Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Wed Dec 07, 2005 at 11:50:23 AM PDT
After missing out on yesterday's Scotty McClellan Show because he was on Air Force One fighting with reporters about which presidential economic advisor was going to lie to them about the economy, we're back with a new episode!
And that strong smell of ozone could only mean one thing... the Bullshit to English translator got worked HARD today. If you're just now joining us, the premise of the Scotty McClellan Show is as follows:
This is Scotty's press briefing.
It has been abridged for your sanity and mine.
Quotes from the press corps are in italics.
Scotty's bullshit is in bold.
Translations are in plain text.
The President spoke at Annapolis last week; the Vice President at Fort Drum today. Who do you expect will be in the audience [at Bush's second Iraq Victory Rah-Rah speech] tomorrow? And how has the White House -- if at all -- shaped who will be there?
Well, this is the Council on Foreign Relations, and so it will be members of the Council on Foreign Relations. It is an independent, non-partisan organization that is widely respected.
Everybody in the audience will be a partisan Republican plant.
And so they handled all the invitations?
I don't know if we had some, but it's --their organization is hosting this event.
They're letting us put all of our partisan Republican plants in their organization's building.
Yesterday, Secretary Rumsfeld, in his speech, criticized the media. I'll read his quote. "We've arrived at a strange time in this country, where the worst about America and our military seems to go -- seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone direction or accountability after the fact." Does the President, as Commander-in-Chief, share Secretary Rumsfeld's feelings?
Well, the Secretary is a pretty plain-spoken kind of guy, and I think he calls it like he sees them. And I think that's what he was doing yesterday. I think you've heard the President's comments, and he's talked about the real progress we're making. Sometimes there's important developments on the ground that don't necessarily make the headlines, and it's important to talk about the real progress that we're making and look at the gains that are being made on the ground. Because we're going to win in Iraq -- the President talked about that earlier -- he knows we will win; we have a very clear strategy for defeating the terrorists and for helping the Iraqi people build a free and peaceful future; and we will succeed and our troops will succeed, and they have our full support in doing that. And it's important to take into account the good progress that's being made on the ground.
I think I speak for everyone in this administration when I say that although you're all very good lap dogs, there is some definite room for improvement here.
Does the President feel that -- the same way the Secretary does, in that the media has not done a good job in portraying --
I think what I will continue to do is reiterate what the President has been saying. He's been talking about the real progress that's being made on the ground. I indicated my response to your question about Secretary Rumsfeld.
Okay, it's like this. There's, like, what -- 155,000 US troops over in Iraq right now? And so a bomb blows up 10 Marines. The headlines the next day all scream "10 Marines Killed in Deadly Iraq Attack!" I mean, what the fuck. Come on. Just once, couldn't you guys print a headline that says, "154,990 US Troops Not Killed in Iraq Yesterday!"? I mean, would that kill you? You're so pessimistic, but we understand that progress is being made with our very clear strategy to win the war.
Back in March, the President said, when asked about rendition, "We seek assurances that nobody will be tortured when we render a person back to their home country." Today he said, "We do not render to countries that torture." That sounds like a change.
No, I think he was referring to what we have previously said, which was, we have an obligation not to render people to countries if we believe they're going to be tortured. And in some instances we seek further assurances to make sure that people won't be tortured.
The United States of America is strongly committed to upholding our values and our laws and our treaty obligations, and that's what the President was talking about.
No, there's been no change... the President was lying both times.
So there's no change even though he's said, we don't render to countries that torture? In other words, if you don't get assurances, they won't -- you won't send us --
Yes, he's referring to what we previously have said, that we have an obligation not to do so.
Which is kind of like, if you watch a guy kill someone, and then you say, "Dude, did you just kill him?" And the guy looks at you and says, "It's unlawful to kill someone and I have an obligation not to do so." Sure, it's true... but... that doesn't mean he didn't do it.
