Why Is Dana So Touchy?

In all fairness to Dana "Pig Missile" Perino, she probably doesn’t want to become the next Scottie McClellan, forced to say things from the podium while Dick Cheney is hiding his criminal ways behind those public statements. Still, Dana comes off very badly in yesterday’s attempt to explain why anonymous sources at the White House are saying one thing and she’s saying another.

Q Dana, can you tell us why you decided to put out this statement this morning about The New York Times story? Why did you feel compelled to respond?

MS. PERINO: Well, the subhead of the newspaper indicated that the White House — well, it says the White House role was wider than it said, implying that I had either changed my story, or I or somebody else at the White House had misled the public. And that is not true. And I heard now from The New York Times that they will retract that headline, and they are going to run a correction tomorrow.

Q But the underlying facts, four White House lawyers who are named knew about the destruction or the intent to destroy the tapes beforehand. Are you disputing that?

MS. PERINO: I have not commented on that — and when we are in that —

Q (Inaudible.)

MS. PERINO: Helen, I’m going to finish this answer. The White House has not commented on anybody’s involvement or knowledge, save for me telling everybody that the President had no recollection of being briefed on the existence or the destruction of the tapes before he was briefed by General Hayden. After that, I did not comment on anybody’s knowledge or involvement. So if somebody has information that contradicts the one thing that I’ve said, then this would be true — but it’s not. And that is why I asked for a correction and The New York Times is going to correct it.

Q So you’re disputing the characterization in that —

MS. PERINO: Absolutely, it’s wrong.

Q — not the underlying facts of the story.

MS. PERINO: I’m not commenting on the underlying facts of the story. I’m sticking with what I have done in the past, which is that —

Q (Inaudible.)

MS. PERINO: Well, there is a —

Q (Inaudible) — it was back before (inaudible) was involved and The New York Times has information saying that they were involved. Isn’t that wider than you were saying? You’re only saying, well, the President had no involvement — therefore, you’re saying that, you know —

MS. PERINO: If you want to defend The New York Times, then you might look at it that way. I’m looking at it from anybody White House —

Q It does seem like it’s not that —

MS. PERINO: I think anyone — and believe me, the people that I’ve talked to, the reading of it — when I first looked at it, I felt that that was saying that I had misled the American public on this, and I have not. There is nothing I have said that has been contradictory. And there is a preliminary inquiry being led by Attorney General Mukasey and General Hayden, and it is appropriate to let that play out.

Under our Constitution the press is free to speculate as much as they want, and they can report on as many former administration officials or unnamed current officials that they want to, that contradict each other throughout this story. I’m not allowed to do that. I am an employee of the federal government. I respect the request from the White House Counsel’s Office that we not comment from this podium, and I have not. And for someone to imply that I had is offensive.

Q Well, you’re the one (inaudible) implication. You’re the one who said —

Q You’re the one who’s drawing the implication. Would you have been happy if the subhead had read, "White House role was lighter than previously understood"?

MS. PERINO: I have not — what it says is that I had changed my story, and I have not.

Q It doesn’t say that.

MS. PERINO: It — that’s how I took it, and I am not —

Q It does not say —

MS. PERINO: — the only one.

Q It simply says that the White House does not comment on this, then it goes on to —

MS. PERINO: That is not — that’s not what it says in its headline, Bill. And there was editorial decision that led to this subheadline, because if they didn’t want to make this point to try to say that the White House had misled the public, why would they put it in bold face above the fold, and then not — and then it’s not supported by any of the facts or the contradictory statements in the article.


Q — you say it was contradicting you —

MS. PERINO: It says the White House role was wider than "it" said — "it" is referring to the White House, I am the spokesperson for the White House.

Q Okay. Okay, but you’re defining it that way. In fact, right after the first — this story first broke, people within the administration did say privately that, in fact, Harriet Miers had told the CIA not to destroy the tapes and that that suggested that the White House, in fact, was saying don’t destroy. Now this New York Times story is saying four people in the President — or Vice President’s inner circle actually talked to the CIA about it. So that does suggest a wider role.

MS. PERINO: I am not accountable for all the anonymous sources that you turn up. I’m not. I am accountable — I speak for the President and the White House. This says that I was misleading, and I was not.

Q It doesn’t say you. It doesn’t say you at all. And there were other people in the administration who —

MS. PERINO: The White House does not comment. The only thing that I have said from this podium is regarding to the President and his recollection. And if CNN has different information that they want to provide to me that contradicts what I’ve said, you know, let’s see it.

Q They didn’t specifically say it’s you. It’s talking about the White House, the administration in general.

MS. PERINO: I speak for the White House. I represent the White House.

Q Why do you take it personally?

MS. PERINO: I’m not taking it personally. I’m taking it — I speak for the White House. It’s not a personal thing. The White House asked for a correction. And I would remind you, The New York Times is going to do one.

Of course, Dana’s fighting a losing battle, since several of the journalists know that someone in the White House was floating the Harriet Miers story, and the more Dana pretends that those people weren’t floating the story, the more it will erode her own credibility.

