If anybody in the White House press room these days deserves a raise it's Helen Thomas, who continues to be the only journalist in the room to consistently uphold the duties of the Fourth Estate. Thank you Helen for keeping it real ever since landing a job at UPI all the way back in 1943.
Transcript and commentary after the jump.
Helen Thomas: No troops out from Iraq on his watch. I know. I'm talking about all troops.
Dana Perino: Well, 5700 troops will be home by the end of the year so that is some troops coming home. The President said the troop levels are going to be made by the commanders on the ground and we are going to have to talk about return on success. [return? You mean like the return of the $3.5 trillion this war is going to cost since your (mis)administration promised that Iraq was "a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."]
Helen Thomas: Why should it be? Why don't the American people have a say?
Dana Perino: The American people have had a say. They elected a President [no, they didn't] who is their commander in chief [no, he is not] and is making decisions based on what his commanders on the ground are telling him.
Helen Thomas: Do You think that was the vote from the American people?
Dana Perino: They elected a commander in chief [not!] and the President is bringing home 5700 troops based on the recommendations of his commanders on the ground and based on return on success. Hopefully in the future we can bring home more but it's going to depend on what Gen Petraeus reports and remember he will come back in March.
Helen Thomas: Why should we depend on him?
Dana Perino: Because he is the commander on the ground, Helen. He's the one who is making sure that the situation is moving —
Helen Thomas: You mean how many more people we kill?
Dana Perino: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position bestowed upon you by your colleagues to make such statements. This is. It is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.
Helen Thomas: Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?
Dana Perino: How many... We are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.
Helen Thomas: Oh, regret. It doesn't bring back a life.
So true, Helen. So true. [transcript and commentary are mine]