On the same subject, Scott. When you do -- when renditions do take place, are there procedures in place to make sure that the United States, on a regular basis, monitors the conditions of the prisoners and the way they are interrogated on a daily basis, or so forth? And, if not, are such conditions now being put in place at White House instigation or the instigation of others?
Well, a couple of things. One, Secretary Rice spoke at length in response to some questions that had been raised by the European Union, in response to a letter response to a letter from Secretary Snow. And we make sure that we have assurances that people won't be tortured if -- or before we render them to a country. That's something that we place high priority on.
Now, this is about protecting our citizens. And all countries have an obligation to work together to do everything we can within the law to ensure the safety and security of our people. This is a global war on terrorism, and we work cooperatively with many nations. And we respect the sovereignty of each nation. And we have and we will continue to do so. It is their choice as to how they want to -- it is their choice in terms of how they want to participate. But in terms of renditions and talking in any specific way about it, I'm just not going to do it. I'm not going to get into talking about these issues because it could compromise things in an ongoing war on terrorism. And we're not going to do that.
Ha ha, excuse me while I blow milk through my nose. Let's recap. We have secret CIA torture prisons in Europe, which we have now moved to Africa because everybody got their panties in a twist about it. In those prisons, Dick Cheney personally attaches alligator clips to the testicles of any brown person he can find, and then runs fifty car batteries worth of electricity through their scrotum. And sometimes, we wink and nod and turn over some brown people to allies and pretend that we don't think they'll be tortured there. And you're asking me if we keep track to make sure that they don't torture them? Ha ha, you kidder.
Scott, one follow-up on that: Why not take them back to U.S. soil if you are concerned that they not be tortured, where you are under clear guidelines both of U.S. law and, of course, the whole torture issues that you raised. Why move them around to foreign countries --
A couple of things. Renditions have been in place for a long time. Secretary Rice talked yesterday about the Jackal and others that have been rendered previously and brought to justice, and the importance of rendition as a tool that will -- can help us prevail in the war on terrorism. And she made very clear that we are going to do everything lawful within our means to protect our citizens. And we have to recognize we are in a different kind of war against a different kind of enemy. This is an enemy that has no regard for innocent human life. They don't wear uniforms. They don't report to a particular state or nation. They espouse an ideology that they seek to spread throughout the world. It's a hateful and oppressive ideology.
Have I been talking long enough that you have now forgotten your original question, or shall I go on?
Why not -- why not render them back to the United States where there is --
Response to that -- the way I would say -- respond to that is that we make decisions on a case-by-case basis, working with other countries, in terms of where individuals are rendered.
And on a case-by-case basis, working with other countries, we torture people.
What is the purpose of rendition, other than, if it is not, in fact, to subject detainees to a degree of interrogation somewhat more difficult than that which they would be subjected to in the United States? And that being the case, what definition of torture does the United States understand and accept?
The ones that are defined in our law and our international treaty obligations. We have laws --
We here in the Republican Party take laws very seriously.
If that's the case, then why bother to render anybody?
We have laws that prohibit torture. We have treaty obligations that we adhere to. And the Convention Against Torture is a treaty obligation that we take seriously and we adhere to. And in that treaty, it -- those treaties and laws, it defines torture. And --
La la la, I can't hear you.
Then what's the purpose of rendition?
-- so we adhere to our laws and our treaty obligations, and our values. That's very important as we move forward in conducting the war on terrorism.
But what this is about is how we conduct the war on terrorism, how we protect our people, our citizens. And each country's highest responsibility is the safety and security of their citizens. And we all must work together to prevail in this different kind of war. And intelligence helps save lives. And we have an obligation when people are picked up on the battlefield -- unlawful enemy combatants -- to do our part to question them and learn information that can help us prevent attacks from happening in the first place. And we work very closely with countries throughout the world to make sure that we are doing all we can to protect our citizens -- but we do so in a lawful way.
La la la, still can't hear you.
But if we are committed to international conventions against torture, what, then, is the purpose of rendition?
