Cool, now you can download some higher resolution images direct from the Whitehouse.
I liked this one, and the President met Tiger Woods. Of course, these are just publicity photos. The real meat of the day has revolved around the press for a releasing of further torture memos. I say, bring it on. The American people are hearty, and can't solve the problems without all the information. They do no favors by keeping the information from us.
Q So is that an indication that you don't want to see an independent commission? I'm trying to understand.But even so, the door is left open later in the briefing.
MR. GIBBS: By dint, an independent commission would probably not be something that I would weigh in on if Congress were to create one of those. I think that -- from the larger perspective, the President believes, as both of us have said, that the release of the memos are not a time for a retribution but to reflect on what happens and that we're all best suited looking forward.
Q Robert, does the President believe someone ought to be punished for allowing waterboarding? He changed the policy, but does he believe somebody ought to be punished?There in lies the fundamental problem with the Bush approach - they authorized torture. Doing so becomes reason for others to join the terrorists. So, as to if the information gained was useful, there is no real way to measure how harmful it was, but it makes perfect sense how harmful it was to us, our way of life, and the very fabric of our Constitutional foundation.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that determination is going to be left up to, as I've said for any number of days looking backward on this now, that that's going to be made by a legal official.
Q And that legal official is the Attorney General?
MR. GIBBS: In our Constitution it is.
Q And what about this idea of the Attorney General appointing a special prosecutor?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I addressed this --
Q Is that his -- is that the Attorney General's decision or is that ultimately the President's decision?
MR. GIBBS: I'd have to look up, honestly, the legal statute to determine that. I don't -- I don't think the -- I don't believe that there's -- I think the Justice Department is fully capable of weighing the law.
Q You don't think a special prosecutor is necessary?
MR. GIBBS: I don't -- I don't think anybody has presented a compelling case why the Justice Department couldn't do this.
Q And then one final thing on this. Did Vice President Cheney make a specific request -- is it an official request that he wants these other memos declassified as far as you guys know?
MR. GIBBS: I would have to double-check with CIA. I think that the -- that request -- as I understand, what the Vice President has said, a request came to -- several weeks ago to the CIA. I don't -- but I have not talked to him.
Q Given that General Jones apparently was involved with helping to expedite with Jay Rockefeller, does that mean you guys will have a role in deciding whether this gets declassified or not?
MR. GIBBS: I believe so. I mean, I believe that --
Q It will come to your desk, it just hasn't happened yet?
MR. GIBBS: I think that's the case. I mean, I think declassification happens here.
MR. GIBBS: Yes, sir.
Q Do you know if President Obama has read these memos to which Vice President Cheney is referring that showed that the enhanced interrogation techniques saved lives and didn't make America less safe, as you just said?
MR. GIBBS: I don't know if he -- I don't know if he has read the specific memos that Vice President Cheney may be referring to. But, Mark, let me broaden your question a bit. And I think you would get this from virtually every intelligence official who objectively looked at this, and that is that the efficacy of this is in many ways ambiguous, that whatever information -- I think people will tell you that there was information that was procured that was helpful, and information that was procured that was made up. Nobody could ever likely tell you that any information derived couldn't also have been derived from another mean.
But as I've said, and the President have said, what the -- if you look at the totality of the impact of this on our national security, building off of what I told Ed, our team, and many others outside of our team, have weighed in on the notion that the cost and the benefit of this -- that the benefit is greatly outweighed by the cost to our national security.
There are things that this country doesn't do. That's part of the criteria that the President used to -- on the -- in the very beginning of this administration outlaw these techniques from being used. The existence of and the use of these techniques became a recruitment tool and a rallying cry for terrorists all over the globe. And, as I mentioned, it makes it harder to -- the use of these techniques makes it harder to protect our own troops, and that that is the -- those are the reasons in total why this makes our country less safe.
Of course, you can question the whole of it, might the ends justify the means?
Q You also said that -- you also said that the intelligence that was derived that Cheney is talking about could have been derived from another means. You said that to Chuck.I would have to agree with the President here, at some point, the ends do not justify the means and they may actually do more harm than good.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think it is -- what is unknowable is whether that could be derived. I mean, again, that is -- part of this whole process is when you decide to do something it's -- you can't then go back and decide if the same action could have happened as a result of something else. That's why I think that whatever question is discussed here, it's -- I'd go back to my answer that I gave to Mark, which is that all of this is bigger than one certain amount or one smaller question, because you have to take into account the totality of our security -- whether or not the use of and the existence of certain techniques become a rallying cry and a recruitment tool for those that seek to do us harm each day. And that the -- there are things that this country does do and certain things this country doesn't do, and that this President has determined that we are going to -- we can protect the security of our country and our people and uphold our values and not have those two conflict.
At the tail end of the press conference, we see the President has hired some very smart guys. Do you buy this close?
MR. GIBBS: The best way to determine -- the best way to determine who's going to -- the rule of law is to have it determined by lawyers who can determine whether or not somebody knowingly broke the law.Very interesting. I think we see that there is a very good reason certain members of the W, Rove and Co are squawking more than others. They don't want to go to jail for doing what what they believe was right, even if in the end, it was indeed wrong and illegal.
Q We've started talking in the last 24 hours more and more about very high-ranking people -
MR. GIBBS: I haven't talked about --
Q -- Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney --
MR. GIBBS: -- you guys have.
Q If in fact it reaches that level, would the President weigh in?
MR. GIBBS: Okay, you guys and Jay Rockefeller. (Laughter.)
I'm sorry, what was --
Q Would the President weigh in --
MR. GIBBS: Now, that we've --
Q -- turn to very high-ranking levels of the government? What does he think, for example, of the fact that Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon? Was that a breach of the presidential duty, or should that have been left to the Attorney General?
MR. GIBBS: I think the President has seen Frost/Nixon, but I do not know whether he's determined the efficacy of such a pardon.
There in lies the difference between leadership by faith versus leadership by fact. And, we see what we get from the current administration is fact based decision making. Thankfully, we have a thinking president in the Whitehouse these days. Will the rule of law win? The jury is still out on that no doubt.
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