Q Why is Fallujah and Najaf under siege? Why are they – and is the President willing to see them go into a Waco or Guernica?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, where are you getting that from, Helen?
Q That if they are under siege, and we decide to go in, and there is that kind of resistance, there will be tremendous bloodshed.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, that is a highly speculative characterization that you are making there.
Q Well, we do have them under siege, both towns, don’t we?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I would not describe it that way. First of all, we have been working very closely with Iraqi officials in those areas to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. The coalition has been working to partner with Iraqi security forces to improve the security situation. There are a lot of developments going on, on the ground. Certainly, if coalition forces are fired upon, namely our Marines, in the case of Fallujah, they will defend themselves.
Now there are some thugs and terrorists that continue to exist in areas of Fallujah.
Q – maybe they’re just Iraqis.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, all you have to have to do is look at the types of attacks that they carried out on innocent Americans recently to know that these are thugs and terrorists. They have no regard for human life.
Q Are we doing the same thing?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will not let them prevail. However, as I said, we are working to improve the security situation there. We’re working with Iraqi leaders. You’re seeing a partnering with Iraqi security forces to begin patrols in Fallujah and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. They’ve been working with civilian leaders there. But there is a difference between civilian leaders and thugs and terrorists who seek to derail the transition to democracy for the Iraqi people. And they have no place in Iraq.
Q Maybe they’re defending their own country against an occupation.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we have liberated the Iraqi people, and we’re moving forward to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people, so that they can realize a free and peaceful future. As I said, this is critical to winning the war on terrorism. There are thugs and terrorists who are trying to carry out innocent attacks on innocent men, women and children. Look at what they’ve done, look at the attacks they’ve carried out that have led to the deaths of school children. Look at the attacks that they have carried out that have led to the deaths of their fellow Iraqi citizens.
Q And we haven’t we killed any civilians? Have we killed any civilians?
MR. McCLELLAN: The United States military and coalition forces go out of their way to make sure that civilians are not targeted and not killed.
Q Have we killed any?
MR. McCLELLAN: We target those who seek to carry out their evil acts and seek to return to the oppressive regime of the past – and that’s not going to happen.
Mr. McClellan is very good at what he does - which is obviously to not answer anything. If you read this excerpt carefully you’ll note that he’s slyly linking the current resistance in Iraq with al Qaeda (or at least international terrorists).
If the administration was being honest and practicing a modicum of introspection they’d have answers to questions like “Maybe they’re defending their own country” but the impression is that they truly believe the crap they’re trying to feed us - it’s as if the very idea that we’re “invaders” is foreign.
Sure it can be argued that such thoughts would be a sign of weakness, of lack of resolve but in reality it would show that they’re real leaders with real ideas and actually contemplate what they’re doing.
Q As of July 1st, who will hold the ultimate decision-making authority in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sovereignty will be transferred to the Iraqi people. You have to separate out the political side and the security side –
Q Right, but you said that their authority will be limited.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s at the wishes of the Iraqi people. They will oversee the day-to-day responsibilities, and they will work to transition or oversee efforts during the transition to move toward the elections to be held in January of 2005.
Q Who will be the ultimate authority? If they make a decision that you don’t like –
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the helicopter is landing and I’m traveling with the President. I would be glad to stay, and I will be here tomorrow if you want to follow up on this. Or this afternoon.
Unprecedented - indeed.