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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Who's Changing the Bar?

In the White House Daily Briefing yesterday (July 18, 2005), Terry Hunt of the Associated Press accused President Bush of raising the bar for the criteria for firing anyone in his administration who leaked classified information. Hunt asked White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan the following question:

"Scott, the President seemed to raise the bar and add a qualifier today when discussing whether or not anybody would be dismissed for -- in the leak of a CIA officer's name, in which he said that he would -- if someone is found to have committed a crime, they would no longer work in this administration. That's never been part of the standard before, why is that added now?" (Transcript: White House Daily Briefing, July 18)

After Mr. McClellan reiterated what the President said by stating, "If someone commits a crime, they're not going to be working any longer in this administration," Hunt asked a follow-up question:

"But you have said, though, that anyone involved in this would no longer be in this administration, you didn't say anybody who committed a crime. You had said, in September 2003, anyone involved in this would no longer be in the administration."

When McClellan stated that they had already been through these issues, Hunt interrupted by stating once again, "But we haven't talked about a crime."

Democratic leaders also began to immediately accuse the President of changing his story. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "This is about the credibility of the president of the United States. He said he would fire anyone who was involved in leaking this sensitive information. Now, he's changing his tune."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated, "The Bush White House's arrogant stonewalling and ever- changing statements are unacceptable."

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said, "Faced with a question about whether or not he will keep his promise to fire those involved in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA agent while we are at war, President Bush backed away from his initial pledge and lowered the ethics bar."

This misinformation can be traced all the way back to September 30, 2003. On that date, CBS News, as well as other major news agencies, reported that when asked about a possible leak from the White House, President Bush said, "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

It has been commonly reported since then that the President said that he would fire anyone in his administration who leaked classified information. But what did the President really say?

In a September 30, 2003 statement to reporters in Chicago, President Bush made the following statement:

"If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."

Notice the words "if the person has violated law." Those words have almost never been reported by the mainstream media. The words "violated law" mean "committed a crime."

At a June 10, 2004 Press Conference, the President was asked, "Do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name? And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?"

The President answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts."

Notice that the question referred to what the President had " said several months ago." Also remember that in the statement referred to, the President had specifically said, "if the person has violated law."

This leads to the President's statement on Monday that Terry Hunt was referring to in his question for Scott McClellan. On Monday, the President was asked, "Do you still intend to fire anyone found to be involved in the CIA leak case?"

The President responded, "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." Notice that this response is almost identical to the response that he gave on September 30, 2003.

The President has been absolutely consistent with his statements on this issue. It is the mainstream press and the Democratic leadership that have been changing the bar.


Anonymous Prodigal said...

I appreciate the comments at your site. But Bryan, I'm not sure your writing fits in with the Kokomo Perspective blog. You have too many facts and not enough hysterical accusations.

Keep up the good work!

2:44 PM  

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