At least, that’s the way it should work.  Those journalists who got the false Harriet Miers story should expose their source–who was, after all, misleading the journalists–and illustrate the degree to which this Administration abuses jouanlistic rules to sow lies. That’s the way it should work. But it probably won’t.

I wonder who’s in charge of taking journalists to the St. Regis these days… 

27 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    And in the meantime, her boss is tap dancing away…”Sounds pretty clear to me when I say I have — the first recollection is when Mike Hayden briefed me. That’s pretty clear…”

    Cannot find a transcript of this morning’s presser yet, want to pick this apart more carefully. I almost feel sorry for Dana, who is an older version of Monica Goodling, just trying to do her job and stand by her “man”, while not pissing off DeadEye so badly that she finds a shiv stuck in her ribcage. [emphasis on “almost”]

  2. BaldPrairie says:

    Why’s she Touchy/grumpy/anxious/nervous/sweaty ?

    “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”

    I’m always pleased to see the wisdom in so many of these old phrases

  3. Neil says:

    Illustrate the degree to which this Administration abuses jouanlistic rules to sow lies.

    Amen. It kinda goes back to LHPs point a few short weeks ago. You must take a bully head-on. A bully only has the power you’re willing to concede.

  4. SaltinWound says:

    This was a pure panic move. I’m reminded a bit of Rice’s chaotic gaggle on Air Force 1 when she tried to shiv Tenet (July 11th?). These people are at their least competent (and most vulnerable) when they get involved in turf wars and trying to clear their own names.

  5. biffdiggerence says:

    I respect the request from the White House Counsel’s Office that we not comment from this podium, and I have not. And for someone to imply that I had is offensive.

    I’m not taking it personally. I’m taking it — I speak for the White House. It’s not a personal thing.

    Contradiction, anyone ?

  6. TheraP says:

    My take is like a crazy person in a dysfunctional family. Just at the time when the family’s dirty laundry is about to be hung out to dry for all to see, the “crazy” person steps forward with a nonsensical attack on those who apparently are “after” the crazy person. No matter how paranoid the ravings of this person, they have a purpose – to distract attention and get people focussed on the craziness appearing in their midst.

    In that sense perino’s meltdown certainly did attract attention, just like the ravings of a troll on a blog.

    We may see more of this. I’m not sure she’s aware she’s playing the role of a lightening rod or not, but that’s her current role.

  7. Neil says:

    As the one who has to explain away all of the contradictions-between the president’s position, when he has one, his lawyers, the VP, his lawyers, State, CIA, the Pentagon, and the “Cheney’s leak the fraudulent story to the press guy”-Perino has a tough job. Just when will she figure out she’s fronting a criminal enterprise?

  8. radiofreewill says:

    Dana is Scared that she’s going to get rolled into the Torture Tape Destruction Cover-up, and be hung out to dry just like Scottie was on the Plame Leak Cover-up.

    I believe BushCo will go into Total Information Lock-Down on the Torture Tapes.

    Also, in his presser today, Bush was asked what advice he’d give to the incoming president. His response included warning his successor to ‘have a plan for getting the “unvarnished truth” from Advisors, because things that seem like no big deal today can become a big deal tomorrow.’

    My take on that is that he’s already got a firewall plan in place, and it includes burning a ‘bad’ advisor over the Destruction of the Torture Tapes for not having informed Bush, even about their existence.

    Still, I don’t believe Bush. I don’t believe that He Didn’t Watch the Torture he Ordered and, in fact, Forced on the CIA.

    Who’s Bush gonna Burn for His Torture Program?

    • Hmmm says:

      Addington. The term’s so close to over now (and they’re getting so radioactive now) that they can’t much new stuff done — so Addington’s drive is no longer the asset it once was.

      I see a break between Team W who will survive and Team Dick who is being sacrificed, but willing to go red in tooth and claw on the way down. Dana is Team W. Kinda like sacrifice-Scooter all over again, but for keeps this time.

  9. WilliamOckham says:

    I get it now. Perino is upset because she hasn’t ever said the White House wasn’t involved. She is tacitly admitting (because she must know that Hayden told the SSCI last week that the WH was involved) that the WH was up to its ears in this stuff.

    One other point, I think everybody is making a false assumption about one of the leaks. I’ve seen some people point to a contradiction between ‘WH lawyers cautioned the CIA to be careful about destroying the tapes’ and ‘WH officials wanted to destroy the tapes’.

    There is no contradiction. Instead, this telegraphs what happened. Cheney, et. al., told the CIA to get rid of the tapes, but the lawyers said be careful about how you do it. The WH lawyers never said not to destroy the tapes because their bosses wanted the tapes destroyed.

  10. drational says:

    Is not part of the refusal and obfuscation the apparent single-mided definition of “White House” to which Perino appears to be holding? It seems she is equating “White House” with “The President”, and herself as spokesperson for the “White House”. Hence, Addington and Cheney, and Probably Miers and Gonzales, may be excluded from her definition. And I don’t think I am too far from the tree given their belief in Cheney being a 4th branch of government.

