Monday, March 06, 2006

Secretary Says No Reflection That We Don't Know What's Going On

More Bush Troubles As Rice Backtracks, Corrects Comments, Blames Lincoln Group

Meant To Say Was Surprised Levees Breached, Not By Hamas Election Victory; Backs Pace That There's No Civil War

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a brief press conference this morning, said she want to correct comments made recently and that the misspeak error "was no reflection that we are detached or don't know what's going on around here."

"What I meant to say was that I agree with President Bush, that no one had any expectations that the levees in New Orleans would breach. We just didn't see that coming."

Rice: "Underestimated Resentment … Nobody Saw It Coming"

After a State Department commissioned poll came to light, taken in early January, before the Palestinian elections, predicting the sweeping victory by the militant Islamic group Hamas, Secretary Rice said, on January 29th, flying to London for a European Union meeting, said that "I don't know anyone who wasn't caught off guard by its very strong showing. I think what was probably underestimated was the depth of resentment of the last, really, decade of corruption and the old guard."

Rice later added that she had directed officials at the State Department to examine "why nobody saw it coming ... because it does say something about perhaps not having had a good enough pulse on the Palestinian population."

The early January poll taken by the State Department showed that the Palestinian Authority's corruption was the leading issue among Palestinian voters, and that 52-percent believed that Hamas was more qualified.

"The Secretary may have been experience some Scooter Libby fatigue," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, referring to the defense strategy for Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, for his pending trial of lying to federal investigators and the grand jury in the CIA Leak Case.

"I was not surprised, stumped or in any way baffled by the Palestinian election results," said Rice, in a brief statement. "We were aware of it, and the ramifications and there is nothing further from the truth otherwise. My statement was no reflection that we are detached or don't know what's going on around here."

Rice left the conference, leaving Spokesperson Ereli to field questions from reporters.

Poll Leak May Land Reporters In Court, Prosecuted Under Espionage Laws

"I believe Secretary Rice may have gotten some notes mixed up," said Ereli. "She had just received some new briefings, and copy from the Lincoln Group, and she may have merged her thoughts."

Ereli confirmed that the Lincoln Group's role has been expanded, beyond Iraq, to provide editorial copy in Palestine, promoting pro-U.S. and Israeli positions.

"I don't know if we have any video of Secretary Rice, during her Hurricane Katrina briefings, but I can assure you, she was as stunned as the President when she learned of the levees breaching and the subsequent flooding of New Orleans."

Ereli also announced that the State Department has asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to investigate who leaked the commissioned poll results and "we could be hauling some reporters into court."

"This is a shameful act," said Ereli. "Actions like this could be helping the enemy. We'll just have to wait and see if these person or persons can be prosecuted under espionage laws."

Rice Doesn't See Civil War In Iraq Either

Ereli also read a statement from Secretary Rice that " I agree with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace that things are going very, very well in Iraq."

On NBC's "Meet The Press" yesterday, Pace told host Tim Russert that the media was obsessing on the negative and "I don't think we're getting the goodness out to the American people the way we should. Somehow we need to find a way to have balance in the amount of reporting that we're able to get out."

Pace later downplayed a Russert question, that, with the growing and unending violence in Iraq, as well as objective observers - including a rising number of conservative pundits - indicating the President's Iraq Policy is a failure, that insurgents are killing informers and those supporting the U.S. Forces and Iraq Government.

"I believe it's the fear factor, not the support factor," said Pace. "The tip line last March was getting about 400 tips per month. Now it's upwards of 4,000 tips per month that are coming in from Iraqi citizens telling their government and telling us where -- where problems are."

Neither Pace, the State Department, the Defense Department or the White House would confirm reports that the Chiefs of Staff are planning a "letter-writing" campaign to the media, protesting the reports that a civil war is either happening or is imminent in Iraq.

Also unconfirmed is reports the Washington Post reporter and author Bob Woodward has notes, tapes and other information from informed sources that there is a civil war in Iraq, but will not be writing about.

'He doesn't want to get involved," said a source close to the Washington Post. "He doesn't want to testify, or give any depositions. He's willing to let the other 'Post reporters scoop him on this."

T0 go with the theme of diversity at last night's Academy Awards, a multi-colored French Poodle was included in the "Swag Bags" given to Oscar presenters

No comments: