Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a White House press briefing conducted by Tony Snow: The White House James S. Brady Briefing Room 12:32 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: Good afternoon all...

Q Other issues have been used as a diversionary tactic.

MR. SNOW: Are you -- I don't have any idea what you're talking about there.

Q Let me ask my question first then we'll go back to that a little later on.

MR. SNOW: Well, it's the tenet of your question, April. It's one of the --

Q Okay, well "diversionary tactic" meaning some of the other issues about Iraq and things of that nature and what's going on. This administration has said, years after --

MR. SNOW: Wait, you're saying -- you're saying that Iraq is a -- Iraq , which bin Laden himself has said is a central front on the war on terror, is a diversionary tactic?

Q In some -- some people are saying that Iraq --

MR. SNOW: In some -- who's saying this? I mean, I just --

Q Many Democrats. You got people who just want to --

MR. SNOW: Okay, I would say that they're wrong, but go ahead.

Q Okay, here's the issue. Years after 9/11, this administration diminished the significance of Osama bin Laden, saying he was just trying to maintain that he was indeed just trying to survive. Then, a couple weeks ago, at that podium, that exact podium, Fran Townsend said, he's helping to mastermind plots with the Iraq al-Qaeda. Now, a couple days ago, Fran Townsend uses the word "impotent." What is it?

MR. SNOW: What you have is Osama bin Laden is clearly a guy who does not have the kind of freedom or the ability to run terror camps and this sort of thing that he had some years ago. Nevertheless, you've got to keep in mind -- what you've done is you personalized it. You've tried to reduce the war to one person. That's not the right way to think about this. The United States government remains vigilant about al-Qaeda. Certainly, we would love to find Osama bin Laden; that has not changed.

Q Tony, has the White House been surprised by anything that General Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker have said in their testimony?

MR. SNOW: Not that I'm aware of, no. But again, the President had been -- as General Petraeus pointed out yesterday, he briefed the President on what his views were last week.

Q Tony, given some of the doubts that Elaine and Terry were talking about before --

MR. SNOW: Which doubts?

Q The doubts that were being voiced by Republican lawmakers --

MR. SNOW: A couple of members, yes.

Q -- the concerns about whether the cost is worth it --

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q -- if the gains --

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q -- there are again discussions on the Hill about what would purportedly be compromise language, attempting to shorten the withdrawal window that Petraeus has already described and even to force a change in the mission.

MR. SNOW: Mark, I don't -- what you're trying to do -- again, look, let's wait until the President has given his speech, and then we can do all the what-ifs. As I recall, Senator Warner said he's not going to be ready to talk about anything until after the President has given his speech. Rather than trying to sort of what-if into the void, let's wait until somebody has come up with a proposal, and then I'd be happy to talk about it.

Q Is the President opposed to any attempt to force his hand?

MR. SNOW: What do you mean any attempt to force --

Q By Congress.

MR. SNOW: What the President wants is for Congress, A, to listen respectfully to the testimony, and B, to be supportive of succeeding in the war on terror.


Q Aside from the congressional reaction to the testimony, do you have any way of gauging what public reaction to the testimony is?

MR. SNOW: I'm sure people have been doing polling on it; I haven't looked at it overnight. I'm sure somebody has done some snap polls, some of the pollsters have, but I haven't seen it.