resigned from GSA. While serving as the administrator she worked very hard to respond effectively during the times of emergency. She also worked to make sure that all of the numerous buildings in the federal government are as energy efficient as possible. And the President is grateful for her … Continue reading Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle