Straight out of gag(gle)ville -- Geneva Conventions, Cheney on al Qaida, Plame, Dick Clarke, a movable feast -- from this morning ...
Q Why do you say you've made <$NoAd$>it clear on Geneva Conventions when it's -- obviously, they've been violated ever since we went into Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib?
Q And Guantanamo and everywhere else.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what specifically you're referring to, everywhere else.
Q I'm saying that you people have never said definitively that you are obeying the Geneva Conventions.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, no, we made it very clear when it comes to Iraq that the Geneva Convention did apply.
Q Consistent with, you say, but --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not in Iraq. In Iraq we made it very clear the Geneva Convention applies.
Q Can I ask about Vice President Cheney, because yesterday he repeated what is a very controversial claim. He said that Saddam Hussein had long-established ties with al Qaeda. Does the President believe that Saddam Hussein had long-established ties with al Qaeda?
MR. McCLELLAN: We certainly talked about the ties with terrorism between the -- between the regime that was removed from power, and we talked about those ties prior to the decision to remove that regime from power. So that was well-documented. Secretary Powell went before the United Nations and talked about some of those ties to terrorism, as well. And Zarqawi is certainly a senior al Qaeda associate who was in Iraq prior to the decision to go in and remove the regime from power.
Q There's also al Qaeda in the United States. That does not mean the United States is cooperating with those members of al Qaeda. Just by the presence of someone does not mean there's a cooperation.
MR. McCLELLAN: But, remember, we're talking about an oppressive regime that was in power in Iraq that exercised control over that country. And go back and look at what we documented, Norah. We documented all this, and I think that's what the Vice President was referring to.
Q So today you're saying the President does agree there were long --
MR. McCLELLAN: We stand by what we've said previously, in terms of the regime's ties to terrorism, yes. And I think that's what the Vice President was referring to.
Q The President said there were no ties in the run up to the war.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, that's a mischaracterization. There were clear ties to terrorism between the regime --
Q He said there were no ties with al Qaeda.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- certainly supporting suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Q Are you repudiating what the President said?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think you're talking about September 11th.
Q Has the President been asked to answer questions before the CIA leak investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have any update at this point. But those are the types of questions that you need to direct to the prosecutors who are overseeing that investigation. And I'll see if there's any further update beyond what we said previously.
Q Why can't you tell us? I mean, he's the President of the United States. You aren't going to tell us if he's been questioned in a criminal investigation>
MR. McCLELLAN: I just said I don't have any update from where he -- what he previously responded to, Terry.
Q Right, but we'd like it from you, please.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I'll see what else I can find out. But remember what we've made clear from the very beginning. There's an ongoing investigation right now. We want to do everything we can to help that investigation conclude successfully and get to the bottom of this. And in that spirit, that's why we've referred questions like that to the investigators, because if they feel it will help move their case forward, I'm sure that they will discuss that information with you. But I will -- but I'll go back and just check from our end to see what else I can find out.
Q It's an historic event. Not many Presidents --
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood. No, understood, but I have to balance that with the ongoing investigation that's underway.
Q Has he retained his lawyer yet, regarding this?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's what I said. I don't have any update from what he previous said. Let me look into things.
Q Scott, Richard Clarke says that in the wake of his book, NSC lawyers were used to do opposition research against him, that they contacted his former colleagues to -- quote -- "dig up dirt" on him. Is that accurate? And is it an inappropriate --
MR. McCLELLAN: Arash, I think we've been through this issue and I don't think there's anything to add to what we've previously said.
So many questions ...