As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Tag Archives: Jay Carney

How Can We Trust Obama on Iran When He Was So Wrong About Syria?

Just a few years ago, President Obama said the time for talking was done, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go.

The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.

Several months later, Obama’s then-Press Secretary, the Prince of Prescience Jay Carney, said Assad was finished – through, done, I tell ya.

The fact of the matter is that the pressure on Assad continues to intensify. He’s been — he has dwindling financial resources. He has dwindling access to what he needs to continue to govern. His regime has lost control of parts of the country. There are a number of indications of the desire to depart from the regime by senior Syrian government and military officials. These are telltale signs that Assad’s future is very limited at best.

And we continue to work with the international community to do everything we can to enhance the pressure on him, to make it clear to everyone that they should not want to place a bet on the Assad regime because that is a losing bet — and it is a losing bet in pure realpolitik terms, but it’s also a losing bet, obviously, in terms of being on the right side of the people of Syria.

Well that was three years ago. If you bet on Assad, you won.

Now, Secretary of State John Kerry wants to negotiate.

But how can you negotiate with someone who isn’t there? Oh, wait, he is still there.

Now the same people who brought you the demise of Assad are bringing you the fully verifiable deal that will keep Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.

Place your bets! Except this time, your gambling with your life.

White House Stands By Earlier Criticism of Charlie Hebdo

The White House Monday refused to back away from its pre-Paris-attack criticism of the magazine Charlie Hebdo’s exercise of free speech, claiming it was meant as some kind of defense of our troops.

The criticism came from former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who on September 19, 2014, accused Charlie Hebdo of lacking “judgment.”

That puts the White House among the many in the Je suis Charlie Hebdo crowd who failed to stand up for free speech until the magazine’s cartoonists died for it.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Monday piously explained that Carney – who spoke in September 2012 after the attacks on U.S. embassies that were being blamed on an anti-Muslim video – was objecting to speech that could cause harm to American servicemen and women:

It would not be the first time that there has been a discussion in this country about the kinds of responsibilities that go along with exercising the right to freedom of speech. And in the scenario — or in the circumstances in which my predecessor was talking about this issue, there was a genuine concern that the publication of some of those materials could put Americans abroad at risk, including American soldiers at risk.

And that is something that the Commander-in-Chief takes very seriously. And the President and his spokesman was not then and will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform.

Well, the problem is, Carney never mentioned American troops. Carney did say the cartoons could provoke “violence against Americans and our diplomatic missions overseas,” but if he were so concerned about the troops, why didn’t he mention them?

The other problem is, if Carney was really referencing the troops, why did he bash the magazine’s “judgment.” How could a French satirical magazine possibly be taking into account the possible effect of its cartoons on U.S. troops?

No, this was an attempt to squelch free speech out of fear people might be insulted, and that they might get riled up. Not an effort to protect the troops.

Even taking Earnest at his word, this is dangerous talk. I have as great a concern as anyone for the safety and well being of our troops and diplomats. But are we now to be careful about what we say because some lunatics might react and try to attack Americans? Would our brave troops even want that?

What if I decided that Islamists smell like pigs who haven’t been hosed down for a month? Am I to blame if that makes them angry. Should I politely suggest a deodorant so as not to upset anyone?

As has been said many times, the very speech that is meant to be protected by the First Amendment is that which provokes and upsets.

But what Carney was talking about, and what Earnest backed up, was an effort to undermine Freedom of the Press. And critics of the Je suis Charlie Hebdo movement are correct to judge the hypocrisy of some of the marchers, who weren’t there for Charlie Hebdo before the attack and will return to political correctness and appeasement once the memory of the killings fades.

Here are Carney’s remarks, complete with derrière-covering tributes to free speech, even as he seeks to limit it. Judge for yourself.

Well, we are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory. But we’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our Constitution.

In other words, we don’t question the right of something like this to be published; we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it. And I think that that’s our view about the video that was produced in this country and has caused so much offense in the Muslim world.

Now, it has to be said, and I’ll say it again, that no matter how offensive something like this is, it is not in any way justification for violence — not in any way justification for violence. Now, we have been staying in close touch with the French government as well as other governments around the world, and we appreciate the statements of support by French government officials over the past week, denouncing the violence against Americans and our diplomatic missions overseas.

