On domestic security, Iraq and the White House — from “Jeff Gannon”

From the transcripts, there is little doubt that “Jeff Gannon” tried to deflect any criticism of the White House re Iraq or domestic security, by any means:

 

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[November 5, 2003]
Q I know that you said you hadn’t seen the Rockefeller memo that Jim referred to, but I have, and it clearly outlines a Democrat plan to exploit the information gathered by the committee to undermine the president’s reelection chances. Under those circumstances, would the White House consider halting the transfer of documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee until a Senate ethics panel investigates the matter?

MR. MCCLELLAN: We have been and will continue to work cooperatively with the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is our position. We want to assist them and help — we want to be helpful in their efforts to review the intelligence relating to Iraq. That’s exactly what we plan to continue doing. Again, I just have not seen that specific memo. I’ve seen the news reports. But, you know, we would hope that people are not trying to politicize an issue of such importance.

Q Doesn’t the implication of the memo cast a whole new light on the Niger controversy and all of the things that have ensued after the remarks of Joe Wilson?

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[March 22, 2004]
Q Does the president have any regrets about his “new tone” policy now that one more Clinton holdover has betrayed his administration?  [this is about Dick Clarke]

MR. MCCLELLAN: I’m sorry, does the president have —

Q Well, does he have any regrets about the new tone that he wanted to set in Washington, now that these people from the previous administration, from another political party, have taken the actions they have done?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, let me just — I mean, without getting into specific areas there; just broadly, the president has always been someone who’s worked to elevate the discourse, and worked to focus on where we can advance on common ground issues of great importance. There are many common challenges that we have, and the president believes it’s important to reach out and work together to address those priorities. Certainly it’s difficult to change the tone in this town. But the president —

Q Don’t you see it as a little one-sided here?

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[March 24, 2004]
Q On the issue of the credibility, a staff report of the 9/11 commission was released yesterday, and in it it said that they had not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim that they offered Osama bin Laden to the United States in 1996.

This is despite a speech by President Clinton to the Long Island Association in 2002 where he said, and I’ll quote, “I did not bring him here because we had no basis” to hold him. And he also went on to say, and he “pleaded with the Saudis to take him,” unquote. Do you think something like this undermines the credibility of the conclusions that the commission is going to reach in matters like this?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, one, I haven’t had a chance to look at the commission report. We certainly are working very closely and cooperatively with the commission so that they can get to the bottom of this matter, and —

Q It was in their opening statement, before any witnesses testified yesterday. That’s why I bring it up.

MR. MCCLELLAN: And they made the claim that —

Q Yes, that there was no evidence to support the Sudanese claim that they offered Osama bin Laden to the United States in 1996.

 

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[April 16, 2004]
Q The White House declassified the August 6, 2001, PDB for the 9/11 commission investigation. Will there be others? And have there been other PDBs that have been declassified?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think the September 11th commission has talked about some that maybe they would like to see declassified. You might want to direct some questions to them. Those are always issues that certainly we talk with the commission about in direct discussions. And we always talk with them in a spirit of trying to make sure they have all the information they need to do their job.

Q But it’s you that make the decision to declassify it?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, if there are requests that are made of us, we’ll work with the commission and discuss those issues with the commission. I’m not going to get into discussing specific issues that may be going on at this point. But we always work with them to accommodate their needs.

Q One more question on that.

MR. MCCLELLAN: We try to be fully responsive. Well, we have worked to be fully responsive to all their requests, I might point out.

Q Are PDBs from the previous administration, are those under consideration to be declassified?

 

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[April 28, 2004]
Q Is there any agreement between the White House and the 9/11 commission regarding the president’s and the vice president’s remarks tomorrow; that is, not revealing them to the public and only including them in the report; or should we expect to see commissioners on television tomorrow afternoon characterizing those remarks?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don’t know what the commission’s plans are following the meeting. I know that when they met with President Clinton and Vice President Gore, that they put out a statement afterwards and pretty much let that speak for the meeting. But I don’t know what their plans are for tomorrow.