Again, I'm not going to get into talking about specific intelligence matters that help prevent attacks from happening and help save lives. As Secretary Rice indicated yesterday, the steps we have taken have helped save lives in America and in European countries. We will continue to work with --
Well, here's what we do. We go into Iraq. We find a brown guy. It's pretty much a sure bet that he's the Number Three Al Qaeda Leader. We capture him. He's an enemy combatant. We sodomize him with a florescent light bulb. It's not really an interrogation tactic, we just enjoy it. We ship him off to a place where his human rights are certain to be upheld... like, say, Saudi Arabia. We cut off his big toe. We hammer quarter-inch strips of plywood under his fingernails until he admits that he has a giant death ray in orbit around the Earth, aimed right at the United States. The only way it can be shut off is with a secret telepathic command that only he can give. We hold his head underwater for two minutes and fifteen seconds. He then issues the telepathic command, saving the US from certain destruction. We then torture him some more. So as you can see, both rendition and torture works, and has saved lives.
But you seem to be suggesting that there's more to be gained by interrogating these people outside the United States than there is inside.
It depends. It's a case-by-case basis, Bill, and in some cases they're rendered to their home country of origin. You cited two examples of past renditions yesterday, one individual that was involved in the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993; another individual that is one of the most notorious terrorists of all time.
Bill, why do you hate America so much?
But how do we know they weren't tortured? They claim they were.
Well, we know that our enemy likes to make claims like that.
Geez, you stick a bendy-straw up someone's urethra and next thing you know they're telling everybody that you tortured them.
I want to go back to David's question about whether or not the administration is looking into any new ways of monitoring rendition activities in other countries that --
I answered his question and I'm not going to --
You didn't answer that question, Scott.
I'm not going to talk any further about it.
Press Secretary Handbook:
- Step One: Pretend to listen when someone asks a question.
- Step Two: Talk about something unrelated.
- Step Three: Say, "I already answered that" if anyone asks you again.
You didn't say anything about whether or not -- you said we receive assurances from other countries. You never did say anything about whether or not we, then, go further and make sure that nothing is occurring. Is the White House --
Secretary Rice talked about it yesterday. And I talked about it today. And we're not going to comment further than that when it comes to intelligence matters that are helping us to prevent attacks from happening and helping us to learn important intelligence that saves lives.
You can all just go to hell, that's what I think. Fucking un-American terrorist sympathizers.
So there's no monitoring -- so there's no mechanisms, no monitoring after --
You're asking me to talk about intelligence matters that I'm just not --
We're not asking you to talk -- we're asking you whether there's a procedure in place --
To make sure --
You've had your question, I've responded to it and that's what I'm going to say.
If you want answers from me, you'll have to waterboard me!
I had my question; you haven't responded to it.
Well, I've told you why. I have responded to it and I've told you the reason why. And I think the American people understand the importance of protecting sources and methods and not compromising ongoing efforts in the war on terrorism, and that's why I'm just not going to talk about it further.
Or... maybe... you could put electrodes on my testicles? Hmm? Wouldn't that be fun? Are a couple of electrodes on my testicles too much to ask from you people?
I'm not asking you about an individual case. We're asking whether there is a procedure in the U.S. government to make sure that the system you tell us will not result in torture, in fact, doesn't.
A couple of things. One, again, I'm not going to talk further about intelligence matters of this nature. So let me make that clear, again.
Or you know what would be good? Stripping me naked, pouring pig's blood on me, and sending in a pack of four, maybe five unmuzzled German Shepherds for 45 minutes or so. Then maybe I'll answer your question.
We're not asking on an intelligence matter.
No, this is relating to intelligence matters; it absolutely is, David. And because of the nature of the enemy we face and the different kind of war that we're engaged in, these are matters I think the American people can understand that we're not going to talk further about because of the sensitivity and because of the fact that they could compromise our ongoing efforts.
We need to prevail in this war on terrorism. We've got to do everything we can within the law to protect our citizens, and we need to work with other countries to help save lives, and that's what we're doing.
