June 07, 2005

A Gaggle of Geese

On May 1, 2005, the Times of London released the Downing Street Memo. Since then, while it is true that the White House has been "mum" about this revealing memo, it is also true, and much more disturbing, that the White House press corps has been all-but silent.

Outside of the question about whether President Bush would respond to the Congressional letter signed by 89 House Democrats which asked the President to explain himself in light of the Downing Street Memo (the answer was an emphatic "no"), only one (1) question on the Downing Street memo was asked at any White House Press briefing and that was on May 23, 2005.

Q Scott, last week you said that claims in the leaked Downing Street memo that intelligence was being fixed to support the Iraq War as early as July 2002 are flat-out wrong. According to the memo which was dated July 23, 2002, and whose authenticity has not been disputed by the British Government, both Foreign Minister Jack Straw and British Intelligence Chief Sir Richard Dearlove said that the President had already made up his mind to invade Iraq. Dearlove added that intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. Do you think these two very senior officials of our closest ally were flat-out wrong? And if so, how could they have been so misinformed after their conversations with George Tenet and Condoleezza Rice?
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me correct you on the -- let me correct you on the characterization of the quote you attributed to me. I'm referring to some of the allegations that were made referring to a report. In terms of the intelligence, the -- if anyone wants to know how the intelligence was used by the administration, all they have to do is go back and look at all the public comments over the course of the lead-up to the war in Iraq, and that's all very public information. Everybody who was there could see how we used that intelligence.
And in terms of the intelligence, it was wrong, and we are taking steps to correct that and make sure that in the future we have the best possible intelligence, because it's critical in this post-September 11th age, that the executive branch has the best intelligence possible.

6 questions were asked about Saddam Hussein's underwear photo at the May 20, 2005 White House Press Briefing.

109 questions were asked (at the May 11, 2005 White House press briefing) about the plane incident in which a Cessna came within 10 miles of the White House. One intrepid reporter wanted to know whether there was a bathroom in the secure place that White House spokesman Scott McClellan was taken.

So, since May 1, 2005, when this story was broken in the UK, the White House Press has asked a sum total of two (2) questions about this issue at White House Press Briefings and Press Gaggles. Yes, that's the actual word used by the White House to describe officially what are, presumably, a step down from a Briefing. A gaggle is defined as a flock of geese -- how fitting. Notice how when geese get together they all sound the same?

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