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White House Press Secretary Clears Everything Up

Any doubts as to what the President thought he was supposed to be saying last week about what he believed he was doing two years ago should be cleared right up by this explanation.

JUNE 13, 2005

QUESTION: Could we go back to the press availability with Prime Minister Blair last week?

In response to a question, the president said about the Downing Street memo, "My conversation with the prime minister was how can we do this peacefully," and then later on he said, "And so we worked hard to see if we could figure out how to do this peacefully."

How to do "this" -- that refers to regime change or just to weapons inspection?

MCCLELLAN: Well, regime change was the policy of the previous administration. Remember, that goes back to the previous administration.

QUESTION: But the policy of the previous administration was...

MCCLELLAN: How to address the threat posed by Iraq.

QUESTION: Right, but not to do it using military force at that time. The decision by this administration was to use military force.

So when talking about...

MCCLELLAN: Not at that time.

QUESTION: When talking about this in this response, is the president referring to regime change or referring to inspection of weapons?

MCCLELLAN: The threat posed by the regime in Iraq.

[So, by "do this" the President meant "the threat posed by the regime in Iraq." Perhaps McClellan meant to say "fabricate the threat posed by the regime in Iraq." It makes more sense with a verb, I think - at least for those who haven't already gone cross-eyed trying to squeeze something meaningful out of this exchange.]

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Meanwhile at the State Department, a press briefing produced this heated exchange and penetrating interrogation:

QUESTION: Anything on the so-called second Downing Street memo which seems to show that our closest ally had some concerns about post-war planning, or lack thereof, in Iraq?

MCCORMACK: I think President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have talked about these issues in general. Secretary Rice and Foreign Secretary Straw have as well. And I don't think I have anything to add on that topic.

And this from the National Press Club (Somebody buy Cheney a newspaper! Hell, buy America a newspaper!)

MODERATOR: How do you respond to the Downing Street memo, the British document that says the Bush-Cheney administration was working with the United Kingdom to fix intelligence before the war, and that the president had made a decision to invade Iraq in July in 2002, long before he came to Congress and asked for authorization?

CHENEY: I haven't seen the so-called Downing Street memo.

I do know what transpired. And the record is there for anybody who wants to look at it, that we, in fact, decided -- the president made the decision to go to the United Nations and to ask, once again, that the United Nations accept responsibility for enforcing the resolutions that had been passed with respect to Iraq; that that resolution was passed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council in the fall of 2002, after the so-called Downing Street memo was written; that in fact, Saddam Hussein was given every opportunity to come into compliance with those Security Council resolutions, which he never did, and then subsequently to step down, which, of course, he didn't do.

CHENEY: The president ultimately resorted to military force when he felt we had no other option. But any suggestion that we did not exhaust all alternatives before we got to that point I think is inaccurate.

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