Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I'm staggered. I really am. As if it wasn't enough for the Bush administration to have one poet in the guide of Donald Rumsfeld, here's another, previously overlooked individual.

Step forward, press officer Scott McClellan. Truly, this man deserves his own anthology too. Observe the subtle interplay between a White House correspondent and McClellan over the difference between what are facts and what are not.

Admittedly, it isn't all his own work. I must concede the nameless journalist does bring him forward towards sheer brilliance:

"MR. McCLELLAN: David, you're just ignoring the facts. You're not looking at what Director Tenet said. You're not looking at what Secretary Powell said before the United Nations.

Q Scott, do you really think people buy this?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I think that you can seek to drive a wedge, but there is no wedge there between what the September 11th Commission said and what the facts --

Q Between what the facts are and what the reality is.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and what the facts are. You're talking about impressions; I'm talking about facts."

And the following:

"MR. McCLELLAN: What do you want to dispute that Secretary Powell said and Director Tenet said? I mean, let's talk about the facts, because those were the facts that we outlined before making the decision to go in and remove that regime from power. And so let's talk about those facts.

Q Have they been borne out by these --

MR. McCLELLAN: It's nice to talk about these impressions and the way people are trying to spin certain things, but let's talk about the facts.

Q I'm looking for facts.

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's not ignore those facts. Well, the facts were before the United Nations, through Secretary Powell's statement, and they were before Congress, through Director Tenet's testimony.

Q What have we learned since then, from all this intelligence?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, obviously you learn more post the decision to go into Iraq, and you learn more as you get information from those detainees. And I'm sure that Director Tenet can talk to you about those issues and give you a read on that. That's a very general question you're asking me right here, right now.

Q Is there anything else that goes to the notion of an al Qaeda-Iraq alliance?

MR. McCLELLAN: But if you go back and look at what we outlined, and the facts, we stand by that."

Alternately, I suppose another way of tackling this heady material is to perform it the theatre in the same way as Nicholas Kent put on the Hutton inquiry.

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