In his column today, my brother lists some questions he would have asked if he had been at the impromptu Bush press conference held yesterday:
Questions I Would Have Asked
Sir, there were two big developments yesterday about torture in Iraq. Newly released Army documents show that there have been many more alleged acts of brutality and abuse of Iraqis at the hands of military personnel than we knew of. And a new report from Human Rights Watch says some of Saddam's torturers are back in business under new management and that torture is again routine in Iraq. Are you outraged?
Sir, in one of the new incidents made public yesterday, a 73-year-old Iraqi woman was captured by members of the Delta Force special unit and allegedly robbed and sexually abused. One of your special assistants, whose name was redacted, apparently took an interest in the case. But like all of these newly released cases, it was closed without a conclusion. Did you know about this — or any other of the incidents made public yesterday?
Sir, let me read you a question Sen. Ted Kennedy asked Alberto Gonzales: “The FBI e-mails produced in the ACLU lawsuit include reports that detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo have suffered from the following abuses: Detainees were bound hand and foot and left in urine and feces for 18-24 hours; cigarette burns were inflicted; detainees were exposed to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods; enemas were forced on detainees. Do you believe any of these practices were or are lawful interrogation techniques or lawful detainee management?” In his written reply, Mr. Gonzales refused to rule any of those out. Will you?
Sir, you spoke in your inaugural address about bringing liberty to every corner of the globe. Do you mean like in Iraq? Are you aware that some people who don't share your world view don't consider that a good example?
Sir, why do you continue to say that Social Security will go bankrupt in 2042 when in fact even in the worst-case scenario it could still pay out 73 percent of wage-adjusted benefits? That's not bankrupt. In fact, your staffers are talking up a plan that would cut benefits even further than that. So why use the term bankrupt?
Sir, Social Security isn't really a retirement plan, it's more like an insurance plan, making sure that the elderly, the disabled, their dependents and survivors don't go destitute. Some people get a lot more out than they put in; others get a lot less; it's like insurance that way. Private accounts would be a huge change to the structure as established by FDR. What in your view is wrong with the way Social Security works now, other than the alleged financial shortfall, which private accounts don't address anyway?
Sir, when you go out into the country to make your case on Social Security “directly to the American people” will you only be meeting with and speaking to pre-screened groups of people who already agree with you? Or will you be willing to hear dissenting voices?
This is why he'll never be part of the White House
Poodle Press Corps. And if by some accident he ever is there, he'll get the Helen Thomas treatment:
this was the first press conference since July 2002 that Bush has held in the cramped basement briefing room, where the press secretary normally holds court. Intervening press conferences have been held in the East Room, the Rose Garden, and in other locations.
There are assigned seats in the briefing room, and Bush started, like press secretary Scott McClellan normally does, by working his way through the first few rows, Kumar said. With one exception: “He called on everyone in the front two rows except for Helen,” Kumar said, referring to firebrand Helen Thomas, doyenne of the White House press corps, now a columnist for Hearst, and a scourge to the Bush administration.
You can chat online with Dan via washingtonpost.com in their Live Online feature tomorrow, Friday, at 1 p.m. ET.