it’s always amusing, after a story breaks and the administration is scrambing, to cruise to the white house site and the archive of press briefings. it’s amazing that scott mclellan hasn’t had a heart attack or resigned yet. his is one of the most thankless jobs in washington, justifying the behavior of people who collectively are the most deceitful, corrupt, arrogant, power-deluded group of leaders in modern politics. day after day, grotesque twists and perversions of law, arcane technicalities, and al qaeda spins from the podium at those press briefings. it’s a clear pattern of distraction, deception, denial, and insults to intelligence. scott mclellan seems to have a conscience, or at least is more likeable perhaps than rumsfeld. it could be mistaken empathy, but i sense mclellan’s remorse or a sadness at having to perform his task. they all use the same lexicon, but it often seems that scott is embarrassed by trotting out old chestnuts like “that is flat out wrong” when the usage is flat out wrong. ruthless old cutthroats like cheney and rumsfeld have become so inured to the practice of lying and bullying that they come across as combative and unsympathetic.
here are some quotes from yesterday’s press conference that don’t necessarily illustrate my point (you really have to watch to feel scotty’s discomfort). the logic, or lack therof, is typical. the drawing of non-existent distinctions, while slamming democrats. the attempt to justify past unethical behavior by repeatedly declaring how it is necessary in times of war. the justification for bush “disclosing” the national intelligence estimates is a particularly amusing breach of reason. 1). he disclosed the information because there was a lot of debate going on in the run up to the iraq war. 2). the administration was, in the public interest, vigorously countering the misinformation being disseminated by people opposed to the war. 3). it turns out that the misinformation was, in fact, correct, and now the administration is vigorously pursuing ways to not vigorously counter misinformation in the future. (yes i exaggerated and yes i am being facetious…but it’s not far off).
MR. McCLELLAN: Let’s talk about the distinction. There is a difference between leaking classified information that could compromise sources and methods, which could be harmful to our nation’s security. The terrorist surveillance program is a prime example. There was an unauthorized disclosure of this vital program that is helping to prevent attacks and save American lives. This is a program that is aimed at intercepting international communications involving known al Qaeda members or suspected al Qaeda affiliates. And it is vital to our nation’s interest.
General Hayden, the number-two man in our intelligence community, said its disclosure is harmful to our nation’s security. So there is a clear distinction here. Democrats refuse to recognize that distinction. That is engaging in crass politics.
On the issue of the National Intelligence Estimate, that is something that was in the public interest that it be disclosed because there is a lot of debate going on. And we will vigorously set the record straight when people are putting out misinformation or trying to suggest things that simply are not true. […..]
MR. McCLELLAN: If it’s in the public interest, it’s another matter. And the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified because it was in the public interest to provide portions of that National Intelligence Estimate to the American people. As I said, there were people that were out there making irresponsible accusations that intelligence was manipulated or that intelligence was misused. There has been no evidence to back that up whatsoever.
You’re talking about information that was declassified and provided to the American people because it was in the public interest that they have that information so they could see what the facts were. And the facts were that this was the collective judgment of the intelligence community.
Now, the intelligence was wrong, and that’s why we put in place a bipartisan commission, independent commission to go and look at the intelligence, and they made recommendations about how we could improve our intelligence-gathering.