Report Indicates White House Misled Press on Prostitution Scandal

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney misled reporters in 2012 when he told them there were no specific allegations of wrongdoing against any White House staffer in the April 2012 Colombia prostitution scandal, a new report in the Washington Post suggests.

Carney East Room 3The growing recognition that the American public is routinely exposed to false and misleading statements from the White House, whether by the president or his aides, has recently prompted even mainstream journalists, among others, to question White House credibility.

According to the Post, the Secret Service told the White House specifically on Friday, April 20 that one of its staffers, a volunteer named Jonathan Dach, may have escorted a prostitute back to his hotel room in Colombia. Dach, whose father is a prominent Democratic donor, to this day denies the charge.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney falsely told reporters April 23, three days later, that there had not been any “specific allegations” against White House staffers:

There are no, to my knowledge, and have been no credible or specific allegations of misconduct by any member of the White House advance team or White House staff.

Carney repeatedly told reporters April 23 that an internal White House investigation of its staffers’ behavior in Colombia was not conducted in response to any allegation. That assertion also appears to be false, since the internal investigation was conducted the weekend of April 21-22, according to the Post, immediately after the Secret Service informed the White House of the allegations against Dach.

But Carney said on April 23:

The decision to conduct a review here, internally, was simply done out of due diligence. There are no, to my knowledge, and have been no credible or specific allegations of misconduct by any member of the White House advance team or White House staff.  But out of due diligence this review was conducted, and there is no indication of any misconduct by members of the White House advance team or staff.

Carney at another point in the April 23 briefing used more careful phrasing to describe potential allegations of inappropriate behavior by White House staff, saying there had been “no specific, credible allegations of misconduct.” This would be misleading but technically correct, since White House attorneys had supposedly come to the conclusion over the weekend that the charge against Dach was not “credible.”

But Carney later used the term quoted above, denying a “specific OR credible” charge. But the allegation was certainly specific, according to the Post:

The Secret Service first provided evidence pointing to Dach’s potential involvement in the scandal . . .  on April 20.

The information, which then-Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan gave to Ruemmler, was not detailed. It said Secret Service investigators had evidence indicating Dach registered a prostitute into his room at the Hilton Cartagena Hotel shortly after midnight on April 4. He also conveyed that Secret Service agents on the ground had information suggesting the same.

I guess it all depends on what the meaning of “or” is.

Carney’s statements may have been part of a White House attempt to cover up the possible involvement of a White House staffer in order to avoid any taint for the president during a reelection year.

The lead investigator on a separate Department of Homeland Security inspector general probe into the matter said superiors urged him to alter and delay the report because of political considerations, according to the Post:

The lead investigator later told Senate staffers that he felt pressure from his superiors in the office of Charles K. Edwards, who was then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence — and that, in the heat of an election year, decisions were being made with political considerations in mind.

“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.

Nieland later told Senate staffers that his superiors demanded that he remove from an official report references to the evidence pointing to the White House team member.

Nieland added that his superiors told him “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

The White House denies it attempted to influence the investigation.

House Oversight Committee member Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has requested documents from the White House to determine how it reached its conclusion that the charges against Dach were not credible.

Carney Ripped Apart by McCain

Starting his gig as a CNN commentator, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday ran up against something he’s not used to – an aggressive challenge, free of the protocols of a White House briefing, in which a knowledgable adversary tolerates none of his spin.

Carney, who hasn’t figured out yet that he has to make real arguments now instead of offering up preprogrammed propaganda, found his sophistry violently debunked by Sen. John McCain. McCain, who was the chief proponent the the Iraq surge strategy that pacified the country, was having none of Carney’s nonsensical Obama White House storyline about how U.S. force levels in the country didn’t matter.

Carney and McCain go way back, from Carney’s many years as a Washington reporter for Time magazine. McCain was one of Carney’s fiercest critics when the mainstream reporter he had known morphed into an unapologetic Obama apologist.

Have a look. It’s pretty compelling.

Carney Exits

After more than three years, White House Press Secretary Carney’s term as press secretary ends COB today. How you rate him as press secretary depends on your perspective.

If you are a partisan Obama supporter, then Carney did a pretty good job. He made few mistakes, aggressively and eloquently promoted the president’s agenda, and largely kept a lid on serious investigative reporting with respect to the Obama administration.

