Q I'd like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President says we don't do torture, but Cheney --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's about as straight as it can be.
Q Yes, but Cheney has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption on --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he's asked for an exemption on torture? No, that's --
Q He did not ask for that?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is inaccurate.
Q Are you denying everything that came from the Hill, in terms of torture?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're mischaracterizing things. And I'm not going to get into discussions we have --
Q Can you give me a straight answer for once?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give it to you, just like the President has. We do not torture. He does not condone torture and he would never --
Q I'm asking about exemptions.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me respond. And he would never authorize the use of torture. We have an obligation to do all that we can to protect the American people. We are engaged --
Q That's not the answer I'm asking for --
MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer -- because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. There are people in this world who want to spread a hateful ideology that is based on killing innocent men, women and children. We saw what they can do on September 11th --
Q He didn't ask for an exemption --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and we are going to --
Q -- answer that one question. I'm asking, is the administration asking for an exemption?
MR. McCLELLAN: I am answering your question. The President has made it very clear that we are going to do --
Q You're not answering -- yes or no?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen, and I'm going to tell them the facts.
Q -- the American people every day. I'm asking you, yes or no, did we ask for an exemption?
MR. McCLELLAN: And let me respond. You've had your opportunity to ask the question. Now I'm going to respond to it.
Q If you could answer in a straight way.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm going to answer it, just like the President -- I just did, and the President has answered it numerous times.
Q -- yes or no --
MR. McCLELLAN: Our most important responsibility is to protect the American people. We are engaged in a global war against Islamic radicals who are intent on spreading a hateful ideology, and intent on killing innocent men, women and children.
Q Did we ask for an exemption?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are going to do what is necessary to protect the American people.
Q Is that the answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are also going to do so in a way that adheres to our laws and to our values. We have made that very clear. The President directed everybody within this government that we do not engage in torture. We will not torture. He made that very clear.
Q Are you denying we asked for an exemption?
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we will continue to work with the Congress on the issue that you brought up. The way you characterize it, that we're asking for exemption from torture, is just flat-out false, because there are laws that are on the books that prohibit the use of torture. And we adhere to those laws.
Q We did ask for an exemption; is that right? I mean, be simple -- this is a very simple question.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just answered your question. The President answered it last week.
Q What are we asking for?
Q Would you characterize what we're asking for?
MR. McCLELLAN: We're asking to do what is necessary to protect the American people in a way that is consistent with our laws and our treaty obligations. And that's what we --
Q Why does the CIA need an exemption from the military?
MR. McCLELLAN: David, let's talk about people that you're talking about who have been brought to justice and captured. You're talking about people like Khalid Shaykh Muhammad; people like Abu Zubaydah.
Q I'm asking you --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is facts about what you're talking about.
Q Why does the CIA need an exemption from rules that would govern the conduct of our military in interrogation practices?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are already laws and rules that are on the books, and we follow those laws and rules. What we need to make sure is that we are able to carry out the war on terrorism as effectively as possible, not only --
Q What does that mean --
MR. McCLELLAN: What I'm telling you right now -- not only to protect Americans from an attack, but to prevent an attack from happening in the first place. And, you bet, when we capture terrorist leaders, we are going to seek to find out information that will protect -- that prevent attacks from happening in the first place. But we have an obligation to do so. Our military knows this; all people within the United States government know this. We have an obligation to do so in a way that is consistent with our laws and values.
Now, the people that you are bringing up -- you're talking about in the context, and I think it's important for the American people to know, are people like Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Binalshibh -- these are -- these are dangerous killers.
Q So they're all killers --
Q Did you ask for an exemption on torture? That's a simple question, yes or no.
MR. McCLELLAN: No. And we have not. That's what I told you at the beginning.
Q You want to reserve the ability to use tougher tactics with those individuals who you mentioned.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, obviously, you have a different view from the American people. I think the American people understand the importance of doing everything within our power and within our laws to protect the American people.
Q Scott, are you saying that Cheney did not ask --
Q What is it that you want the -- what is it that you want the CIA to be able to do that the U.S. Armed Forces are not allowed to do?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into talking about national security matters, Bill. I don't do that, because this involves --
Q This would be the exemption, in other words.