Q Is Commissioner Gorelick going to participate in this tomorrow or is she going to recuse herself?

MR. MCCLELLAN: We’ve been told that all 10 commission members will be present tomorrow.

 

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[April 29, 2004]
Q Some Republicans on Capitol Hill believe that the work of the 9/11 commission won’t be complete until and unless Jamie Gorelick testifies before the commission on her role in building the wall between intelligence and law enforcement. Is that an opinion shared by the White House?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Look, the president — you know, I think even at the beginning of the meeting he made some brief remarks — he didn’t have a prepared opening statement or anything like that, but certainly made some opening remarks for being — and essentially, I think, he thanked them for the work that they’re doing, talked about how he appreciated what they were doing and that their work is very important to what we are doing to protect the American people. And I think that the president looks at this and doesn’t believe that there ought to be finger-pointing. We ought to all be working together to learn the lessons of September 11th and make sure that we are doing everything that we can to protect the homeland and win the war on terrorism. That’s the way he looks at it.

Q Well, the Justice Department keeps releasing documents. They’ve released another — they declassified 30 pages yesterday that reinforce the idea that —

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think the president — yeah —

Q — Ms. Gorelick has more that she could offer to —

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, I understand that’s what the Justice Department did.

We were not involved in it. I think the president was disappointed about that.

Q The president was disappointed in the Justice Department for releasing that document?

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[April 30, 2004]
Q Yesterday the White House criticized the Justice Department for releasing the Gorelick memos. You said the president doesn’t believe that there should be finger-pointing. This indicates that you know there is something in those memos that is potentially damaging to Commissioner Gorelick. Why shouldn’t this information be made public?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Jeff, I think that there’s work going on by the 9/11 commission to look at all issues related to the threat from terrorism prior to September 11th. And I said yesterday that it’s important for the commission to look at everything that can help them complete their work.

And, you know, I think what I was referring to on the Justice Department, I addressed yesterday, and I think I will leave it there. I think the president made his views known.

Q Okay, fine. It was Senator Cornyn and also Senator Graham that requested that information be released, in a letter to them a week ago. So it wasn’t the Justice Department that was just acting on its own to do that; it was from a specific request from the Senate. And Senator Cornyn believes that Commissioner Gorelick should testify in front of the 9/11 commission. Why shouldn’t Commissioner Gorelick have her chance to publicly apologize to the 9/11 families?

 

 

MR. MCCLELLAN: Go ahead, Jeff. You had one.
[June 15, 2004]
Q Thanks. Why hasn’t the administration made more of the U.N. inspector’s report that says Saddam Hussein was dismantling his missile and WMD sites before and during the war? And doesn’t that, combined with the now-proven al Qaeda link between Iraq — between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist organization unequivocally make the case for going to war in Iraq?

 

 

Go ahead, Jeff.
[July 15, 2004]
Q Thank you.

Q A Calhoun. (Laughter.)

Q Forgive me if my colleagues — forgive me if my colleagues have already touched on this subject, but last Friday the Senate Intelligence —

MR. MCCLELLAN: Three if we don’t shout all over each other and we have a civil discourse.

Q I have a question.

MR. MCCLELLAN: I’m coming to you, Helen.

Q Last Friday the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that shows that Ambassador Joe Wilson lied when he said his wife didn’t put him up for the mission to Niger. The British inquiry into their own prewar intelligence yesterday concluded that the president’s 16 words were, quote, “well founded,” unquote. Doesn’t Joe Wilson owe the president and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, one, let me point out that I think those reports speak for themselves on that issue. And I think if you have questions about that, you can direct that to Mr. Wilson.

Q Well, we spent so many weeks here dissecting the 16 words that are now absolutely true. Don’t you think —

Q How do you know that?

Q Excuse me, Helen. Don’t you think that America deserves the opportunity to have this information brought forward as well?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I noticed some media reports on this very issue over the weekend —

Q There are very few of them.

 

[One notes that he even got to elbow the esteemed Helen Thomas aside.]

 

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