Carney 6-2014The extent of his contribution to this latter achievement is unclear. The press corps is naturally in Obama’s pocket, and with journalism stretched thin and people who might have been doing investigative reports forced to throw any junk they can find onto websites and otherwise multimedia themselves to exhaustion, the press itself holds probably the lion’s share of the fault.

Carney’s contribution was to run an operation that routinely bullied reporters with the angriest, foulest language you can imagine in an effort to squash honest journalism that might be even mildly critical of the president. Reporters like to pretend this tactic doesn’t affect them, but I think it works. For many of them, it’s easier not to deal with the nastiness.

Which brings us to Carney’s failures – surprising and disappointing in someone who devoted most of his professional career to supposedly serving the cause of free speech.

By attacking reporters, Carney acted to suppress speech. He did this in service of what he believes is a greater cause – Obama and Obama’s leftist ideology, which Carney sincerely subscribes to.

The evil twin of Carney’s attacks on free inquiry was the failure under his stewardship of the administration to provide the public with the openness Obama had promised. Rather, there was less “transparency” under this White House than any other. Much of this was not Carney’s doing, though he at the very least either abetted or acquiesced in it.

Carney 6-2014 2Under this White House, Freedom of Information requests were stymied, whistle blowers and leakers were assailed like perhaps never before, and journalists were targeted as part of criminal investigations.

Information that should have been revealed – for example, data on Obamacare registrations – was withheld from the public. Presidential press conferences were far too rare. The White House used its own photographer to “cover” the president. And worst of all, the American public was repeatedly and egregiously lied to.

Carney’s own specialty was to cling unfailingly to his limited talking points during briefings while sounding like he was doling out much more information than he was.

But unless he is the most cynical man in Washington – wouldn’t rule it out – I have to say that I am impressed that Carney is at least a true believer in what he is doing. If he was fooling us, he wouldn’t have spent so long as press secretary. It’s a grinding job and the temptation to leave and make a lot of money – not to mention see your children – is great.

Reporters tend to be, even more than they are liberals, skeptics and even cynics, and Carney obviously during his time as reporter hid a passion for liberalism. I like it when people stand for something, even if they stand for something I disagree with. So I’ll give him that.

Relations with the press are not good, though, and Obama at this point, while not subject to the probing he deserves, is getting coverage that is worse than it might be. Incoming White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is temperamentally different than Carney and has always had good relations with many reporters. We’ll see if NutraSweet works better than Saccharin.

Carney arrived at the Colbert Report Thursday night to begin promoting Jay Carney, The Former Press Secretary, Inc. I think he could have waited until after he was off the taxpayers dime to do that, but, whatever.


Video || Koffler Quizzes Carney on Bergdahl-for-Taliban Deal

I thought you might want to see this video of me tangling with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Monday.

Jay had been repeating his prepared talking points that the threat to national security of having five nasty Taliban leaders out of Guantanamo Bay had been sufficiently “mitigated.” I thought this was strikingly casual and provided precious little information about such a serious issue, so I tried to pin him down a bit.

There were reports that whatever arrangement we had made with the Qataris would last no more than a year. So I tried to get to the bottom line and see if Jay could assure Americans that these bad guys won’t go back to trying to kill us in two or three years.

Note, I asked specifically about two or three years, not “sometime after one year.” That would have given Jay a chance to say, “We haven’t said anything about a year” and try to move on.

Also, being specific about a result – “two or thee years” – is an important journalistic tactic for asking questions, which of course few journalists use. It’s also one you can apply in your own lives.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked some stray senator, “When will you announce your new bill?” and they respond, “I’m not going to discuss timing.” And then I ask “Will it be next week?” And they say, “No, probably not for about three weeks.”

Somehow, when you offer a specific possibility, it compels people to give you a specific answer. Next time your spouse says they’ll be home late, ask, “Like at 8 pm?”

Anyway, didn’t work this time. Jay stuck to his talking points, of course.

The second question I asked was in response to what struck me as an absurd contention that the exchange of five murderous Taliban leaders for a single low-ranking U.S. soldier was perfectly within the tradition of prisoner exchanges. I wanted to know when the last time such gruesome  and dangerous characters had been set loose for someone of Bergdahl’s stature.