MR. McCLELLAN: This involves information that relates to doing all we can to protect the American people. And if you have a different view -- obviously, some of you on this room -- in this room have a different view, some of you on the front row have a different view.
Q We simply are asking a question.
Q What is the Vice President -- what is the Vice President asking for?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's spelled out in our statement of administration policy in terms of what our views are. That's very public information. In terms of our discussions with members of Congress --
Q -- no, it's not --
MR. McCLELLAN: In terms of our members -- like I said, there are already laws on the books that we have to adhere to and abide by, and we do. And we believe that those laws and those obligations address these issues.
Q So then why is the Vice President continuing to lobby on this issue? If you're very happy with the laws on the books, what needs change?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you asked me -- you want to ask questions of the Vice President's office, feel free to do that. We've made our position very clear, and it's spelled out on our website for everybody to see.
Q We don't need a website, we need you from the podium.
MR. McCLELLAN: And what I just told you is what our view is.
Q But Scott, do you see the contradiction --
MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, go ahead.
Q Will the President pledge not to pardon Lewis Libby?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to discuss an ongoing legal proceeding, and I'm not going to --
Q Can you just --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not going to speculate about any matters relating to it. This is something that is just beginning. There will be a hearing process that is going on right now, and we need to let that legal proceeding continue. I was asked this question last week, and that's -- I'm just not going to speculate about things at this point.
Q So if he's interested in seeing the legal process continue, that means he will not pardon him, is that correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: There is a legal proceeding --
Q That would interrupt the legal proceeding.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that is going on relating to that individual. Under our system, there is a presumption of innocence. And we're not going to comment on it while it is continuing. And I'm not going to -- certainly not going to speculate about it, as well.
Q Should we take that to mean it remains a possibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: It should mean exactly what I said.
Go ahead, Goyal.
Q Scott, before my question, I would like to thank the President and Mr. Andy Card for -- at the White House -- (inaudible) --. My question is that we don't know when the immigration law pending in the Congress will be through, but at this time, trafficking problem is a big one, especially the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Trafficking in persons?
MR. McCLELLAN: That is a high priority for this President to stop the trafficking in persons.
Q -- especially from South Asia, and now India Globe is working a story on a woman from Bangladesh. They bring them here, and then they won't give them a green card and citizenship and work. And then they exploit them and rape them and use them. And then these women have nowhere to go, and they seek help from -- what they should do because there is no one to help them out. And then Immigration have them deported -- they said you have no legal citizen here. What the President is going to do --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has made preventing the trafficking in persons a high priority, particularly trafficking that is involving sex crimes. That is something that he has talked about at the United Nations. It is an issue -- the trafficking in persons is an issue that he talked about just the other day when we were in Brazil, and the President was participating in a roundtable with some young professionals. And one of those persons was someone who worked for an organization that was committed to doing what they can to stop the trafficking in persons.
It's not only the sex trafficking, it's also the trafficking in persons that are seeking to come to our country illegally, simply to provide a better way of life for their families back home, their children, because they know that they might be able to provide a better opportunity for their families back home by coming here to the United States. And you have these coyotes, as the President has talked about, who illegally smuggle people into this country. That's something that we're focused on when it comes to enforcing our borders. That's why one of the President's top priorities on his agenda is taking steps to strengthen our border enforcement and to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform, because people have lost their lives needlessly and we've got to do more to enforce our borders, as well as to move forward on other initiatives to improve our immigration system. We need a more practical and realistic immigration system to address these problems.
Q At that meeting at Camp David, the President, Harriet Miers and Andrew Card talked about steps that would be taken -- does that mean there's going to be something in addition to the ethics --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was -- thank you for the opportunity to talk further about that. What the President directed them to do at Camp David was to move forward on the action that is taking place this week and next week, as well.
Q But, I mean, the steps being taken -- so that's it, just the classes?
MR. McCLELLAN: If you're asking me to limit the President's ability to make decisions that he deems are appropriate, I'm not going to do that. But this is the action that directed to be taken last week at Camp David.
Q Scott, is anyone in the White House exempt from participating in these and --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, it's a mandatory session.
Q Would the Vice President have to attend?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's mandatory for all White House staff. That's who it's for.
