Have a look at the first sentence out of his mouth as he tries to "set the record straight" in his last press briefing before a long hiatus to Kennebunkport and then onto his hobby ranch in Texas to cool his heals and clear some brush (while our GIs are still getting pasted in W's much beloved Iraqi Democracy Freedom Spreading Experiment):
Really, W's suffering from a real lack of sincerity and is not believable at all, in my book. Have a look at this reply and see if you find his answer credible?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You speak often about taking care of the troops and honoring their sacrifice. But the family of Corporal Pat Tillman believes there was a cover up regarding his death, and some say perhaps he was even murdered, instead of just friendly fire. At a hearing last week on Capitol Hill your former Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, other officials used some version of "I don't recall" 82 times. When it was his term to step up, Pat Tillman gave up a lucrative NFL career, served his country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Now you have a chance to pledge to the family that your government, your administration will finally get to the bottom of it. Can you make that pledge to the family today, that you'll finally, after seven investigations, find out what really happened?Okay, I think I know what he's trying to say, but I still don't believe him. Moreover, it leaves a lot of wiggle room for there to be a cover up executed by his run-away Veep who answers to only to himself to orchestrate just such a thing.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I can understand why Pat Tillman's family, you know, has got significant emotions, because a man they loved and respected was killed while he was serving his country. I always admired the fact that a person who was relatively comfortable in life would be willing to take off one uniform and put on another to defend America. And the best way to honor that commitment of his is to find out the truth. And I'm confident the Defense Department wants to find out the truth, too, and we'll lay it out for the Tillman family to know.
Q But, Mr. President, there have been seven investigations and the Pentagon has not gotten to the bottom of it. Can you also tell us when you, personally, found out that it was not enemy fire, that it was friendly fire?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't give you the precise moment. But obviously the minute I heard that the facts that people believed were true were not true, that I expect there to be a full investigation and get to the bottom of it.
Perhaps he didn't know, but he didn't bother to find out the truth and he certainly tolerates being lied to more than I think a president should. Here in lies the rub.
Given: We know for a fact know that the Tillman case was a cover up.
Given: The President came to know about it, but we don't know when.
Given: Obviously the President was not told the truth until much later because, according to his own words above, if he had known about it, he would have started an investigation sooner rather than later.
Given: Pat Tillman was killed a long while back, not just yesterday.
Thus my question: If we know that W's subordinates regularly either lie, don't report, or purposefully mislead the president, how do we know if the president is making decisions based on all available, credible information?
In other words, the president may only be telling the truth because he doesn't know the full scope of what is going on. Let me demonstrate:
Q Thank you, sir. A two-part question. The New Yorker reports that the Red Cross has found the interrogation program in the CIA detention facilities use interrogation techniques that were tantamount to torture. I'm wondering if you have read that report and what your reaction to it is? And the second part of the question is, more than a year ago you said that you wanted to close the detention facility at Guantanamo, and a year later nothing has actually happened in that regard. And the Vice President, Attorney General and Homeland Security Secretary are reported to be resisting such a move. I wonder if you could tell us who's really in charge on this issue, are you doing anything about it, do you expect Guantanamo to be open or closed when you leave office?You see how W can fully and forcefully believe this don't you? People didn't tell him about Abu Gharib until the pictures were released by some one with a real conscience.
THE PRESIDENT: I did say it should be a goal of the nation to shut down Guantanamo. I also made it clear that part of the delay was the reluctance of some nations to take back some of the people being held there. In other words, in order to make it work, we've got to have a place for these people to go. I don't know if you noticed a resolution of the Senate the other day, where all but three senators said we don't want these prisoners in the country. I don't know if it was a 97-3 vote, but it was something-to-three vote. In other words, part of the issue, Peter, is the practical issue of, what do we do with the people. And you say nothing has taken place. I strongly disagree with that. First of all, we are working with other nations to send folks back. Again, it's a fairly steep order. A lot of people don't want killers in their midst, and a lot of these people are killers.
Secondly, of course, we want to make sure that when we do send them back, they're treated as humanely as possible. The other issue was whether or not we can get people to be tried. One of the things I'm anxious about, want to see happen, is that there to be trials. Courts have been involved with deciding how to do this, and Defense is trying to work out mechanisms to get the trials up and running. And the sooner we can get that up and running, the better it is, as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to make any predictions about whether Guantanamo will be available or not. I'm just telling you it's a very complicated subject.
And I laid out an aspiration. Whether or not we can achieve that or not, we'll try to. But it is not as easy a subject as some may think on the surface. Again, I refer to you to the Senate vote. When asked whether or not you want to shut down Guantanamo, and therefore receive some of those prisoners in your home state, there didn't seem to be a lot of support for it. Like, three people said, it's okay by me, in the Senate.
