For 24 hours, Bush and other top administration officials refused to confirm the existence of their secret domestic spying program, arguing that doing so would endanger the American people:
President Bush, 12/16/05
I know that people are anxious to know the details of operations, they– people want me to comment about the veracity of the story. It’s the policy of this government, just not going do it, and the reason why is that because it would compromise our ability to protect the people.
Press Secretary Scott McClellan, 12/16/05:
This relates to intelligence activities and ongoing intelligence operations that are aimed at saving lives. And there’s a reason why we don’t get into discussing ongoing intelligence activities, because it could compromise our efforts to prevent attacks from happening.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 12/16/05:
Well, I’m, again, not going to comment on intelligence activities because intelligence activities, by their very nature, are activities that are sensitive and that should not be compromised.
This morning, President Bush not only confirmed the existence of the program but provided details about how it worked.
This demonstrates that the administration’s initial refusal to comment was not motivated by security concerns. If that was the case Bush still wouldn’t have been able to comment this morning. Rather, the refusal to comment was a public relations strategy. When they decided it wasn’t working, they scrapped it and tried something else.