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9/14/06 White House Press Briefing Excerpt

By ThinkProgress on September 14, 2006 at 3:33 pm

QUESTION: Second question is, you, kind of, laughed off this rumor, you said, on Capitol Hill, that the JAG had been coerced to write this letter.

SNOW: Jags.

QUESTION: The officers — the JAG officers.

Senator Graham is telling reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House had them in a meeting for five hours last night and tried to force them to sign a prepared statement. And he said, Reading this JAG letter they ended up writing leaves total ambiguity on interpretation. This is Senator Lindsay Graham.

What’s your response to that?

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Wait a minute…

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Here’s the answer. The real answer is go back and read the testimony from August.

QUESTION: Was there a meeting?

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: The testimony — I don’t know if — there was not a White House meeting. I don’t think so. I don’t think there was a White House meeting.

I do know that they were asked to express in a letter the opinions that they had expressed in open committee, in testimony before the United States Senate — I believe it was the Judiciary Committee; maybe Armed Services — in August.

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: I don’t know who — ask who — the thing is, if you start going into who asked whom to write letters, I don’t know. We could ask each side.

Here’s the important thing.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You said it wasn’t a White House meeting. Were there White House people there?

SNOW: I don’t think so. I’ll find out.

QUESTION: Who called it together? You’ve got to give us some clarity on that issue.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: … Jim Haynes, who’s the counsel at the Pentagon, convened this meeting and got these guys to write this letter and something they told people they didn’t agree with.

SNOW: Well, I don’t think so, because these would be — if it’s possible…

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: … no, that’s not the case.

SNOW: It’s not the case.

They were asked to write a letter that reflected their views and they edited and signed the letter.

Furthermore, these are the same people…

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: I honestly don’t know.

I don’t know who asked Colin Powell to write letters. I don’t know who asked others to write letters.