Several people noted to me that during the questioning Jay got a little pissy and even seemed to insult my website. It wasn’t my intention to make him testy, but if he loses his cool, all the better, maybe he’ll make a mistake and say something newsworthy. And as for the website, I only regret he didn’t mention the name!

Carney in 2013: WH Will Consult with Congress on Gitmo Transfer

Just under a year ago, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney promised that any decision with respect to the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for kidnapped Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be made in consultation with Congress.

CARNEY: With regard to the transfer of Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, we have made — the United States has not made the decision to do that, though we do expect the Taliban to raise this issue in our discussion, if and when those discussions happen.

As we have long said, however, we would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress and without doing so in accordance with U.S. law.

Q    So you haven’t ruled it out?

CARNEY:  I’m simply saying that — first of all, you have to separate the two issues.  We are focused on the return  — the safe and immediate return of Sergeant Bergdahl, and we continue to use the tools at our disposal to help bring that about.

We also expect the Taliban to raise the issue of their detainees in discussions that we have with them if those discussions take place.  And at this time we’ve made no decisions about the transfer of detainees.

And in accordance with law, we would be consulting with Congress should we make any decisions about that.  So we remain committed to the closure of Guantanamo Bay, as you know.  But separate from that on these specific issues about individual detainees, that would be a process that is done in accordance with law.

Instead, the White House this week sent five dangerous former Taliban packing to Qatar without a word to lawmakers.

Carney today said Congress should have figured it out and, anyway, the White House had to move fast:

This should not have come as a surprise to members of Congress that this was possible because we had been working to secure Sgt. Bergdahl’s release for a long time . . .

It was the judgement of the team and the president that there was enough urgency here to assure that Sgt. Bergdahl was recovered . . .

Today we are being asked to believe the White House when it says the threat posed to the United States by the former detainees has been “sufficiently mitigated” by the terms of the release.

Hopefully this is true. But we’ll find out. Possibly the hard the way.

Jay Carney to Step Down as White House Press Secretary

President Obama announced today that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has resigned.

Obama, who interrupted the White House briefing as Carney was taking questions, said Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest will take his place. Carney seemed surprised by the interruption.

Carney 3Carney said he will step down soon, probably the second or third week of June. He will leave the White House but says he has not decided where he will go, though he has offers on the table..

“It’s been an amazing experience, just, so fulfilling,” Carney said, thanking the president and vice president.

Obama said Carney had come to him in April saying he wanted to leave. Asked in March about rumors he was angling for the job of ambassador to Russia, Carney said, “I have a great job that I love.”

Carney, 49, began as press secretary in February 2011 after working in the thankless job of spokesman for Vice President Joe Biden since the start of the Obama administration.

His term as press secretary has been characterized by a fairly rocky relationship with the press and accusations from many quarters that the White House was failing to live up to promises of transparency, including this week when the White House failed to reveal a lunch between Obama and Hillary Clinton. This even though Carney himself worked for years as a reporter himself, including as Washington bureau chief for Time Magazine.

Earnest has a smoother relationship with many reporters, though his ties to the press will be tested by the demands of his new, high-profile role.

Video || Carney Caught Trying to Have it Both Ways

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was called out Monday for, on the one hand, asserting that the “investigation” at the Veterans Affairs Department must continue – a key defense for not firing Secretary Shinseki – and on the other suggesting that the resignation of VA Undersecretary Robert Petzel was related to the scandal. Carney… Continue Reading

McCain: Carney has “Destroyed his Own Reputation”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday night that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has “destroyed his own reputation” with the fatuous claim that the White House email prepping Susan Rice for her post-Benghazi appearance on the Sunday talk shows had nothing to do with Benghazi. McCain seems a little shocked at the behavior of… Continue Reading

White House Suggests it Won’t Cooperate with Benghazi Panel

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today indicated the White House will refuse to cooperate with a new House committee tasked with investigating Benghazi. “We have always cooperated with legitimate oversight,” Carney said this afternoon during the daily White House briefing. Asked whether the panel qualified as “legitimate,” he said: “I think if you look at… Continue Reading

Carney: Email Was Not About Benghazi

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today sought to justify the White House decision to withhold an email describing goals for prepping then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice for the Sunday talk shows after Benghazi, saying the email actually wasn’t about Benghazi. Carney said: It was explicitly not about Benghazi. It was about the overall situation in the… Continue Reading