A Bush-Blair press conference we'd like to see

If there's nothing new to report on a troop withdrawal, how about addressing these questions?

Published May 25, 2006 6:07PM (EDT)

As a jury returns in verdicts in Houston, the Senate votes on immigration reform and Washington awaits word -- any word -- from Patrick Fitzgerald, George W. Bush and Tony Blair are meeting today to talk about the way forward in Iraq. They'll go before the cameras for a joint press conference at 7:30 p.m. EDT, but White House press secretary Tony Snow says not to expect much talk of a troop withdrawal.

"I don't think you're going to get any kind of specific prediction of troop withdrawals," Snow said Wednesday. "I think you're going to get a restatement of the general principles under which coalition troops stay or go."

We'll be looking forward to that, but we'd be a little more interested in the proceedings tonight if we thought Bush would be asked -- let alone that he'd answer -- questions like these:

Do you understand what's happening in Iraq? In a press appearance earlier this week, the president said that "the main weapon of the enemy" in Iraq is "the capacity to destroy innocent life with a suicider." But as the Washington Post's Dan Froomkin explains, suicide bombings haven't been the "main weapon" in Iraq for quite some time now. Roadside bombs, snipers and mortar fire pose a greater danger to U.S. troops, Froomkin explains, while the greatest threat facing Iraqi civilians comes from "paramilitary forces committing widespread sectarian murder, unimpeded by anyone in authority."

Who killed the Justice Department's investigation into your warrantless spying program? Earlier this month, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility said it was calling off its investigation into the role department lawyers played in approving the NSA wiretap program. The OPR said its requests for the security clearances needed for the investigation "had been denied," but it didn't say by whom. In a new report for the National Journal, Murray Waas and Shane Harris explain that all of the documents the investigators wanted to examine were already in the possession of the Justice Department. Waas and Harris lay out the case for believing that Alberto Gonzales himself shut down the probe.

Have you fired anyone for leaking Valerie Plame's identity yet? We know the answer to this one, but it's always fun to ask. At a press conference on June 10, 2004, Bush said he'd fire anyone who leaked Plame's name to the press. But he didn't fire Scooter Libby -- Cheney's chief of staff quit once he was indicted -- and he hasn't fired Karl Rove.

What was Dick Cheney's role in the Plame leak? Patrick Fitzgerald says that Libby leaked Plame's identity. Fitzgerald says that Cheney knew, before the leak, that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. And Fitzgerald says that Cheney and Libby talked -- apparently repeatedly -- about the way in which the White House would respond to Wilson's July 6, 2003, New York Times Op-Ed. The dots are awfully close together; perhaps the president could help us connect them.

And what's the truth about Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Porter Goss, Claude Allen, Alphonso Jackson, the NSA database and those mobile weapons labs that weren't? Oh, right, and one more thing: Why did we invade Iraq?

By Tim Grieve

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

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