May 28, 2005

The Absolute Disposal of Truth and Disclosure

See here, for this. Scott McClellan attempts to evade a request to clarify a previous statement that the United States is in Afghanistan and Iraq 'by invitation' by saying he meant 'the invitation of the current governments' - conveniently forgetting how those governments came to be. When asked bluntly for a simple fact of history, to wit: "Did we invade Iraq?" McClellan refuses to answer and goes on to another questioner.

I'm not going to claim that this question was posed in a friendly manner (was it Helen Thomas? The transcript isn't entirely clear). However, that's not the point. McClellan is the spokesperson for the White House. His job is to answer questions, hostile and otherwise. Further down the transcript, he's asked about the recent FOIA FBI memo which shows that in fact there was a detainee at Guantanamo who claimd that U.S. guards treated him badly and flushed the Koran down a toilet in his sight. McClellan, after first checking that "This is a detainee, right?" comes back with (I shit you not) "There have been allegations made by detainees. We know that members of al Qaeda are trained to mislead and to provide false reports. We know that's one of their tactics that they use. And so I think you have to keep that in mind, as well."

In other words, he's answering the question by claiming that:

  • The detainee in question (who he couldn't recall was even a detainee) is, in fact, a member of al-Qaeda
  • That in fact there was no such action, or that at the very least this complaint from this detainee should be laid down to Al-Qaeda trained 'misinformation.'
Think about that.

He doesn't even know who this person is at the start of the question. However, he's quite comfortable telling us that the reason this detainee complained of bad treatment (it should be noted that this detainee is also reported to have said, according to the questioner, that he 'had nothing against the United States') is because the complaint is an Al-Qaeda 'misinformation' tactic.

This on the strength of the fact that he 'knows the Department of Defense has said publicly that they have found nothing to substantiate any allegations.' But it's not over. Immediately following that, he reverses course and claims that in fact this is an entirely different matter:

Q: Are you saying that there is no substantiation of any Koran desecration at all at Bagram or Guantanamo Bay?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you look back, I think the Department of Defense briefed last week, and they talked about the specific allegation that you're bringing up, and they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegation. In terms of the handling of the Koran, that's a different matter, and they have talked about that, so you might want to look back at what they've said.

Huh? First he was telling us that this story was because of Al-Qaeda's liking for misinformation tactics, and that it was likely so because the DoD 'hasn't been able to substantiate' any such claim (note carefully that this would require them to actually try to find evidence either way - whether that's in their best interests is left as an exercise for the reader). Now, all of a sudden, the Koran is a 'different matter' and everything he doubletalked earlier no longer applies to that answer. In other words, he just told us that despite his misdirective flailing, he didn't answer the question at all.

Next line?

[Mr. MCCLELLAN]: Go ahead, Goyal.

Q I have two questions, one on the goodwill visit of the First Lady. It looked like from the visit that she's representing well the United States and the President. She's very charming and friendly and outgoing. My question is here that there's an old saying there's always a great woman behind a successful man. How the President take this?

And they're off to the races talking about Mrs. Bush and how charming and friendly she is.

I'm going to go puke now.

Posted by jbz at May 28, 2005 2:40 AM | TrackBack

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