Monday, July 03, 2006

Meanwhile, The Whitehouse Admits To More Leaks: The Difference Between Options and Recomendations

Here's an interesting exchange between some Whitehouse beat reporters and Mr. Tony the Snow-job. You should notice two things - 1) another leak of high level secrets, and 2) whether Tony arives at a conclusive distinction between "options," and recomendations:
Q Have you ever explained why Casey's recommendation for a draw-down on troops was not announced, or not even revealed until after the debate on the Hill?

MR. SNOW: Because General Casey provides lots of different scenarios, and we never announce them. I mean, in a time of war --

Q This is one scenario that he'd given quite before the debate, maybe a week or so.

MR. SNOW: Well, this is a scenario that was leaked. Somebody had leaked it. But we don't leak each and every piece of advice or every scenario the General --

Q You're saying it should have come out, though, at that time? It should have been a part of the debate?

MR. SNOW: No, no. When you're talking about the debate, which debate are you talking about?

Q I'm talking about the debate on the Hill, and so forth, where you accuse everybody of cutting and running if they want to pull out of the --

MR. SNOW: Wait a minute. I don't believe that phrase has ever been used from this podium. People have -- no, I mean --

THE PRESS: Hmmm. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: You better go back and check your notes. (Laughter.) Okay, by the present -- by the present occupant of this podium.

Q It was being mulled around, certainly this -- you keep talking about recommendation from the ground, and the military.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q You had a recommendation and it didn't come up on the Hill.

MR. SNOW: No, no, no. The important -- we did not have a recommendation. We had an option. And that's -- that's a very important and critical -- if General Casey says, got to pull them out, got to do this, then the President has made it clear.

Q He is never going to say that to the President.

MR. SNOW: Sure he is. If he gives military advice and he says, Mr. President, we need to do this --

Q He will never say, "got to" to his Commander-in-Chief.

MR. SNOW: Okay, "Sir, I strongly recommend that we do this." The President has said that he will -- he has to have trust in the person who is running the operation in Iraq, and that is General Casey. And he has made it very clear that when General Casey makes a specific recommendation, especially something like that, he will be inclined to follow it.

Q Was that a recommendation?

MR. SNOW: No, it was an option. It was a scenario. It was not a recommendation.

Q What were the other options?

MR. SNOW: I'm not going to tell you. Again, it gets to the point

Q What's the difference?

MR. SNOW: The difference is, the President -- I think this helps answer Helen's question. We've talked all along about conditions on the ground, what happens if these various sets of conditions apply. And we've also made it very clear that at some point, American forces are going to be leaving and Iraqis will have sole responsibility for safety and security within Iraq. That has always also been a goal. It involves not merely military forces, but police forces. So all of those things in play, if General Casey were to say, okay, sir, the time is right now, based on the conditions on the ground to start moving brigades, or whatever, then the President has been pretty clear that he very likely would follow that advice. It has not risen yet to the point of advice, it's a scenario. There's an option.

Q Why wasn't it in the mix on the debate.

MR. SNOW: Because it is inappropriate for a Commander-in-Chief to start saying, here are the scenarios my General has laid out before me. It is highly unusual in a time of war --

Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: Because you do not have perfect transparency in terms of your tactics or your options because to do so is to signal to the people who are fighting you ways in which they may adjust their tactics, as well, in order to make life more difficult not only on the ground for you, but for the people for whom you are fighting.

Q It's very crucial debate on the Hill what was going on.

MR. SNOW: No, no -- there's -- I'm sorry you missed it last week, but there are some very significant differences between what General Casey had been describing and what was being laid out in some of the resolutions on the Hill.

What we saw, and some of the things being debated in the House and Senate, were timetables. Whether you call it a phased withdrawal or whatever, it is, you move troops out according to a schedule. That has never been this administration's position. The goal of many of those being debated in the United States Senate and the United States House was not victory, but withdrawal. What we have said is, victory is the goal. You do withdrawals only consistent with conditions on the ground. There is no discussion of conditionality, in some of those resolutions. Instead, they're simply based on timetables. One set of -- one debate was based on a calendar, the other was based on conditions on the ground. And I dare say there's a very significant difference between the two.

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