Looks like Dana Perino is already auditioning for a job at Fox News! Who'd a thunk it? During a panel discussion held at the Brookings Institute on Dec. 18, 2008 both Perino and former Clinton spokesperson Mike McCurry are asked this by Garrett Mitchell:
I want to ask a question that comes to the point about one never lies. One never misrepresents from the podium. And I want to use two examples from the Clinton administration and the Bush administration and I hope that the question will be viewed as a positive attempt to get at something but I won't pretend it's an easy one. There was a long period of time when the President, when President Clinton was maintaining that things that happened, didn't happen. I don't think I need to go into the details.
And I believe that a large chunk of the American public knew that was the case. I would say the same thing is true with President Bush on, on, why don't I limit it to issues relating to whether the United States was involved in torture, etc., where the official point of view from these two White Houses was not true. The perception in the public was "We don't believe that" and as it turns out the pubic was right. And my question is how then does, it must be extraordinarily difficult for a press secretary to be in a situation where as I've described it, you're free to disagree that description, but I'm interested to know, how do you, how do you negotiate, how do you navigate the fundamental commitment that you have not to dissemble from the podium, not to mislead and yet be forced to deal with a situation where it is, it is clear that the truth is not forthcoming from the White House.
Mike McCurry responds with some regrets that he could not have been more forthcoming from the podium during the Lewinsky scandal but Ms. Perino still has her talking points in order.
I couldn't disagree with you more. I think that the record on this will show that the administration sought and got legal opinions to allow interrogations of hardened terrorists who knew information that could lead to other attacks on our country. And 9-11 changed this President in a way that none of us can understand. When you're responsible and you take a solemn oath to protect the United States citizens and 3000 of your fellow citizens die in one day because 19 men flew airplanes into buildings, he swore to the American people that he would do everything he needed to do to protect this country and what he did was legal.
I think that some people unfortunately have conflated, well you can disagree with me and shake your head but I'm telling you that the legal opinions were there and Sec. Rice said the same. President Bush has said that. And I believe that the record will show it. And I have no problem standing up at the podium and saying "Yes, there was interrogation of hardened terrorists who were determined to kill Americans". I have absolutely no problem with it at all.
I do think that some people conflate the atrocities at Abu Ghraib which was not the policy of the United States. These were wayward flag officers. It was not the policy of the United States and I see heads shaking in this room but I ask you to go back and look. That was not something that President Bush authorized. It was not something discussed in the National Security Council. And those soldiers paid a price for their mistakes and so did America. But that was not the policy of the United States and I have no problem standing up and saying it.
So let's just forget about the dozens of secret meetings held by the principal Bush advisers approving the interrogation techniques. It was just a few bad apples. Not any kind of administration policy. I'm so glad to know that you and your complete lack of conscience can sleep easy at night with no care what so ever that you're a lying hack.