Sodomize me with a broken broom handle? That might get an answer out of me.
The question you're currently evading is not about an intelligence matter.
You've had my response, Bill.
Final chance, Bill. Shoot me in the arm, then shove a flashlight into the bullet wound. Come on... whatta ya say?
If the countries to which we are rendering detainees are not torturing, are we to conclude that they have some technique that is, in fact, more successful in gaining intelligence than the United States?
No, I didn't say anything -- I didn't say anything to suggest that.
We just think that sending alleged terrorists to former Soviet Bloc countries is a nice change of scenery for them.
Scott, Congressman William Delahunt of Massachusetts has entered into a deal with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela to provide low-cost heating fuel, and apparently the State Department is furious about this, and there may be another deal in the works with the Bronx in New York. Why is -- why are not American oil companies like ExxonMobile stepping in to say, Mr. Chavez, we've just had a huge windfall profit in the last quarter; turn your tankers around, we'll take care of our own in this country. And since there was just a hearing up on Capitol Hill to discuss the windfall profits, why isn't there pressure --
Well, I think -- I think the State Department has spoken out about this specific issue when it comes to Venezuela, and they've talked about that. I really don't have anything further to add to what they've already said.
In terms of oil companies here in America, we've made very clear what our views are, and that all of us have a role to do to help address high energy prices. And we are taking action to do so. This is an important need that we need to address for the American people. High energy costs harm our economy. Our economy is strong and continuing to grow stronger. And the President yesterday spoke at length in his remarks about now that we have this foundation for growth in place, we need to continue to act on pro-growth policies to help better the lives of our workers and our families. And that's what we're doing. We passed a comprehensive energy strategy. Now we need to move forward to expand refining capacity and take additional steps. And that's what we will continue to do.
Jesus, you're kidding, right? This administration has spent five years brokering sweetheart deals with oil companies, letting oil companies basically write this country's energy policy, shielding oil companies from public and legal scrutiny, writing massive tax cuts to benefit the oil companies, and starting wars in the Middle East to benefit oil companies. And why? So that oil companies can have just astronomical profits. And you know what? Mission a-fuckin'-complished. So if you think for one tiny little nanosecond that this administration would suggest that those oil companies should forego even one copper penny of those profits to actually help hard working Americans, then you're a few fries short of a Happy Meal, my friend.
[D]o you think there should be greater Medicaid rebates by drug manufacturers so that you don't have to cut so much on low-income --
We believe that we need to move forward on Medicare reform and modernize Medicare and to close loopholes. And we can find savings and slow the growth in Medicare by addressing those important needs. And I think that's what the American people want us to do -- to make sure that people who need the help are getting the help, and to take steps to restrain spending.
Those sick, old, and poor people can all get bent as far as we're concerned. "Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation?" We think Scrooge brings up a very good point there, and I'll leave it at that.
Scott, you very graciously answered seven questions from two reporters, and I have a mere three-part question. First, at the National Christmas Tree lighting last week the President said, "Each year we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy, and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming." And the question: Will the President apologize to Christians offended by his referring to Jesus as Santa?
The President meant exactly what he said, Les.
Santa is the reason for the season, Les. Now everybody -- off to the mall and BUY, BUY, BUY!
Second, does the President know of any way that the passport of Ramsey Clark could be revoked on grounds of his consistent actions against the United States?
Look, there are procedures in place for all American citizens when it comes to those issues, and we expect those procedures to be followed for all Americans.
Sadly, we have not yet rid ourselves of the pesky burden of the right of an accused to have defense counsel, so our hands are kind of tied at the moment.
When defendants in criminal cases in the United States have shouted or otherwise disrupted the court, haven't there been cases where they have been bound and gagged in court? And would the President recommend this for Saddam Hussein?
