The questions McClellan never answered

Follow-ups? Yeah, we've got a few.


Tim Grieve
April 19, 2006 10:14PM (UTC)

White House press secretary Scott McClellan is on his way out the door, but there are more than a few questions we'd still like to ask him. Among them:

1. On Sept. 29, 2003, you said that "the president knows" that Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of Valerie Plame. When you were asked how Bush "knew," you said: "I'm not going to get into conversations that the president has with advisors or staff or anything of that nature; that's not my practice." We subsequently learned that Rove had leaked Plame's identity to both Robert Novak and Matthew Cooper. What was your basis for saying that the president knew that Rove wasn't involved? Did the president ever ask Rove about his involvement? Did Rove lie to the president about his involvement? Did the president lie to you? Or did you lie to the American public?

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2. On Oct. 10, 2003, you said that you had spoken with Rove and Scooter Libby about the Plame leak, and you said that they had "assured" you that "they were not involved in this." As it turns out, both men were deeply involved. Had both men lied to you about their involvement, or did you lie to the American public? If they lied to you, when did you first learn the truth? And if you lied to the American people -- and, as a result, helped keep alive a false account of history up to and through the 2004 presidential election -- do you owe the public an apology now?

3. On Oct. 31, 2005, a reporter began a question by saying, "We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations." A videotape of the press conference shows you interjecting and saying, "That's accurate." But in the White House transcript of the press briefing, you're quoted as saying, "I don't think that's accurate." Why were your words altered in the transcript? Who made the decision to ask the Federal News Service and Congressional Quarterly to change their transcripts? Did you support that decision? Did you really think it would work?

4. On July 18, 2003, you said that portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq had been "officially declassified today." But after Patrick Fitzgerald revealed that Scooter Libby has testified that the president, through the vice president, authorized him to leak portions of the NIE prior to Libby's July 8, 2003, meeting with Judy Miller, you refused to say when the NIE was actually declassified, claiming that doing so would involve commenting on an "ongoing legal proceeding." Did the president declassify the NIE before he authorized Libby to leak it, or did the president authorize the leak of information that was still classified at the time? And while we're on this subject, what ever happened to your Oct. 6, 2003, claim that anyone "responsible for the leaking of classified information" would "no longer work in this administration"?

5. On April 12, 2006, and April 13, 2006, you dodged questions about whether Bush knew, when he was asserting unequivocally that the United States had discovered mobile weapons labs in Iraq, that a team of experts dispatched by the Defense Intelligence Agency had already concluded that the trailers in question weren't labs at all. The vice president had made similar claims about the labs-that-weren't, and you dodged questions about those, too. What did the president know about the trailers, and when did he know it? What did the vice president know, and when did he know it?


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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