Q And he's considered staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he's considered the Vice President. (Laughter.)
Q So he does not have to attend?
MR. McCLELLAN: All White House staff is required to participate in these sessions.
Q Scott, if that is a refresher course, the initial time that they took this class, was there any kind of statement that people had to sign saying they understood what they had been trained or taught --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, when you go through the clearance process to receive classified clearances, or security clearances, you have to sign information and you go through detailed briefings.
Q And is there a portion in this training that says there are consequences if you don't follow the rules, if you don't follow these procedures --
MR. McCLELLAN: As I indicated at the beginning, everybody at the White House understands what's expected of them.
Q And they acknowledge that in a statement? Is that true?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not going to get into talking about everything that has to be signed when you go through a classified briefing on security clearances. But you do have to sign forms when you attend those briefings.
Q Saying that you understand the rules and the regulations, and that type of thing, and the training -- that you've taken this training and you understand the consequences?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is relating to classified security clearances, and that's all I'll say on it, and it's what I just said.
Q Scott, two on Australia and France. First of all, on the Australian arrests, has the U.S. coordinated with them, and is this as a result of Australia's cooperation with the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's something that you ought to direct to Australian authorities. They've talked about it and you can check with our law enforcement authorities to see if there's any additional information. I'll be glad to check on that, as well.
Q Are you pleased with Australia's actions? Do you have any comment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they're a good partner in the global war on terrorism, and they have been pursuing individuals who seek to do harm to their citizens. And they've announced some of the steps that they've taken and some of the results of those steps. I don't have any additional information on it at this point, other than what they have said publicly, Connie.
Q On the French riots, do you have any message for the French, and for Europe, in general, in light of these riots? And should Americans be encouraged to go to France and other countries which might --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Americans should always look to the guidance put out by our State Department in terms of travel, wherever they are traveling. It provides information regarding any security precautions or warnings that they should heed. And beyond that, you ought to talk to France about the steps they're taking to address that.
Go ahead, April.
Q Scott, the President was asked about an apology to the Wilson family, and he did not answer it. And if -- I'm wondering if that non-answer goes to the fact that an apology would be under review right now from the administration.
MR. McCLELLAN: It goes to the fact that there's an ongoing investigation and legal proceeding, and we're not going to have any further discussion of it while it is ongoing.
Q So are you saying an apology would compromise the investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know how I could make it more clear, in terms of our response to questions relating to an ongoing investigation.
Q You said that Chief of Staff and the White House Counsel were involved in planning the ethics classes. Karl is a pretty hands-on guy; how involved was he in the planning --
MR. McCLELLAN: It was the Counsel's Office. The Counsel's Office is the one that is responsible for conducting these ethics briefings. Richard Painter is our ethics counsel, and he is the one that conducts these briefings.
Q So he wasn't involved at all in setting it up, as Andy Card was?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, this was the President talking with Andy Card and Harriet Miers at Camp David, not this last weekend, but the weekend before.
Q So then you talk about having them in light of circumstances, is that a tacit acknowledgment that classified information has, in fact, been leaked?
MR. McCLELLAN: It was the way I described it.
Q Okay, one other quick one on the Vice President's lobbying. You said that we can direct questions to the Vice President's Office and, presumably, the Vice President is operating with the full knowledge of the President, in terms of lobbying to get an exemption for the CIA. Are you saying that the Vice President's Office is operating independently?
MR. McCLELLAN: What Helen was asking earlier was the exemption for torture, and that is just a flat-out false characterization. And no one is asking for that because the President has already made --
Q -- the question was --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the President has already made it clear that we do not torture and we do not tolerate torture. In fact, if you look at -- let's go back and just step back from this and let's look at some of what has happened that has put a stain on the image of the United States abroad. And that was what happened at Abu Ghraib. Well, what our military has done is acted to hold people accountable for their conduct, and to take steps to prevent something like that from happening again. They went through some 12 major investigations or reviews and looked at these issues. And now they've been implementing steps to prevent something like that from ever happening again.
