Big props to Speaker Pelosi for not holding back and being clear that this was a non-story being made into a scandal.
...(T)here are probably those in the Department of Defense who are not happy with my criticism of Secretary Rumsfeld, the war in Iraq, other waste, fraud and abuse in the Defense Department and I guess this is their way of making their voices heard.
Full transcript below the fold:
VAN SUSTEREN: There's a story out there about this dispute over an airplane. What - according to the Washington Times, this morning, is that there is a battle between - my word "battle" - between your office and the White House, maybe the Defense Department, about what type of aircraft - I know that Speaker Hastert had Air Force aircraft after 9/11 to transport him for security reasons, since he's second in line succession, now that's your job. What's the dispute? And what's the story?
PELOSI: Well, the - this is about transportation. It's not about a plane. Myself, I wish I didn't have to have so much security, because I like my freedom of mobility, but being, second in line of succession, and since 9/11, Mr. Hastert had that transportation provided. It was thought by the sergeant of arms office, who provides for the security for Congress that, that should be continued. It's their call as to what security is needed for the speaker of the House, and they requested that.
Where the misrepresentations and mischaracterizations came from, I don't know, perhaps the Defense Department, because I've been one of their critics. But I'll say this, I know it didn't come from the president of the United States. Because he has been, if anything, very definite in saying to me, you need to have the security you have. So, this isn't about.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's about the size of the plane. I think that's what the dispute was.
PELOSI: It was the distance.
VAN SUSTEREN: The distance - oh, well, you're from California, we can't do anything about that.
PELOSI: The distance.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean.
PELOSI: Nor do we want to.
VAN SUSTEREN: Right. And Speaker Hastert was Illinois, the mid-part of the country.
PELOSI: That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: But I thought that the dispute was somewhat over whether it was the three Air Force planes, one is about the size of a 757, one's a 737, and one's about the size of a Gulf Stream, those are the three that are - seem to be in discussion.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any - I mean, is there any problem with the - - are you actually asking for a particular size?
VAN SUSTEREN: Or is it just a plane that can go a particular distance?
PELOSI: Well, no, they told me the first day that I was supposed to go that I couldn't make it across the country. And I said well, that's fine, I'm going commercial. I don't - you know, I'm not asking to go on that plane. If you need to take me there for security purposes, you're going to have to get a plane that goes across the country, because I'm going home to my family.
The - and, and - really, I'm happy to go commercial. But they want me to go on this plane, so the issue was distance, not size. And again, it's not about having a plane. It's about having transportation. These planes are used for other purposes in between - in between trips, which are, you know, take place one or twice a week, going or coming. So, it isn't about that. But there are probably those in the Department of Defense who are not happy with my criticism of Secretary Rumsfeld, the war in Iraq, other waste, fraud and abuse in the Defense Department and I guess this is their way of making their voices heard. But it has nothing to do, as I say, with the president of the United States. He has encouraged my having the security I need.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I have sort of a solution, maybe if we put on the Internet, everybody in the government who uses these planes and, you know, when they go, so people on the Internet..
VAN SUSTEREN: Because, look, you know, as a citizen, you know, I sometimes see whether it's a Republican administration or Democrat, I see people showing up at the same event on different planes, instead of carpooling on the plane, occasionally, not often, but if we put on the Internet, let the voters see, and let the voters decide.
PELOSI: Well, I'm happy to be rid of all the security that I have, as I say, I like my independence and my mobility. They have a job to do. It's not just only about protecting me, as the speaker of the House, it's about making sure they know where I am at any given moment, so, in case of a - something happening in our country. The speaker, the leaders in the House and the Senate have to be pulled together immediately, so that's part of it as well. But it's interesting to me that somebody at the Pentagon decided that they would misrepresent, mischaracterize this, but again. I know it's not coming from the president of the United States.