She's getting to it with Scott McClellan at the Press Conferences. So do the rest of the White House corps. Look at how she knocks him around about Kay's comments and WMDs:
Q David Kay said on the Hill today that he supports the idea of an independent investigation into the intelligence failures about what Iraq had in terms of weapons. Does the administration support David Kay's idea, or support that idea?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think that David Kay has also publicly talked about the importance of letting the Iraq Survey Group complete its work. The Iraq Survey Group -- the mission of the Iraq Survey Group is to find the truth. That work is ongoing. They did provide a progress report, I would remind you, which showed that Saddam Hussein's regime was, indeed, in material breach of Security Council Resolution 1441. So it's important that we let the Iraq Survey Group complete their work and gather all the facts they can. Then we can go back and compare what we knew before the war with what we've learned since. But that work is ongoing at this point.
I would point out that the CIA has publicly talked about the fact that they have an internal process where they go and review their intelligence. And that's something that's ongoing at this point, as well. It's important that we gather all the facts, that we look at all that information and compare it to what we knew before the war. That's important. But first, before we can draw firm conclusions, we need to let the Iraq Survey Group complete its work. But, at the same time, the CIA is already looking into the intelligence as well.
Q Well, the CIA, obviously, isn't an independent commission. Do you think the idea of an independent commission is incompatible with letting the Iraq Survey Group complete its work?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think our position at this point is we want the Iraq Survey Group to complete the important work that it has undertaken. That work is still a work in progress. There is a new head, Charles Duelfer, of the Iraq Survey Group. We need to let him get in there and complete the work that Dr. Kay started. Dr. Kay --
Q Are you saying weapons can still --
MR. McCLELLAN: Dr. Kay did a great job working on the Iraq Survey Group. We very much appreciate his service. It's difficult work. But he has pointed out that they need to complete their work.
Q Are you saying that still -- you still expect weapons to be found, when the President, the Vice President, Powell and so forth have basically written that off?
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I think I've addressed this question over the last couple of days. What we know is that Saddam Hussein's regime was a gathering threat. And in a post --
Q I didn't ask you that --
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand, but I'm coming to your question. In a post-September 11th world, it's important that we confront those threats before it's too late --
Q What were his threats? Has he ever threatened us?
MR. McCLELLAN: And before -- before -- well, we -- and Dr. Kay, himself, has stated that it was a very dangerous place. The President talked about, you had a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world. And after September 11th, this President is acting decisively to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect the American people, because we want to do everything we can to prevent something like that from ever happening again.
Q Do you still expect to find weapons?
MR. McCLELLAN: The work of the Iraq Survey Group is ongoing. And they've already found that he was in material breach of Security Council Resolution 1441. I would remind you that that was a unanimous --
Q That's not answering the question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, that was a unanimous resolution that said, Saddam Hussein, you have one final opportunity to comply, or face serious consequences.
Q I'm asking you if you found the weapons.
MR. McCLELLAN: And as I pointed out yesterday, if the inspectors had found even half of what Dr. Kay's team, through the Iraq Survey Group, has already uncovered, they would have had to have found his regime in clear violation of 1441. So we're going to let their work continue. I'm not going to get into prejudging the outcome of their work; it's ongoing. But we already know that they have reconfirmed --
Q You're doing a beautiful job of filibustering. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you, Helen. We have already reconfirmed that it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Q Who said so?
MR. McCLELLAN: The world -- I think a lot of people say so. The world is a safer and better place --
Q Well, the jury is still out.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the world is a safer and better place because Saddam Hussein has been removed from power. America is more secure. It was the right decision then, and we know that it was the right decision today.
Q Scott, I'd just like to review a couple past administration statements with you. I won't bother you with the dates, but I can provide them for you. Secretary Rumsfeld said that Saddam has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons; large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons. President Bush referred to stockpiles of anthrax we know he has, stockpiles of BX, the biological weapons which he possesses. And Secretary Powell said, our conservative estimate is that Iraq today -- this was on February 5th, I'll give you that date, last year -- has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent, enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets. Do you today stand by the accuracy of those statements?
MR. McCLELLAN: You know, John, I think we addressed this yesterday, as well. The work of the --
Q Scott, with respect, we never talked about these statements made by administration officials in the past, in which they unequivocally say that he had large, clandestine stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. So do you stand by the accuracy of those statements?
MR. McCLELLAN: The intelligence that was presented was something that was shared by intelligence agencies around the world. It was certainly information that was shared by the United Nations, as well. There was a lot of similar conclusions, a lot of the information came from UNSCOM's report, as well, which talked about what was known about Saddam Hussein's regime. I would point out to you that the choice was Saddam Hussein's. He had 12 years to come clean. He had some 17 resolutions to come clean. And even then, he was given one final opportunity to comply through Secretary Council Resolution 1441. He chose to continue to defy the international community.
Given his history -- I would remind you that we know that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; we know that he had used weapons of mass destruction on his neighbors and on his own people; we know that he failed to comply with the demands of the international community; we know that he refused to account for the programs and information that you're talking about. And, yet, he was given one final opportunity, and he chose to continue to defy the international community. Given his history and given the events of September 11th, we were not going to wait on the good intentions of Saddam Hussein.
Q Well, Scott, given those statements that John raises, do you think it's possible that the next time the United States government -- this President or another President -- accuses a nation of developing weapons of mass destruction secretly, there will be many people in many governments around the world who will say, why should we believe you?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think that if you go back and look at the intelligence, it was something that was shared by other intelligence agencies around the world. It was shared by the United Nations. There was a lot of similar intelligence that everybody had and was made available publicly, in terms of what was going on in Iraq. Saddam Hussein --
Q And it turned out to be wrong.
