Monday, October 24, 2005

Avoiding Plame

In anticipation of indictments this week, here are previous quotes and denials that came from the Whitehouse:

March 30, 2003 – Scott McClellan
“I’m saying no one was certainly given any authority to do anything of that nature, and I’ve seen no evidence to suggest there’s any truth to it.”

September 16, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Wilson now believes that the person who did this was Karl Rove…Did Karl Rove tell that --

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard that. That's just totally ridiculous. But we've already addressed this issue. If I could find out who anonymous people were, I would. I just said, it's totally ridiculous.

Q But did Karl Rove do it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said, it's totally ridiculous.

September 29, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q All right. Let me just follow up. You said this morning, "The President knows" that Karl Rove wasn't involved. How does he know that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion, backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it's public knowledge. I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove --

Q But how does --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into conversations that the President has with advisors or staff or anything of that nature; that's not my practice.

Q But the President has a factual basis for knowing that Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: I said it publicly. I said that --

Q But I'm not asking what you said, I'm asking if the President has a factual basis for saying -- for your statement that he knows Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: He's aware of what I've said, that there is simply no truth to that suggestion. And I have spoken with Karl about it.

Q Does he know whether or not the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby --

MR. McCLELLAN: If you have any specific information to bring to my attention -- like I said, there has been nothing that's been brought to our attention. You asked me earlier if we were looking into it, there is nothing that's been brought to our attention beyond the media reports. But if someone did something like this, it needs to be looked at by the Department of Justice, they're the appropriate agency charged with looking into matters like this –

Q Well, obviously, someone contacted Karl Rove. There was some effort to knock down a specific allegation here. So I'm wondering, why not contact others? Were others contacted in the -- among the President's senior advisors?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there was a specific allegation leveled -- I saw it has now since been backed away from -- about Karl Rove. And that's why I responded to that question. But I think we could go down the White House directory of every single staff member and play that game. I'm not going to do that. What I've made clear is that if anybody has information relating to this, they need to report it to the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice should pursue it to the fullest. It is a serious matter. But I'm not going to go down a list of every single staffer in the White House, when there's not specific information that has been brought to my attention to suggest --

Q -- is it inappropriate in your view? Or is it just too diffuse, it's too difficult? I don't understand exactly what the reason is that you wouldn't expand the effort from Karl Rove to, perhaps, another dozen or so people who might have been knowledgeable.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we've got important work to do here in Washington, D.C. for the people of this nation. And the President will continue to focus on the priorities we are pursuing: the war on terrorism, strengthening the economy. There are a number of important priorities we are focused on. There are a lot of anonymous media reports that happen all the time. And it's not our practice to go and try to chase down anonymous sources every time there's a report in the media. If there's specific information that comes to our attention, that's another matter. But there has not been any information beyond what we've seen in just anonymous media reporting to suggest that there was White House involvement.

Q You said that the President knows that Karl Rove was not involved, and you specifically have spoken to Karl Rove and gotten those assurances. By those statements, you've implied that the President has not talked to Karl Rove specifically about this.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said that --

Q Is that a correct inference, or did we --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've already answered this question, when Terry asked it earlier, and I said that it's not my habit to get into conversations the President has with staff or with advisors. I'm not going to get into those conversations.

Q So he has --

MR. McCLELLAN: I've made it clear that it simply is not true, and I'm speaking on behalf of the White House when I say that.

September 29, 2003 – Karl Rove
ABC News producer Andrea Owen: "Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?"

Rove: "No."

October 7, 2003 – George W. Bush
Well, the investigators will ask our staff about what people did or did not do. This is a town of -- where a lot of people leak. And I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information. And I want to know, I want to know the truth. I want to see to it that the truth prevail. And I hope we can get this investigation done in a thorough way, as quickly as possible.

You tell me, how many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed? Probably none. I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out.

October 7, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Scott, you have said that you, personally, went to Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliot Abrams to ask them if they were the leakers. Is that what happened? Why did you do that, and can you describe the conversations you had with them? What was the question you asked?

MR. McCLELLAN: Unfortunately, in Washington, D.C., at a time like this, there are a lot of rumors and innuendo. There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made. And that's exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They're good individuals, they're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did.

Q So you're saying -- you're saying categorically those three individuals were not the leakers or did not authorize the leaks; is that what you're saying?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct. I've spoken with them.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, no. Let me answer what the President has said. I speak for the President and I'll talk to you about what he wants. And what he wants is to get to the bottom of this matter, the sooner the better. That's why we are doing everything we can to assist the Justice Department investigators in their investigation, and we will continue to do that.

Q You speak for the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear --

Q -- you asked these individuals. Did the President ask you to ask those individuals whether they were the leaker?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President made it very clear that we should cooperate fully with the Department of Justice. And in that, keeping with that direction, I am making sure that we are doing that, from my standpoint. And I think part of cooperating fully is looking into these unsubstantiated accusations that were made to make it clear to everybody that those individuals were not involved.

Q During the pool spray, the President seemed to contradict himself just a little bit. He said, I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. And then later, he said, but we'll find out.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we talked a little bit about this earlier today in this room, as well. Obviously, it is difficult to find out who anonymous sources are. We all know that that oftentimes doesn't happen. But the President was saying that we will do everything we can to get to the bottom of this.

MR. McCLELLAN: Back in August, at a partisan forum in Seattle, he said, "It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog marched out of the White House in handcuffs." This was back in August in Seattle.

Let me also remind you, he later backtracked from those remarks and went on to say, and this is from the Wall Street Journal on October 1st, "I freely admit I got carried away. If I left the impression that Karl Rove was the leaker or approver of the leak, I didn't intend to." And then he went on to say that "Mr. Rove's name is a name I am prepared to use as a metaphor for the office." So this is -- so he has made previous statements to that effect, and then later backtracked from those statements.

I think it's very important to understand that there is a Washington, D.C. game of rumor and innuendo. It's the ugly side of Washington, D.C. And I'm not going to play that game, and you shouldn't read anything into that. But let's make very clear that the subject of this investigation is whether someone leaked classified information. And there are a lot of names being floated, and a lot of unsubstantiated accusations being leveled against good people. And, unfortunately, that's what happens when -- in times like this in Washington, D.C. The ugly side comes out.

No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the President of the United States. If someone leaked classified information, the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates, that's not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business.

October 10, 2003 – Scott McClellan
Q Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Q Can I follow up on that?

Q They were not involved in what?

MR. McCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information.

Q Did you undertake that on your own volition, or were you instructed to go to these --

MR. McCLELLAN: I spoke to those individuals myself.

February 11, 2004 – George W. Bush
Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And 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.

And so I welcome the investigation. I -- I'm absolutely confident that the Justice Department will do a very good job. There's a special division of career Justice Department officials who are tasked with doing this kind of work; they have done this kind of work before in Washington this year. I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative.
I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.

Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.

And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there's all kinds of allegations. You've heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.

And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.

June 10, 2004 – George W. Bush
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, 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?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

Q My final point would be -- or question would be, has Vice President Cheney assured you --

THE PRESIDENT: It's up to the --

Q -- subsequent to his conversations with them, that nobody --

THE PRESIDENT: I haven't talked to the Vice President about this matter, and I suggest -- recently -- and I suggest you talk to the U.S. Attorney about that.


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