Now, I welcome an opportunity to talk about this -- uninterrupted, I might add -- to talk about the importance of what we're working to do in the global war on terrorism. And the American people I think ought to hear what we are working to do, because the President takes very seriously his responsibility to do all that he can to protect them. We saw what happened on --
Q -- (inaudible) --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, I'm coming to your question. We saw what happened on September 11th, when some 3,000 innocent men, women and children were killed in New York, in Washington and in the fields of Pennsylvania. The President made a decision on that day that we were going to go on the offensive, that we were going to use all available tools to bring to justice those who seek to do us harm before they could carry out their attacks.
And he also made a commitment to work to change the status quo in the Middle East by spreading freedom. For too long we thought we had stability and peace in the Middle East, and we got neither. It became a breeding ground for terrorism. And that's why it's so important what we're working to achieve in the broader Middle East. That's why it's so important that we succeed in Iraq, because Iraq will be an example to the rest of the Middle East, just like Afghanistan is, in terms of that.
And in terms of what Congress is considering -- or, at least the Senate, in terms of this amendment -- the President answered this question just the other day. He talked about how we would continue to work with members of Congress to address this issue. But there are already --
Q What is the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- there are already laws on the books, but not only laws, they're also values that we very much adhere to. But we have an obligation to the American people --
Q How do values blend with what you said earlier, which is "what is necessary"? If what is necessary needs to be done, does that -- does "what is necessary" necessarily fit in with our values?
MR. McCLELLAN: What is necessary within our laws and within our values.
Q So that means not torture --
MR. McCLELLAN: You bet, the President is going to act to do what he can to prevent an attack from happening on the American people. That's what the American people expect. But we're going to do so consistent with our laws and values, and we've made that repeatedly clear.
Q So what is the Vice President lobbying for? And is he doing it on behalf of the White House, or is he operating independently?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I just said we're going to continue to work with Congress.
Q Why don't you answer the one question on exemption?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just did, Helen.
Q Does the Vice President's Office have -- I mean, you blanket -- covered the White House. The Vice President's Office is under the Office of the White House. Why can't you just -- why can't you answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into all the discussions we have with members of Congress. If they want to add additional information, you're welcome to contact their office, as well.
Q Well, they don't answer like you do. You are at that podium. We need to hear from you. You --
MR. McCLELLAN: And I just made it clear --
Q -- are the Press Secretary for all --
MR. McCLELLAN: There's a statement of administration policy that has been put out. And -- but let's talk about what this issue is relating to. This issue is relating to the protection of the American people and making sure that the President of the United States has the tools he needs to be able to prevent attacks from happening, and to be able to stop those terrorists who still seek to do us harm from carrying out their attacks in the first place.
Q -- the Vice President wants torture? Which --
MR. McCLELLAN: Wrong. That is absolutely false.
Q Well, then tell us --
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has made it very clear that we do not torture.
Q What is the Vice President doing?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you.
Q You have not. I'm not trying to be --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to let you -- you are mischaracterizing what this is about.
Q Scott, no, we want to know --
MR. McCLELLAN: It's clearly in the statement of administration policy. April, look, you can keep showboating for the cameras, but we've made clear what our views are.
Q Thank you -- I showboat well, thank you --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you are. Let's be honest about it.
Q I'm being honest. I want an honest answer from you.
MR. McCLELLAN: And you got it in the statement of administration policy.
Q -- in the website. That is not -- that is not --
MR. McCLELLAN: You got it in the statement of administration policy. There are already laws on the books that cover these issues.
Q -- this issue --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and that's what it is.
Q Well, give it to us then.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go look on our website. I'll be glad to provide it to you.
Q -- which website?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I just told you what it is. Are you not listening? I just told you what it is.
Q Scott, the Department of Defense is revising --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you need to calm down a little bit and let me respond.
Q Scott, the Department of Defense is revising its policy guidelines for the treatment of detainees for the war on terror --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q Vice President Cheney's office, his senior staff, had advised the uniform military lawyers working on this document that the White House is opposed to including any reference to Geneva Convention terms for humane treatment of detainees. Vice President Cheney's spokeswoman told us last week that that -- that the Vice President is pursuing the President's policy in holding that --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think -- who told you the first part of this? Let's talk about where that came from, first of all.
Q Well, the -- what are you talking about?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Vice President's office I don't think told you that first part of that, and you made it sound like the first part of that was from the Vice President's office. I don't think they told you that.
