12:30 P.M. EDTBut you don't reciprocate, now do you Mr. Snow:
MR. SNOW: I feel so loved.
Q Welcome to the White House Press Office.
MR. SNOW: Thank you very much. Well, it's good to be here. Thank you one and all.
Q In his news conference with John Howard, was the President giving kind of a back-handed confirmation of the stories that the NSA is compiling telephone --Ah, obfuscation. Just like Scotty, but different. Neither confirming nor denying means your hiding something, doesn't it?
MR. SNOW: No, he wasn't. If you go back and listen to the answer he gave you, he was talking about foreign-to-domestic calls. The allegations in the USA Today piece, which we'll neither confirm or deny, are of a different nature. So, no, he was not giving a back-handed confirmation.
Q Well, he said they're very aware of what is taking place, and he said the question he's asking about has been fully briefed to members in the United States Congress.
MR. SNOW: Well, what he's talking about is that all intelligence matters conducted by the National Security Agency -- and we've said this many times -- have been fully briefed to a handful of members of the Senate Intelligence and House Intelligence Committees and to the leadership.
Of course, there's the "I agree with you" gambit to avoiding answering the questions as well. Mix that with a little repetition, and voila, you don't have to share any answers:
Q The President today denied he'd ever broken the law in terms of wiretaps. He also indicated that anything that was looked into, any calls, had some sort of foreign aspect either to or from. And he has said he's always obeyed the law. Are all of these stories untrue that we've been reading for the last several days that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?But only if it serves his purpose. By the way, the President did admit to tapping phones with no warrant. Of course, you can disagree that it was a violation of the law, but I think the courts will see it our way on this one - that is, unless W has stacked the SCOTUS enough with activist judges of his stripe.
MR. SNOW: Well, let's --
Q Are the phone calls turned over to the government?
MR. SNOW: Okay, let's try to segregate the stories here. What he's said about the terror surveillance program is that these are foreign-to-domestic calls and they were all done within the parameters of the law. He has not commented on the --
Q He, himself, has said he didn't obey that law.
MR. SNOW: No, he didn't. What he said is that he has done everything within the confines of the law. The second thing is, you're mentioning a USA Today story about which this administration has no comment. But I would direct you back to the USA Today story itself, and if you analyze what that story said, what did it say? It said there is no wiretapping of individual calls, there is no personal information that is being relayed. There is no name, there is no address, there is no consequence of the calls, there's no description of who the party on the other end is.
Q Privacy was breached by turning over their phone numbers.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, you are jumping to conclusions about a program, the existence of which we will neither confirm, nor deny.
Q Why? Don't you think the American people have a right to know --
MR. SNOW: Because -- what's interesting is, there seems to be a notion that because the President has talked a little bit about one surveillance program and one matter of intelligence gathering, that somehow we have to tell the entire world we have to make intelligence gathering transparent. Let me remind you, it's a war on terror, and there are people -- I guarantee you, al Qaeda does not believe --
Q He doesn't have a right to break the law, does he?
MR. SNOW: No, the President is not talking about breaking the law. But al Qaeda doesn't believe in transparency. What al Qaeda believes in is mayhem, and the President has a constitutional obligation and a heartfelt determination to make sure we fight it.
Q -- to obey the Constitution --
MR. SNOW: Absolutely right.
Q -- the Fourth Amendment --
MR. SNOW: Absolutely right, and he believes in obeying it.
But I digress, the W, Rove and Co, continues to fuck California (not unlike they did with the whole Enron situation):
Q Do you have any reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger's comments that the border state governors were not consulted about the President's immigration proposal, about the troops on the border, and that they don't like the idea?Here' we have the "it's inappropriate" gambit, but ask yourself by whose standards are we to measure the appropriateness of these things?
MR. SNOW: Well, governors are going to have different opinions. And I think also, as people again begin to be read into the program, let's see what they have to say. Obviously, we take seriously what Governor Schwarzenegger has to say about the issue. There was consultation on the staff level, and I guarantee you there will be consultation on the principals level, as well...
...Q Tony, it sounds as though the President did not talk to any of the border state governors, himself, is that correct?
MR. SNOW: I'm not going to engage in on deliberations. I honestly am not sure. I know for a fact that there was staff contact. I don't know if the President called the governors.
Q How about with the Hill? Did the President -- or was it all left to the staff?
MR. SNOW: There, again, I'm not going to get into what the President did or didn't do.
Q Tony, I'm curious, why won't you comment at all on the USA Today story, or at least talk in a limited way about how average Americans' phone records are handled by the National Security Agency?Oh, and here's the ever popular, "no comment" gambit.
MR. SNOW: Because it's inappropriate.
Q Has Karl Rove told the President that he will resign if he is indicated in the Valerie Plame affair?But can we assume that Uncle Karl has talked to the President about this issue given his reponse?
MR. SNOW: I am not going to comment at all on Karl Rove and his private communications with the President, nor am I going to comment on what may or may not happen.
By the way, does anyone know the background on this "hug the tarbaby" thing?
Q Hi, Tony. Welcome, and nice, nice and zippy. A couple of personal questions. You've made a lot of -- (laughter.) What are your personal goals, what do you hope to achieve here? Will you continue to televise these briefings? And would you put into English the phrase, "hug the tar baby"?And finally, the trouble emerges. The Snow-job indicates that the president has ultimate faith in a program that is still not completely ironed out:
MR. SNOW: Well, when we hug the tar baby -- we could trace that back to American lore. I don't see it as a personal sacrifice to answer a call from the President of the United States to come and serve, I consider it an honor. That still gives me chills. I go out at the end of that lawn, I look back the pillars, and think, man, I'm working here. I don't know if you ever do this, but if you don't, I suggest you do. It's an astounding thing. And whatever the citizens and you may feel about your particular state in life, this is a very special place to work.
Q Tony, a lot of people that have been looking at the immigration issue for a long time say that the President is wasting his time talking about border patrol, that it's an issue that he'll never gain -- this question of temporary workers is something that he'll never convince the hardcore conservatives about, no matter how long he talks about border patrol. What can he do to talk directly to the more moderate doubters in the Senate and the House about this temporary worker --So, more leading on and by faith, I see.
MR. SNOW: Look, every aspect of this program is something in which the President deeply believes in. I think you've just made the case for leadership here. The President is not sitting around doing calculations about how you get a vote here or there; he's talking about a comprehensive solution. And I think what he will end up doing is talking with members of both parties, of all ideological stripes -- because the idea somehow that there's one group of people and only one group of people -- labor, also, has had problems with the idea of trying to deal with these.
I think the President is looking for a way to reach across both parties, to have bipartisan cooperation on building a solution that is going to be reflective of American ideals and contemporary realities.