Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 2/3/2010

By Jonathan Blakely

Feb 3, 2010 3:18pm

TAPPER:  Were Admiral Blair and FBI Director Mueller not supposed to say in the hearing yesterday that Abdulmutallab was still talking?  Was that inadvertent, sharing that information?

DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY BILL BURTON:  You would have to ask them about what was inadvertent and not inadvertent.  We feel like we've done a good job at sharing with the American people what we're doing to keep them safe and we're going to continue to do that.

TAPPER:  But my impression is that the reason that the briefing happened last night was because this information was starting to get out there, so the administration wanted to share the story to correct the record, but also because the information has already been disclosed that  he was cooperating again.  And my impression is that Blair and Mueller were the ones who let that information be known, unless, unless there's some other story…
  
(CROSSTALK)

BURTON:  Well, as I said, there's a lot of information that's getting out there from all corners.  There was importance in contextualizing some of that information that was out there from the White House.  But I don't agree with your characterization of their testimony.  But we do feel like we did a good job of letting folks know exactly what we're up to.
  
TAPPER:  I don't think I characterized.  I think I just asked –
  
BURTON:  Seemed like a characterization.
  
TAPPER: Well, the other question I have has to do with a statement President Obama made last week when he was speaking to  Republican retreat, the House Republican Conference.  He said — he was referring to the "stray cats and dogs" in the health care legislation and he said, as examples — he said, quote, "We said from the start it was going to be important for us to be consistent in saying to people, if you want to keep the health insurance, you've got to keep it, and you're not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision- making.  And I think that some of the provisions that got snuck in might have violated that pledge." And he said that you guys were in the process of eliminating those provisions.  What are those provisions?
  
BURTON:  I'm not sure.  I'll have to get back to you.

(LATER)

TAPPER:  I'm sorry, Major, but whether it's Brennan's letter to the Hill, Holder's letter to McConnell today, the briefing yesterday — there's been a much more aggressive case being made by the White House and the administration on how you guys are waging the war on terror and fighting for national security. What changed in the last couple days to prompt this reaction?
  
BURTON:  I don't know if I necessarily agree that it's a much more aggressive case being made.  The president has made speeches about Afghanistan.  Holder's been out there.  Brennan's been out there.  I think that we've seen a pretty coordinated effort to make sure that the American people know what's happening inside the administration and how hard the president is working to keep them safe.

-jpt

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