Monday, February 23, 2004

Some interesting bobbing 'n' weaving on Scottie Mac's part this morning...

Q On the 9/11 Commission, why -- you've indicated that the President has agreed to a private meeting with the co-chairs of the commission. Why is the President unwilling to meet with the entire commission? And why, at this point, is he unwilling to provide public testimony? What's his position on this?

MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. One, let me get to the first part of your question. The chairman and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission sent a letter requesting a private session with the President. The President agreed to the request. We believe that all the necessary information could be provided in that private meeting. In terms of the actual details, we are still discussing those details for that private session with the chairman and vice-chairman. That's where it stands at this point.

Q How is that going? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: It's ongoing; it's going.

Q It doesn't appear like he is willing to sit down to offer testimony to the entire commission, and I'm wondering why not?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President believes that all the necessary information they need can be provided in a private session.

Q Why --

Q Then why is he appearing?

Q Why -- hold on, Helen. What about -- why not a public session?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that he feels that everything can be provided in that private meeting, that's why.

Q Right, but they apparently feel differently, so --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm not sure -- speaking for the entire commission, but the chairman and vice chairman requested the private meeting. And that's what we're moving forward on discussing with them right now.

Q Would it be inappropriate, in your view, in the President's view, for him to offer testimony under oath to this commission?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, the President will be pleased to talk to them in a private session. And that's where it stands right now.

Q So you're not answering the oath question?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q You're not -- does he think it's inappropriate to be under oath for something like this?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is going to share with them what information he knows, and he's pleased to do it.

Q So he'll do it under oath, if necessary?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if that's necessary. I think he can accomplish it all in private meeting, and provide the commission the necessary information in that format.

Q But he's -- but he's against anything being made public?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't know that I said that. They will obviously have a private meeting with him and have an opportunity to discuss with the President information that is relevant to their work.

Q Can they share that testimony then?

MR. McCLELLAN: And we're working all the details. I don't know the specifics, David, of all the details that are involved in this. Obviously, we still are able -- we're still working to discuss those details with them. But, certainly, this is information that they would use in preparing their report to the American people. So I expect that they would share information.

So the gist seems to be that Bush is unwilling to testify in public before the whole commission, and unwilling to testify under oath, but is perfectly happy to sit down in private with the commission co-chairs in a meeting where the ground rules (and, presumably, what can and can't be asked) have been negotiated beforehand.

That Li'l Bushie, always going out of his way to be co-operative...

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