MR. McCLELLAN: Saddam Hussein had the choice to come clean. And, again, we cannot afford to rely on his good intentions in this post-September 11th world.
Q But I asked about the future, not the past. And I'm asking about is there damage, strategically, done to the United States' credibility on this issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think you want to --
Q And what will the President do about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think you appreciate the importance of gathering all the facts that you can. That work is ongoing, in terms of the Iraq Survey Group. At the same time, the CIA has already -- a long time ago began looking at the intelligence. They took that steps, themselves. They've talked about it publicly. That effort is ongoing. But it's important to let the Iraq Survey Group gather all the facts that they can and to draw as complete a picture as they can. Then we can go and look at what we knew before the war and compare that with what was learned since.
But I remind you that that intelligence was shared by many agencies around the world, and certainly the United States had a lot of similar views.
Q So there isn't a "boy who cried wolf" problem that the United States has --
MR. McCLELLAN: Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat, Terry. And it was important to remove him from power. The world is safer and better because of the action that we took. I think that's the bottom line.
Q Scott, the Vice President apparently was, in a recent interview on NPR, was pointing to these two trailers that were found in Iraq as conclusive evidence that Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, an ongoing weapons of mass destruction program. And this was as recently, I guess, as last week. David Kay, however, today says that it is the conclusion of all the experts they were never used for weapons of mass destruction. Why is he still saying that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think he talked about what was known before and then the different views that are held -- I think I saw what Dr. Kay said about that. But you can direct questions to the Vice President's office if you need to. But, again, if you go back to the progress report that was released by the Iraq Survey Group, it showed that Saddam Hussein's regime was, indeed, in clear violation of Security Council Resolutions 1441. And Security Council Resolutions 1441 called for serious consequences if he continued his defiance.
David, do you have something?
Q Well, since neither you, nor the President, is willing to offer an explanation for how it is that the intelligence was so far off from the reality, then why shouldn't voters this year, in this election year, question the President's credibility on the basis for which he took us to war? If the President wants to wait until all the facts are gathered by the ISG, that's one thing. The voters are voting this year and they're looking at this issue now. Why shouldn't they judge his credibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and I would say that -- I say that when we went to the American people and outlined the case, that it was very clear that Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat, and that Iraq -- the regime in Iraq was a unique situation. We're confronting threats in a number of different ways. One of them I talked about yesterday in terms of Libya, about the great progress we're making there, how they're eliminating their weapons --
Q -- was based on weapons that don't exist --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on.
Q But we've heard all this. I understand you want to get to this stuff, but the gathering threat was cited based on weapons that don't exist. So isn't that a credibility problem?
MR. McCLELLAN: We know that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction. We know that he had a history of using weapons of mass destruction. We know that he had the intention, we know that he had the capability. Dr. Kay has talked about that just recently, in just the last few days. We know that it was a regime that had sought to be dominant in the Middle East. The Middle East is a very dangerous part of the world. And what we are working to achieve in Iraq will help bring about a more secure and more peaceful Middle East. And I talked about -- and we're moving forward --
Q Well, it would have been fine if you'd actually said that before the war, instead of citing the weapons stuff --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, wait. And Saddam Hussein was the one who made the choice. He had every opportunity to come clean and comply with his international obligations. Saddam Hussein refused. Saddam Hussein was given a final opportunity. He continued to defy the international community. He had 12 years and some 17 resolutions. And in the post-September 11th world that we live in, the President is going to do everything he can to make sure that we're confronting new and dangerous threats that we face.
Q Was the President misled? Did the President mislead the country in any way --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, David, in terms of the Iraq Survey Group, that work is ongoing. We want them to finish their work. It's important that they find the truth. That was what the President told the Iraq Survey Group to do: find the truth. And so they will gather all the facts that they can and they will come to -- well, they will draw as complete a picture as possible. And then we can go back and compare what was known before with what we've learned since.
Q You keep saying it's important for the Iraq Survey Group to continue its work. When you were asked about the 9/11 Commission this morning, you said that it was important for them to stick to the schedule that was set out for them. In October, David Kay said that the Iraq Survey Group would complete its work within six to nine months. Is it important that they stick to that schedule and --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look, Charles Duelfer is now the head of it. David Kay was operating independently, had a lot of autonomy to do what he needed to do. What we wanted to make sure was that he had the resources he needed, so that he could go and find the truth. But he has since resigned; there's a new person coming in. Those determinations will be made based on his judgments of when he can complete the work. But, obviously, yes, we would like it to be completed as soon as it possibly can, for the very reasons that I've stated. It's important that we look back at what we knew before the war and compare that with what we've learned since.
Q But you're not willing to put any sort of timetable on it --
MR. McCLELLAN: Those aren't our decisions to make. It's the decisions of the Iraq Survey Group, now headed by Charles Duelfer, to make. And we hope they move forward as quickly as they can to gather all the facts and draw as complete a picture as they possibly can.
Q Scott, two questions. One, it was a rare opportunity for a Foreign Minister to be welcomed by the President in the Oval Office, Prime Minister of India, last week. He was at a press conference at the new embassy, praised President Bush from left and right. Could you tell us what President did to him, or what they talked about and what was really their discussion, other than what we know now?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think he was here meeting with some other officials and it was more of a brief meeting with the President. But, obviously, one of our priorities remains working with India and Pakistan so that they can continue to engage in a dialogue that will help reduce tensions in the region.