Q I’d like you to clear up, once and for all, the ambiguity about torture. Can we get a straight answer? The President says we don’t do torture, but Cheney —At least lie to me. Tell me a big fat whopper. Insult my intelligence as a member of the public. Just don't not answer. I can imagine poor Scotty at the podium looking plaintively at dear old Helen with big puppy dog eyes trying to communicate non-verbally "Of course goddamn Cheney asked for an exception, but I can't say that because, well then I'd get fired and have to spend the next three years as a talking-head trying not to laugh at Tucker Carlson's fucking bowtie."
MR. McCLELLAN: That’s about as straight as it can be.
Q Yes, but Cheney has gone to the Senate and asked for an exemption on —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he has not. Are you claiming he’s asked for an exemption on torture? No, that’s —
[verbal sparring ensues]
Q That’s not the answer I’m asking for —
MR. McCLELLAN: It is an answer [my favorite line, BTW. I think a little Col. Jessop would have gone a long way for Scotty right here. YOU CAN'T HANDLE AN ANSWER]— because the American people want to know that we are doing all within our power to prevent terrorist attacks from happening. There are people in this world who want to spread a hateful ideology that is based on killing innocent men, women and children. We saw what they can do on September 11th —
[more obfuscation, stumbling and non-responsiveness]
Q So then why is the Vice President continuing to lobby on this issue? If you're very happy with the laws on the books, what needs change?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you asked me -- you want to ask questions of the Vice President's office, feel free to do that. We've made our position very clear, and it's spelled out on our website for everybody to see.
Q We don't need a website, we need you from the podium.
MR. McCLELLAN: And what I just told you is what our view is.
Q But Scott, do you see the contradiction --
MR. McCLELLAN: Jessica, go ahead.
Alternatively, if you think that torture is indeed needed for guys like Khalid Shayk Muhammed, I'm willing to listen. But don't pretend its not happening. Shades of "We have surrounded them in their tanks" here....