It's up to the Iraqi people to hold Saddam Hussein to account. There is an Iraqi court, led by Iraqis. It is a special tribunal that was set up to hold Saddam Hussein and his regime leaders to account for the atrocities they committed. This was a brutal regime that was engaged in systematic torture. They had rape rooms and torture chambers. And we are hearing eyewitness accounts of the kind of brutality that this regime was engaged in. When you have an eyewitness talking about human blood being in a meat grinder, and talking about electric shocks, you see the true nature of this regime. And the court that is in place today shows the change that is coming to Iraq. This is an important step in building a democratic future for Iraq, based on the rule of law. The Iraqi people are the ones that will hold Saddam Hussein to account for the atrocities he committed against the Iraqi people, and the crimes he committed against humanity.
Frankly, we are a little concerned about the precedent that would set for when those of us in this administration face a tribunal of our own.
In the Vice President's speech this morning, he said -- and this was in the context of the war in Iraq -- he said, "We weren't in Iraq on September the 11th, and the terrorists hit us anyway." Why does the Vice President continue to give the impression that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was connected with the September the 11th attacks, when the President has conceded that they were not, and the 9/11 Commission conceded they were not?
I don't think that does. I don't think that does. But I think what you have to understand about September 11th is that September 11th taught us some important lessons: one, that we need to take the fight to the enemy and engage them abroad to prevent attacks from happening here at home -- that's the best way we can protect the American people. And two, to address the root causes that lead to people flying planes into buildings or strapping on bombs and blowing themselves up and killing innocent men, women, and children. And that means spreading freedom in the broader Middle East and changing the status quo.
The Middle East had become a dangerous breeding ground for terrorism, and what we're working to do is bring some hope and opportunity to the region. Iraq will inspire the rest of the Middle East by its example of building a free and democratic future for its people, and help encourage those who, around the Middle East and beyond, want to live in freedom. So I think that you have a misunderstanding of what he said.
What you need to realize is that Vice President Cheney is both full of shit and completely, totally, batshit insane. So every couple of months or so, he emerges from his hidey-hole, grabs the closest television camera he can find, and snarls, "9/11! Iraq! Terrorists! Saddam Hussein! 9/11!" And then he goes back into his secret underground lair, from which he continues to rule the world.
"We weren't in Iraq on September 11th and the terrorists hit us anyway." Would you not agree that there's some linkage there?
No, I think he's making the point that the President made last week, that those who suggest that if we weren't in Iraq, that the terrorists would just be idle. That's an absurd allegation, because the terrorists are determined to spread their fear and chaos and violence throughout the civilized world. They attacked us well before we were in Iraq; they attacked other countries well before any decisions were made to go into Iraq.
And when we say things like this, we like to conveniently leave out that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide skyrocketed after the war in Iraq began (that does not count attacks on troops in Iraq), that Iraq is a terrorist breeding and training ground, or that the war in Iraq is a useful tool for terrorists to recruit new terrorists.
They continue to try to carry out the attacks. That's why it's so important that we're engaging the enemy in Iraq, that we're taking the fight to them there. And all you have to do is look back at the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi to see the nature of the enemy that we face and what they recognize is involved in Iraq, because they have said themselves that when we succeed in Iraq, it will be a major blow to their ambitions. And that's why we are going to continue to move forward toward victory, because it is critical to prevailing in the broader war on terrorism.
Man, I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is totally AWESOME when terrorists write letters to each other repeating Republican talking points, isn't it? I mean, "Dear Zarqawi: Iraq is the central fight in the war on terror. When America succeeds in Iraq, it will be a major blow to our ambitions. Darn it, that President George W. Bush is entirely too glorious! Your friend, Zawahiri. PS: L.Y.L.A.S. (love you like a sister)"
Does the Vice President now agree that Saddam Hussein's arrest was not involved in September 11th?
Those questions have been gone over ad nauseam in the past. Thanks.
We will not confirm or deny whether or not the Vice President is currently living in reality.
Scott, how long will it take for Iraq to achieve the level of economic stability where the U.S. will not have to be in there propping it up?
