Q One more, I have one more. The Red Cross says, in its report of February, 2004, now public, “Since the beginning of the conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross has regularly brought its concerns about the abuse of prisoners to the attention of coalition forces.” The observations in this report are consistent with those made out earlier, several occasions orally and in writing to coalition forces. When did the President, or anyone in the White House, first learn that the Red Cross, for more than a year, was documenting abuse of prisoners in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: We’re aware of these issues, because the coalition and our military works very closely with the International Red Cross on these issues. And I would point out that you might want to talk to the Pentagon about some of these matters, because we believe in cooperating closely with the Red Cross. And the military has worked to address some of the issues that they raised. And they can probably brief you on some of those issues that they have worked to address.
“Talk to the Pentagon” seems to be the standard answer on these questions. You’d think that after a couple o’ weeks, the White House would figure out that they are being looked to for answers - but no, holding true to form, they won’t answer the question.
Q They raised this from March through November of 2003, they said, regularly.
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood.
Translation: “Yeah so what’s your point?”
Q Did their warnings, did their documentation of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners reach this building, reach the White House?
MR. McCLELLAN: It’s important that we work to address concerns like that. And I think the Pentagon can brief you about specifics about how we’ve worked to address some of those issues. We believe in working closely with the Red Cross on these matters. Detainee treatment is something that we always are looking at and talking about. It’s important that we make sure we adhere to high standards of conduct; that we are the United States of America and we stand for rule of law and we stand for justice and we stand for treating everyone with dignity and respect. And we believe in treating prisoners humanely. And so those issues are things that are constantly discussed, Terry.
“Talk to the Pentagon, talk to the Pentagon” - Geez, he’s like a fucking parrot.
What they (the White House gang) do not seem to realize is that WE READ THIS STUFF and when we see these “answers” we’re left to assume only the worst possible scenarios.
Based on McClellan’s “answers” I must assume that the White House knew about the Red Cross reports and chose to ignore them. What else can I assume? They don’t deny it, they don’t acknowledge it - they just deflect it.
Q So the White House was aware that Iraqi prisoners were being abused before January of 2004?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, now, I didn’t use those terms. I said we’re aware of some of the issues that the Red Cross raised, and we’ve been working to address those issues. You can talk to the Pentagon about some of the ways they’ve worked to address those issues.
Of course you didn’t use those terms - you used NO TERMS at all!
Go ahead, Dana.
Translation: “Okay - I’m tired of this - next topic.
I’m getting thoroughly pissed about the fact that the White House press corp allows this bullshit to happen day after day - I believe that in a “democratic” society it is news when the leaders repeatedly refuse to answer simple questions. Now to be fair the questions may be simple and the answers extremely complex but that’s not the point. Day after day the questions are asked and the answers never come - that’s news.
Q Right. After he saw them, in talking to him, does he seem more or less likely to want to get them out, get out ahead of it, and release them to the public?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, again, Dana, those are issues that the Pentagon is working to address. And we’re going to stay in close contact with them.
Q But he’s the President. He has to have an opinion on this, particularly since you’ve described them as disturbing and disgusting.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he appreciates the issues that the Pentagon has to address, and the Pentagon is working to address those issues.
Q You said, quite clear, that there are issues of compromising criminal investigation. If those issues can be addressed, is the President’s position that he wants these photographs released?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going to try to speculate on that. You also –
Q It’s not speculation.
MR. McCLELLAN: You also –
Q Is his basic –
MR. McCLELLAN: You also –
Q Is his basic position that they should be released if these other concerns can be addressed?
MR. McCLELLAN: You have privacy issues. You have ongoing criminal investigations. And they have to look to address those issues. They are working to look at those issues. And working with Congress to make sure that Congress can play their proper oversight role in these matters. And we will continue to stay in close contact with the Pentagon on these matters.
Q But he hasn’t yet decided whether in principle he thinks that they ought to be recessed?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes that the process on the investigation is moving forward, as they have been, should be an open and transparent process. He’s made his views very clear on that. But he recognizes the importance of making sure that those individuals who committed these shameful and appalling acts are held accountable. And we don’t want to do anything that would interfere with that.
Q But what concerns us, though, is as a general principle, should pictures like this be released to the public so that people have a right to make up their own mind about it? Understanding that there are side issues that need to be resolved, if those issues are resolved, is it the White House’s opinion –
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going to play –
Q – is it the President’s opinion, that in principle, these ought to be released?
MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not going to play the “what if.” We have to look at the reality of this, and look at these issues in the context of ongoing criminal investigations. That’s what the Pentagon is working to do, and they’re working to address those matters.
If I were a White House reporter I believe I’d file this:
White House Has No Opinion
White House, May 11, 2004: White House no opinion on anything other than the status of people’s souls based on the direction in which they pray.
The White House today refused to express any opinion on any matter of import. All queries are being referred to underlings and professional obfuscators.