Saturday, April 08, 2006

It wasn't me (yes it was...)

Via The Plank at TNR, a lawyer questioned the White House's long-standing refusal to answer any questions vaguely related to any "ongoing investigation." Here's a recent axample from one of Scott McLellan's recent press briefings:

SCOTT McLELLAN: Hang on, hang on. There's no way I can get into that without discussing issues relating to an ongoing legal proceeding. And I think you will appreciate that a policy has been established--I didn't establish it, but I'm obligated to adhere to that policy.

QUESTION: I'm not sure what you mean by that, "a policy has been established"?

Scott McClellan: About not discussing an ongoing legal proceeding.

QUESTION: About not discussing ongoing legal proceeding.

Scott McClellan: That's right.

QUESTION: Okay. But you understand the question I'm trying to get to?

QUESTION: Who established it?

QUESTION: Before we even deal with that--

Scott McClellan:--back to October 2003, and this has been in place for a long time by the White House.
While The Plank goes on to mock McClellan's obvious over-reliance on the "legal proceeding" dodge, they don't mention the circular logic of McLellan's argument. He first states that he is bound to the "ongoing legal proceeding" policy even though he did not establish it. Then who did? You'll see a little farther down that the policy was apparently established in "October 2003." So while it may not have been McClellan personally who established the policy (he didn't become press secretary until July of 2003), it was still the Bush White House, of which McClellan was a prominent communications aide.

Also, why should McLellan be bound to this policy? It's not a law by any means. He is now White House Press Secretary, so why shouldn't he be able to decide what the appropriate policy for answering questions? More importantly, why does he not feel the need to explain the rationale for the "ongoing investigation" dodge? This White House has used it to dodge questions about Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, and all the other Republicans under indictment.

To turn my fire to the press, why do they not feel more compelled to demand answers?


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