Q No, I'm not trying to make it sound like they did. There's --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're declaring that as fact.
Q -- published reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post -- we are reporting, as well. So the question is, what is the President's view with respect to this Department of Defense policy guideline on the treatment of --
MR. McCLELLAN: We have great confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense to move forward on steps to prevent something like what happened at Abu Ghraib from happening again. And that's what this comes out of, because, as I pointed out earlier, the Department of Defense undertook some 12 major investigations and reviews -- and/or reviews. They also pursued a number of cases against individuals who were responsible for these abuses, and they pursued people and held them to account. That's what the United States does. And that's the way we show the world what we are all about. We are about values and laws, and about adhering to those values and laws. And that's what we will continue to do. So they have taken steps, and are continuing to take steps, to put in place some policy directives that will build upon what they already had in place.
Q Is the President opposed to any reference to Geneva Convention or adherence to the Geneva Convention, directly, in this Department of Defense policy guideline?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the guidelines, those are guidelines that the Department of Defense will issue. And so I'd encourage you to talk further with them about that. Anytime there's something like this, there's an interagency process that goes on, and a number of people are involved in providing input into that process. That's part of the interagency process; that's a healthy part of being able to come to these decisions. And so that's what you're talking about.
Q The President has no view?
Bush is a bad mother fucker!
Thousands of Muslim’s have been swept up in a global dragnet and dumped in secret gulags where they are subjected to the grueling regimen of beatings and torture. The camps were authorized by President Bush in an executive “finding” 6 days after Sept 11, that’s when, as one high-ranking official said, “The gloves came off”. It “gave the CIA broad authorization to disrupt terrorist activity, including permission to kill, capture and detain members of "al Qaeda" anywhere in the world.”
Cheney Fights for Torture Policy!
Cheney says the United States does not torture captives, but believes the president needs nearly unfettered power to deal with "terrorists" to protect Americans.
I think we should torture Scooter Libby.
Afterall, as Dick Cheney previously said:“A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in. And so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”And if we are going to get to the bottom of who put an American CIA agent in jeopardy, it is incumbent upon us to torture Scooter. Water board him, strip him naked and smear him with his own feces and walk him on a leash down the mall, beat him with rolled-up copies of Condolezza Rice's unread National Intelligence Estimates, keep him awake for hours on end while reading to him from James Lilek's new book, Cute Things Gnat Said While I Was Lurking Around the Bra Department At Target, until he tells us who tipped him off about Valerie Plame.A secure America demands no less.We might want to smack Karl Rove around too. That fat prick knows something. I can just feel it...
President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top administration officials repeatedly claimed that Iraq was providing al-Qaeda with training in chemical and biological weapons. The administration’s claims were based on the statements of a known fabricator, al Qaeda senior military trainer Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi. It gets worse. The Washington Post reports that al-Libi formally retracted his claims in early 2004: In fact, in January 2004 al-Libi recanted his claims, and in February 2004 the CIA withdrew all intelligence reports based on his information. Months later, Cheney was still pushing al-Libi’s claims anyway. Here’s Cheney on CNBC’s Kudlow & Kramer, 6/4/04: "It’s clearly established in terms of training, provision of bomb-making experts, training of people with respect to chemical and biological warfare capabilities, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Iraq for training and so forth."
How far should the Government be allowed to go to stop a terrorist attack?
How far should the Government be allowed to go to NOT stop a terrorist attack?
Iraq plans hotel and theme parks for a tourism boom?http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article325277.ece
The building will have to be built to withstand mortar and rocket attack, just as the one major existing hotel in the Green Zone. "Tourists should dress like locals and maybe dye their hair."
64 per cent of respondents believe the result of the war with Iraq was not worth the loss of American life and other costs. 57 per cent say things going badly for U.S. in Iraq, 48 per cent say Iraq will never become a democracy, 38 per cent say the Bush administration hid "important elements" when discussing the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
So when do we get invaded to remove the rogue government that spies on its own people, gases its own people during anti War protests, stages "terrorist" attacks, holds crooked elections, attacks other nations without cause, and uses torture on innocent people looking for WMD that don't exist?