Friday, September 08, 2006

Case of the Missing Tony Snow Transcript

Early Wednesday morning, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow fielded questions from reporters on ABC's taped interview with Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan, press secretary to the president of Pakistan, which aired the night before.

While discussing the "peace deal" Pakistan agreed to with pro-Taliban militants in the North Waziristan region, Khan told ABC's Brian Ross (on tape) that -- if found -- Osama bin Laden wouldn't be arrested, as long as he promises to behave like a "peaceful citizen."

Some time before Snow's briefing, Pakistan denied the report and Khan said that his taped comments in the interview were "totally fabricated."

I have no idea if Snow's remarks were said at a gaggle or a briefing...all I do know is that there is no transcript of the briefing. Not at, not at Federal News Service, not anywhere.

I also have no idea if the briefing was aired on television. FOX News Channel, which I happened to be watching that late-morning-to-late-afternoon, referred to Snow's comments throughout the day but never showed any tape.

I also also have no idea how hard the questioning got or what else was said...but here's what I could find that Snow told reporters, according to accounts by the Associated Press, FOX News, and U.S. Department of State:

Associated Press

White House press secretary Tony Snow said it was "simply not true" that "somehow bin Laden or members of al-Qaida would get a free pass if they kept their noses clean."

Some observers have expressed worry that Pakistan's recent peace deal with Islamic militants in a remote region on the Afghan border could provide a haven for militant leaders like bin Laden.

Snow said Pakistan has stated that "the cease-fire is, in fact, not going to diminish efforts to apprehend Osama bin Laden or bring him to justice."

Fox News

"There's been an implication that somehow this throws open the border area to Al Qaeda. That does not make sense for the government of Pakistan," White House spokesman Tony Snow said, responding to reporters' questions in Washington.

"We don't believe it is the case," he said. "And I think what's happened is, as quite often happens, people try to connect dots that aren't there."

U.S. Department of State

The Bush administration has been apprised of the Pakistani government’s September 5 cease-fire deal with tribal Taliban in north Waziristan on the country’s border with Afghanistan. The cease-fire is part of the Pakistani government’s efforts to eliminate extremism in the border areas, according to White House press secretary Tony Snow.

Snow told reporters September 6 that the cease-fire “is part of an integrated effort to bring security, political stability and economic development to Waziristan” by addressing “root causes” blocking development in those areas, which previously have not been governed by a central government.


Snow said that Musharraf government “has been very cooperative in helping track down members of al-Qaida,” and that under the terms of the cease-fire, “local tribal Taliban – not al-Qaida or Taliban operating in Afghanistan – have agreed not to shelter foreigners … and also have agreed not to allow cross border incursions into Afghanistan or to attack the military.”

The Bush administration does not believe reports that the cease-fire agreement “throws open the border area to al-Qaida,” saying that such a scenario “does not make sense for the government of Pakistan,” Snow said.

He added that the Bush administration wants to assist the Pakistani government in securing north Waziristan and in going after al-Qaida, and the administration believes the cease-fire “is consistent with those efforts.”

Perhaps I'm silly to fret about the missing transcript of a potentially damaging press conference held on the same day as a major speech given by the President on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks two months before an election when there's more important docudramas to worry about.


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