Well, first of all, what we are there doing is helping the Iraqi people reform their economic institutions and move forward on reconstruction. The President spelled out in the plan for victory that we released last week for the American people the progress that we're making on the different fronts, including the economic front, and the challenges that lie ahead.
Well, as long as we're stealing their oil... probably never.
And the President, again, will talk about what our definition of victory in Iraq is tomorrow
Wait, was that plan called "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq"? Or was it called "National Strategy for Our Definition of Victory in Iraq"?
and that is putting in place an Iraq that is not a safe haven for terrorists to plan and plot their attacks. That's very important for people to understand, because the terrorists want to try to create a safe haven in Iraq from which they can plan and plot attacks and spread their fear and chaos throughout the broader Middle East and attack -- or take over other parts of the Middle East. That was spelled out in the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi.
Once again, if you want to know this administration's policy as it relates to Iraq, one need look no further than the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi.
Mr. McClellan, you mentioned a couple of times today our efforts to -- continuing efforts to spread democracy -- just to be clear about something, we didn't go to Iraq to spread democracy, did we? I mean, we didn't go to Iraq to help the Iraqi people. It was initially a security issue -- just to be clear on that.
Well, we spelled out the reasons we went to Iraq, and I would encourage you to go back and look at that. We have liberated 25 million people in Iraq, and 25 million people in Afghanistan. And spreading --
The reason we went to Iraq... wasn't it... like, a mushroom cloud over Chicago or something?
But it wasn't the reason we went --
-- spreading freedom and democracy -- well, we're not going to re-litigate the reasons why we went into Iraq. We've made very clear what the reasons were. And, no, I don't think you define them accurately by being so selective in the question.
In terms of the lessons of September 11th, again, let me reiterate what those were -- that we need to address the underlying causes that lead people to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings, or that lead people to strap on bombs and blow themselves up. And that's what we're doing by spreading freedom in the broader Middle East. And there are different ways we can support those efforts.
The Middle East peace process -- the President has been providing a lot of strong support for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people as they move forward on the Middle East peace process. That's important for spreading hope and opportunity in the broader Middle East. We are continuing to support the people of Afghanistan as they move forward. And we'll continue to support and help the Iraqi people as they move forward, too.
If you'll please give me a moment, I'm right in the middle of what Vice President Cheney would refer to as irresponsibly revising history.
But just to be clear, that's a different argument than was made to the American people before the war --
Our arguments are very public. You can go and look at what the arguments were. That's not what I was talking about.
Hey, no fair bringing up extremely damaging things -- such as our own words and lies -- against us. That's beyond the pale.
The President and Vice President have both been speaking very warmly about Senator Lieberman lately. And the Senator has suggested that the President should appoint a bipartisan working group on Iraq to meet perhaps weekly, including members of Congress, National Security officials, to talk about progress there, and to be able to report back to the American people. Is that an idea the President would welcome?
Senator Lieberman has talked about the visible and practical progress that is being made on the ground, and he's talked about the importance of winning in Iraq. And I think while there may be disarray and disagreement within the Democratic Party, Senator Lieberman is someone who is firmly committed to supporting our troops and succeeding in Iraq. He recognizes the importance of victory there and the importance of succeeding.
When it comes to Iraq, there are Republican senators who are not as Republican as Joementum. And the President and Vice President enjoy the feeling of his head up their asses.
So is his suggestion something the administration would embrace?
I haven't had a chance to look at what he said today, Kelly, so I'll have to take a look at that. But we work very closely with him in the war on terrorism, and we appreciate his leadership, and we appreciate his ideas. And I'll take a look at that and see if there's anything else to add.
I think it's very likely that we'll have some sort of bi-partisan working group that will feature the most rabid right-wingers we can find and then, maybe we'll add Joementum to balance the whole thing out.And with that, I'm leaving, but don't miss my next exciting episode, where I will probably say, "I have already addressed that" and reference the letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi again! Bye bye for now!