    Since she had only ever told people Bush did not know anything, and White House = President Bush, there is no way that there could ever be a “wider White House Role” unless a reporter dug up some proof that more than one region of Bush’s brain registered the Tape’s existence.

    I wonder if they may be playing funny with definitions, kinda like “TSP”.

    Thus they know the definition of “white house”, and they know there is a lot more involvement outside their strict definition of White House, but they neglect to inform anyone of their special secret code, and continue to talk around and around and around the truth.

    And every night when Pig Missle says her prayers, she gives thanks that she is working for the decider, and has nothing to do with those nasty men in the VP office who run the government.

    • TheraP says:

      I agree. It’s clear that ms perino has totally identified herself with the Decider and his “goodness” (yech!). She will most definitely end up being seen as a pawn in a game beyond her ken. Too bad… she chose the wrong side!

      WO: strange to imagine the press has not caught on. But then too much is strange here anyway!

  11. PetePierce says:

    Dana’s over her head in trying to front for these liars. But the gutless dems are the facilitators of this lying juggernaut. The 110th Congress has held members of the administration in contempt in both chambers, and now what?

    Think of the lying administration as Pinnochio with a straight arm that knoscks the dems down every time.

    Tomorrow in Henry Kennedy’s courtroom you’ll see State Secrets plastered all over the walls.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is, mistakenly, I believe, a manufactured controversy from the same minds that gave us Ms. Perino in the first place. She’s a she’s, she’s purdy, she’s not Tony or Scotty, and her speech and memory are only slightly better than Shrub’s (so that the difference won’t be so dramatic).

    Perino’s, “They’re attacking my credibility!” ought to ring hollow from the mouth of any White House press officer. It’s as inevitable as Bush claiming that tax cuts pay for themselves (they don’t and won’t). It’s also irrelevant, which is why the White House hopes that the Village will make it the lede. They did, dutifully, including Jim Lehrer’s increasingly unreliable PBS NewsHour. (Gwen Ifill’s “interview” of Mitch McConnell yesterday was pure press conference; nary a tough question or challenged characterization in sight.)

    Ms. Perino is merely greasing her pig, hoping that Helen Thomas and the blogs won’t be able to catch it. Thankfully, too many people are on to her and the White House’s game; they’ll just figuratively shoot her pig instead of trying to catch hold of its greased sides.

    But why is the real lede relevant? Why care about the CIA destroying a few of presumably thousands of taped interrogations? Because it’s in the bottom row of this president’s house of cards. Led by Cheney, Bush has built his administration on secret spying, secret torture, and routine deception that is a millimeter this side of lying and perjury – from the false, misleading names of legislation to foreign wars of choice, to the perversion and obstruction of justice. Why grab this particular story? When you can’t grab the lion’s teeth, hold the tail until help comes along. And shout for it.

  13. jackie says:

    The thing that is hiding under all this torture/torture tapes etc is the people were/are being questioned/tortured, because of their involvement’ in the WTC bombings. So if the info given under torture, is not the ‘truth’, then the ‘official’ version of what went down on Sept 11 is shown to be Bullshit and Bush/Cheney/Co don’t want anyone to look down that Rabbit-hole.

  14. looseheadprop says:

    THANK YOU MArcy for that transcript.

    You know, it reads like some spoof transcript.

    I enjoyed it VERY much

  15. rapt says:

    Jackie ends with, “Bush/Cheney/Co don’t want anyone to look down that Rabbit-hole.”

    You are exactly right IMO, to point out the grizzly crux of the issue here. It explains why those tapes had to be destroyed, crime or not, and why bush/cheneyCo will go to ANY length to prevent their being seen/heard.

    It could be, following the same line, that a segment of CIA is in the process of pulling aside the curtain to force the issue; that is, to block all the hidey-holes so far available to the perps. I can’t imagine what a horrendous disaster that would be to the lizards if it is successful.

  16. Skilly says:

    I wonder, Why isn’t the press asking what else was destroyed around that time frame. What other records existence were deemed by Rodriquez to put operatives at risk?
    Secondly, Remember how the military said that the abu garib mis-treatments were isolated, unrelated, “criminal” events carried out by rogue soldiers? Some of those soldeirs were court martialed. Doesn’t this just add further fuel to their defense that they were carrying out policy. Shouldn’t Rodriquez really be saying that he did it (destroy evidence) b/c he knew that the Administration had already demonstrated by allowing the abu gharib court martials to proceed, that they would not protect the individuals who carry out the ordered, approved and “patriotic” acts of torture done in the name of the U.S.?? It would be interesting to see in the time line of events, how the court martials related to the the destruction of evidence.

  17. prostratedragon says:

    Is this 2 big ones for Dana or 3, I’ve lost count. But during the height of the NIE flap I was wondering whether she’d see out the next 30 days. Even tools can suffer metal fatigue, and the WH folks are pretty heavy-handed.

Comments are closed.