Wednesday, July 13, 2005

July 13 White House Press Non-Briefing

Man, would I love to have Scott McClellan's job as it is prescribed by the Bush White House. The U.S. President's Press Secretary has traditionally had the job of answering media questions and disseminating truth to the press for distribution to the American people.

With the White House under fire for Karl Rove's treasonous act in disclosing the identity of a covert CIA officer – as retribution for a column her husband wrote that was critical of pre-war intelligence on Iraq – here's McClellan for the third day in a row holding a briefing in which he fails to respond honestly to any of the questions asked:

Q: Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, I'm not at all. I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round and round on this for two days now.

Q: Even if it wasn't a crime? You know, there are those who believe that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday -- perhaps speaking on behalf of the White House -- that when you're dealing with a covert operative, that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with that or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been round and round on this for a couple of days now. I don't have anything to add to what I've said the previous two days.

Q: That's a different question, and it's not round and round --

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.

Q: It has nothing to do with the investigation, Scott, and you know it.

MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier today, and the President said he's not --

Q: That's a dodge to my question. It has nothing to do with the investigation. Is it appropriate for a senior official to speak about a covert agent in any way, shape, or form without first finding out whether that person is working as a covert officer.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, you're wrong. This is all relating to questions about an ongoing investigation, and I've been through this.

Q: If I wanted to ask you about an ongoing investigation, I would ask you about the statute, and I'm not doing that.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.

Q: You haven't even scratched the surface.

Q: It hasn't started.

MR. McCLELLAN: I look forward to talking about it once the investigation is complete, as the President does, as well. And you heard from the President earlier today.

Q: Can I ask for clarification on what the President said at Sea Island on June 10th of last year, when he was saying that he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved in the leak of classified information? What were the parameters for those consequences? Was it --

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question.

Q: Was it a knowing leak with the intent of doing damage? I'm just wondering when he talked about that, what those parameters were?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've nothing to add on this discussion, and if we have any other topics you want to discuss, I'll be glad to do that.

Go ahead, David.

Q: Scott, when the President asked that question at Sea -- was asked that question at Sea Island, and, in fact, when you made your statement that Karl had had nothing to do with this, was there an ongoing investigation at that time?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been through this for two days now, and I've already responded to those questions.

Q: I'm going to go to another question, somewhat on the same subject, but a different vein. Let's talk about the Wilson family. Is there any regret from this White House about the effects of this leak on this family?

MR. McCLELLAN: We can continue to go round and round on all these --

Q: No, no, no, no. This has nothing to do with the investigation. This is about the leak and the effects on this family. I mean, granted there are partisan politics being played, but let's talk about the leak that came from the White House that affected a family.

MR. McCLELLAN: And let me just say again that anything relating to an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to get into discussing. I've said that the past couple of days.

Q: This is not -- this is about -- this is a personal -- this is not about the -- I mean about the investigation. This is about the personal business of this family, an American family, a taxpaying family, a family that works for the government of the United States. And the executive branch -- someone in the executive branch let this family down in some kind of way, shape, or form. Is there any regret from the White House that this family was affected by the leak?

MR. McCLELLAN: It doesn't change what I just said.