Q Tony, following on that. Whenever the President has received criticism about the terrorist surveillance program, he has said, look, top Justice Department officials are monitoring this for abuses. Okay, very dramatic testimony on Capitol Hill today -- James Comey, who in 2004 was the Acting Attorney general, testified that when he raised objections to the terrorist surveillance program, that Alberto Gonzales, as White House Counsel, and the White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, took this extraordinary measure -- they went to the hospital room of John Ashcroft to try to get him to override what Jim Comey was saying, about how this needs proper legal footing. So wasn't that an end run by the White House to try to get John Ashcroft to overrule James Comey?Well, that's one doozy of a question. Has any one seen this testimony? I don't general watch CSPAN, but this may be really interesting to have a gander at. How does Tony respond, you ask?
MR. SNOW: Well, number one, you've got a representation of internal White House deliberations, and we simply don't talk about that and are not going to.The truth is going to come out eventually, and spear the Whitehouse right through it's heart. Some day, and I have said this before, some one very close to the President or one of the other Rove and Co. automatons is going to experience a crisis of conscience and write a tell-all that will eventually bring down the W, Rove and Co house of cards. It has to happen as this much bungling of the business of America is not going to go unnoticed....but I digress.
Q But he's testified on Capitol Hill. I mean, he --
MR. SNOW: I understand that, but --
Q All that "you have to tell the truth to the American people" -- he's testified about this now, it's public.
What say you Mr. Snow?
MR. SNOW: Let me give you a couple of things. Also, what had always been noted is the terrorist surveillance program was, in fact, something that was constantly reviewed by the Department of Justice at either 45- or 90-day periods, and furthermore was reviewed by the Inspectors General at the Department of Justice and at the National Security Agency. In addition, there was review by the FISA Court. The terrorist surveillance program saved lives, period.Really? Until you can prove it in public, this is a hypothetical in any book. The days of trust us because we work for the President are over.
What else have you got Tony?
Number two, those who had questions about the FISA Court sat down and worked with the administration last year, and we worked out legislation that I think has met any questions that anybody had. But the fact is, you've got reforms, and I'm not going to talk about old conversations.Really? We don't know that for sure, do we Tony? We've been side tracked by many more scandals plaguing your president's administration, such that we have lost sight of the illegal wire tapping concern.
Q But you had the Acting Attorney General at the time saying, in regards to what Inspectors General -- the acting -- chief law enforcement officer in the country is saying in 2004, I've got problems with this, and then you've got the Chief of Staff and the Counsel, Alberto Gonzales at the time, going -- and according to James Comey, they were trying to take advantage of a sick man who was in intensive care.This doesn't surprise me in the very least, and is completely believable. The W, Rove and Co are that sick a bunch of folk that they would do this.
MR. SNOW: Trying to take advantage of a sick man -- because he had an appendectomy, his brain didn't work?Okay, you are really digging a big hole here Tony...but there is more. This isn't just some left-wing attack. There are Republicans jumping on the bandwagon here...Q
Q Yes, "I was very upset, I was angry." He was in intensive care at GW. "I thought I had just witnessed an effort" --
MR. SNOW: I --
Q -- let me just tell you -- "I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man." Okay? Did any White House officials come and try to take advantage of you -- I mean, that's really not applicable in terms of this.
MR. SNOW: You know what, Ed --
Q They were trying to take advantage of him, according to James Comey.
MR. SNOW: Ed, I'm just telling you, I don't know anything about the conversations. I've also told you the relevant thing, which is, you wanted to ask from a substantive point of view, were there protections in terms of the terrorist surveillance program -- the answer is yes. It had multiple layers of review, both within the Department of Justice and the National Security Agency. Jim Comey can talk about whatever reservations he may have had, but the fact is that there were strong protections in there. This is a program that saved lives, that is vital for national security, and furthermore has been reformed in a bipartisan way that is in keeping with everybody. And you can go -- frankly, ask him. I'm not talking about --
Last question. The Republican, Arlen Specter, not James Comey, reacted to this by comparing it to the Saturday night massacre during Watergate. Are you concerned about Republicans now comparing this White House to the Nixon White House?"We're not talking about internal deliberations" is all you've got? That's not very substantial in terms of repudiating the claims of this person's testimony, no is it?
MR. SNOW: What I'm concerned about is -- I'm not even going to get there. That's too tempting and probably not responsible on my part. I think what you really want to do is --
Q Oh, go ahead. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: That's my way of counting to 10. (Laughter.)
The fact is, you've got somebody who has splashy testimony on Capitol Hill. Good for him. We're not talking about internal deliberations.
Q Let me just read one other thing that Senator Specter said today about the Attorney General. He spoke about Mr. McNulty's resignation, and called it "a significant step and evidence that a department really cannot function with the continued leadership or lack of leadership of Attorney General Gonzales." That is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. How can he continue with that kind of comment?Why stop now? The W, Rove and Co has a history of backing people that cause calamity for or are an embarrassment to the American people.
MR. SNOW: He's going to continue, he's going to continue. We have faith in him. We disagree with Senator Specter, but we understand that he's got his concerns. Members of Congress are free to express them.
The fact is, if you take a look at personnel throughout the administration, we actually continue to recruit first-rate people for this administration, and Paul McNulty served the administration well. He's decided that it's time that he wants to move on. We thank him for his service, and we are sure that there is going to be a new deputy attorney general who is going to meet the same high standard. And we have full confidence in Alberto Gonzales.Just like Brownie, et al? Yes, even moral deviants and ethically slippery folk like Wolfowitz...have a look at this tidbit...
Q Tony, on Wolfowitz. ABC was reporting that -- on Wolfowitz's future -- "all options are on the table," and second, that it's an "open question" whether he should stay. Does that reflect the White House views?Of course they do, because he is a reflection of them. The time for impeachment is not slipping away. Proceedings can be started at any time.
MR. SNOW: Let me explain. There are two separate things going on. Number one, there is an inquiry right now -- I believe Mr. Wolfowitz today is talking to the World Bank, presenting his side -- on personnel matters. And what we've said all along is, first, we do support Paul Wolfowitz.
For once, Lester - one of the regular "two part" questioners in the pool - has a point worth repeating:
Q Okay. In view of the extensive media coverage, there are millions of Americans who are wondering, how does the President, as a devout Christian and faithful husband, believe that the Bush administration is rightfully serving this country and providing moral guidance to our young people by saying that it is not a firing offense for a man who boosted the salary of his mistress to head the World Bank?Well, then, what are the issues and are they not related...
MR. SNOW: Well, I believe what we are talking about here is so-called firing offenses in terms of personnel policies and communications. I like the fact that you presented it in a colorful and moralistic way, but I don't believe that those particular issues were the approximate issues before the World Bank, or before the President, or before the board of governors at the World Bank.