Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Today on Holden's Obsession with the Gaggle

Little Scottie tries to explain why we attacked the wrong country:

Q I just have one other question about Iran and 9/11. The President said earlier that the government is still investigating whether there is a connection we don't know about between Iran and 9/11. I just want to -- related to that, how you would respond to criticism that will likely come from Democrats and others, who say that your very aggressive posture toward Iraq may have been misplaced, and that given the -- if there was an actual connection, there may have even been influences or a role on the margins of 9/11 by Iran that this administration's posture toward Iraq was, frankly, misdirected in the war on terror?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think what the President said was, he repeated what the Acting Director said yesterday on one of the Sunday shows, when he said that there's no evidence that there was any official involvement between Iran and the September 11th attacks. And the commission will be coming out with their report later this week. Apparently they addressed this issue in the report. We want to see what they know about that issue; apparently it's something that's evolved over time.

[Two paragrphs of Scottie Speech edited for sanity.]

Q I asked you, Scott, whether the President spent too much time, money, effort, political capital confronting Saddam Hussein in Iraq and not enough confronting Iran?

MR. McCLELLAN: Remember, Iraq was a unique situation. We talked about that from early on. Iraq was a country that had invaded its neighbors, had used weapons of mass destruction, had a 12-year history of defying the international community. It was a threat, I think everybody recognized that it was a threat, and we have removed that threat. 


Q Okay. The President, today on Iran, talked about a link between Iran and al Qaeda. We now know that there was a connection, at least, between Iran and the 9/11 hijackers. He talked about the fact that they have -- that we think they have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear material. So that sounds eerily similar to Iraq. So why -- can you explain --

MR. McCLELLAN: What was the connection? What was the relationship?

Q Which one?

MR. McCLELLAN: Between Iran and al Qaeda.

Q That they passed through.

MR. McCLELLAN: And there were ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, where they had contacts going back over the last decade.

Q So my question is, many people are asking, why is it that the President did focus on Iraq, and perhaps -- the way he did, and perhaps not on Iran?

MR. McCLELLAN: That wouldn't be an accurate way, I think, to describe it, because he has focused on Iran. It has been a high priority for this administration from very early on. As I said, you confront different threats in different ways. There are different strategies for confronting different threats. But what this President is doing is confronting those threats. We're not letting them build and fully materialize. September 11th taught us that we had to confront those threats before that happens. That's why he's been working with the international community to get Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons and to abide by the international obligations Iran agreed to. That's why we are pressing Iran to turn over those al Qaeda members in their country to their country of origin. That's why we are continuing to urge the unelected few in Iran to heed the aspirations of the Iranian people.