Your other question, sir?
Q Red Cross report?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't seen it. We don't torture.
It may well be that, indeed, the President is completely wrong here but he still believes it because his employees purposefully keep him out of the loop. Reagan perfected this political ploy, and it's called "plausible deniability." But what it gets America is a president whom we don't know if he's unwittingly or knowingly lying to us.
The Red Cross doesn't usually make shit up, but our government does. See my argument about the Pat Tillman case if you need a hard factual example of this.
Finally, the president has his chance to spill the usual rhetoric and dodge another question for him by diverting the attention to others. I'll not comment at the tail end leaving it to you to chime in on your thoughts in a comment to this post.
Suffice it to say, what's wrong with this president is that he is not credible, believable, or trustworthy by any measure. Thus, when he exhales his political hot air, and launches yet another volley from his Presidential Propaganda Catapult (from the bully pulpit), I don't find I can stomach the opinion because I know that he's being lied to by his staff.
Q Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about accountability. You're a big believer in it, you've talked about it with regard to the public schools. But given the performance of Iraqi leaders, given your decision to commute the sentence of Lewis Libby, you've also stood by the Attorney General recently -- there have been a lot of questions about your commitment to accountability. And I'm wondering if you could give the American people some clear examples of how you've held people accountable during your presidency?
THE PRESIDENT: Lewis Libby was held accountable. He was declared guilty by a jury and he's paid a high price for it.
Al Gonzales -- implicit in your questions is that Al Gonzales did something wrong. I haven't seen Congress say he's done anything wrong. As a matter of fact, I believe, David, we're watching a political exercise. I mean, this is a man who has testified, he's sent thousands of papers up there. There's no proof of wrong. Why would I hold somebody accountable who has done nothing wrong? I mean, frankly, I think that's a typical Washington, D.C. assumption -- not to be accusatory, I know you're a kind, open-minded fellow, but you suggested holding the Attorney General accountable for something he did wrong.
And as a matter of fact, I would hope Congress would become more prone to deliver pieces of legislation that matter, as opposed to being the investigative body. I mean, there have been over 600 different hearings and, yet, they're struggling with getting appropriations bills to my desk.
Q If I could follow -- sorry. Given the decision to commute the sentence of Libby and given the performance of Iraqi leaders, is it fair for people to ask questions about your commitment to accountability?
THE PRESIDENT: I would hope people would say that I am deliberate in my decision-making; I think about all aspects of the decisions I make; and I'm a fair person.
Back to Iraq, no question they haven't made as much progress as I would have hoped. But I also recognize how difficult the task is. And I repeat to you the fundamental question is, does it matter whether or not there is a self-governing entity that's an ally in the war on terror in Iraq? Does it matter? Does it matter to a guy living in Crawford, Texas? Does it matter to your children? As you know from these press conferences, I have come to the conclusion that it does matter. And it does matter because enemies that would like to do harm to the American people would be emboldened by failure.
I recognize there's a debate here in America as to whether or not failure in Iraq would cause there to be more danger here in America. I strongly believe that's the case. It matters if the United States does not believe in the universality of freedom. It matters to the security of people here at home if we don't work to change the conditions that cause 19 kids to be lured onto airplanes to come and murder our citizens.
The first question one has to ask on Iraq is, is it worth it? I could not send a mother's child into combat if I did not believe it was necessary for our short-term and long-term security to succeed in Iraq. Once you come to the conclusion that it's worth it, then the question you must ask is, how difficult is the task of a young democracy emerging? Those who study the Articles of Confederation would recognize that there are difficult moments in young democracies emerging, particularly after, in this case, tyrannical rule.
That's not to say that, Dave, we shouldn't be pushing hard for all opportunities for reconciliation. But for those of us who believe it's worth it, we'll see progress. For those who believe it's not worth it, there is no progress. And that's going to be the interesting debate. And what it's going to come down to is whether or not the United States should be in Iraq and in the region in a position to enable societies to begin to embrace liberty for the long-term. This is an ideological struggle.
Now, I recognize some don't view it as an ideological struggle, but I firmly believe it is an ideological struggle. And I believe it's a struggle between the forces of moderation and reasonableness and good, and the forces of murder and intolerance. And what has made the stakes so high is that those forces of murder and intolerance have shown they have the capacity to murder innocent people in our own country. I put that in the context of accountability.
In the case of Iraq, it's a lot more complicated than just the passage of four laws, even though I would hope they would get the four laws passed. But again, I repeat, the threshold question, does it matter, does it matter to our security here at home? And the answer is, absolutely, it does. It does. And then the second question really for a lot of Americans is, can we succeed? And in my mind, the answer to that is absolutely, not only we must succeed, we can succeed.
Listen, thank you all for your time. I appreciate it.