Tuesday's White House Fib-apalooza
Here's one reporter trying to get a straight answer on the subject from White House Press Secretary Scott "Shifty" McClellan yesterday. (It's just got to be Helen Thomas because whoever it is has the nerve to hammer McClellan at the end about how free the Iraqi people really are right now.)
Q: Scott, in the Iraq's reconstruction costs, how much of that should be paid for by Iraq with its oil revenues?
McClellan: Well, Iraq's oil revenues are for the Iraqi people. It is overseen by an Iraqi ministry, and all those revenues go to help the Iraqi people. And as we move forward on the reconstruction process, what we're doing is providing support and help to Iraqi leaders and residents as they move ahead on reconstruction and economic reforms. And that's what we will continue to do.
But as we get that oil -- those oil revenues coming in more and more, and protect that oil infrastructure, that goes to help them build a brighter future. Iraq is a country with vast resources and great economic potential, and that's why it's important that we continue to address the challenges posed to its oil sector. There are those who target the oil sector, and that's why we're training Iraqi battalions to help patrol and protect the pipelines and the oil refineries and so forth.
Q: But the reconstruction is for the Iraqi people, too, so how much of that reconstruction cost --
McClellan: And it's not just -- and I'll point out, it's not just Americans helping, it's the international community that is stepping forward and helping. And the President touched on that in his remarks, as well.
Q: So are oil revenues excluded from reconstruction?
McClellan: No. I mean, it's for the Iraqi people.
Q: Right. So how much of the reconstruction costs --
McClellan: Well, you might want to go and look at our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. You can go to the White House website, whitehouse.gov, and look it up. And it talks about the oil sector and the progress that's being made there. And it talks about electricity, as well, within there, and it lays out some of the challenges that lie ahead. In terms of specific amounts, I mean I think the oil production recently has been relatively steady, but there are challenges we still need to address with that.
Q: How much do the American oil companies expect to get out of this oil? I understand they're negotiating for about 66 percent, a lion's share of being able to take it over.
McClellan: I don't speak for those companies, you'd have to ask them.
Q: You don't speak for them, but would they be -- are they negotiating now?
McClellan: Well, I think it's up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to determine what relationships and partnerships they build.
Q: But they're not free to determine it, we're in control of Iraq, right?
McClellan: No, they are in control of their oil resources.
Q: And I have one more question. How do you define "complete" -- how does the President define "complete victory in Iraq"?
McClellan: Well, he actually defines "victory" in his remarks. He talked about that today. Victory is when the terrorists and Saddam loyalists no longer threaten Iraq's democracy. Victory is when the Iraqi security forces can protect their citizens. And victory is achieved when Iraq is not a safe haven from which terrorists can plot attacks against America and others in the civilized world.
Slight change of subject, but watch Weasel Boy backpeddle:
Q: -- people defending their own country, aren't they? Are they all terrorists?Earth to McClellan: It was 15 Saudi nationals and a handful of other, non-Iraqis, backed by Al-Qaeda, who attacked us on September 11.
McClellan: No. The President actually talked about the enemy. They fit into three different categories. And he talked abut the Saddam loyalists who want to return to the past, the dark past. We're seeing the brutalities of the past come out now in a trial that's being held to hold Saddam Hussein and his leaders accountable for the atrocities they committed --
Q: We didn't go in there to save them --
McClellan: -- and we're also seeing that the Iraqi people are determined to build a democratic future. And so the terrorists -- the terrorists are the smallest, but most lethal group, and the President talked about that in his remarks. And then there's some rejectionists or fence-sitter types that are -- that, more and more, are being won over to the political process. They are largely Sunni Arabs who, before, realized a lot of power because they were the privileged -- they had privileges of the few. But a democracy gives everybody a voice. And that's what -- I think people around the world want. They want to live in freedom.
Q: -- being killed in their own country, aren't they, a lot of them?
McClellan: The Iraqi people have made tremendous sacrifices. Our troops have made enormous sacrifices to lay the foundations of peace for generations to come and help transform the broader Middle East, which has been a dangerous region of the world that has been a breeding ground for terrorism. That's why it's so important --
Q: It wasn't a breeding ground before we went in.
McClellan: Helen, if we weren't fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be planning and plotting to attack America.
Q: How do you know that?
McClellan: Because they attacked us on September 11th, they attacked us -- they attacked people in London, they attacked people in Madrid, they have attacked people across the civilized world.
As Foghorn Leghorn might say "That boy is more slippery than a buttered doorknob."