2/12/2005

Important questions remain about Jeff/James Gannon/Guckert

From Media Matters for America:
There remain numerous unanswered questions reporters who are serious about covering this story should be asking -- several of them raised by the "liberal bloggers" who are so frequently blamed for delving into the "personal stuff." Below are just a few:
How exactly was Gannon allowed into the press briefing room?
McClellan has said, "I don't think it's the role of the press secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials." Does he really mean to imply that if, say, incoming Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean were to ask, he would be allowed into presidential press conferences?
Would Bush call on Dean? Would he answer Dean's question?
What if Dean first paid $50 for a two-day journalism course at the right-wing Leadership Institute, like Gannon did?
What if Dean started calling himself "Harry Dixon" instead of using his real name?
Gannon apparently obtained a copy of classified documents regarding CIA operative Plame. What specific steps is President Bush taking to ensure that his administration never again illegally hands classified documents that reveal the identity of covert operatives over to someone using a pseudonym?
Given that Gannon was using a pseudonym, the administration official who apparently gave him the classified documents presumably did not know his true identity -- McClellan himself claimed he only "recently" became aware that Gannon is not his real name. What are the national security implications of someone running around the halls of the White House, using an assumed identity while talking to people with security clearance about CIA operatives?
Did Gannon's misrepresentation of his identity constitute a security breach?
Was anything illegal done -- other than the disclosure of Plame's identity in apparent violation of the law?
Did the White House use Gannon to disseminate any other controversial or illegal materials?
When did McClellan find out Gannon was using a pseudonym? When did others on the White House staff find out? Who in the press office decided to allow Gannon into briefings?
Why did Gannon use a "daily pass" nearly every day for two years, rather than obtaining a "hard pass"? Was this an "end-around" the normal process, designed to hide the fact that a partisan operative was posing as a "journalist"?
At least one reporter -- The Washington Post's Dana Milbank -- has said he believes he saw Gannon walking around with a "hard pass." Which is correct? Will the White House release any and all documents relating to Gannon's visits to the White House?
President Bush is notoriously disinclined to hold press conferences, and even more notoriously likes to befriend the reporters who cover him. The Bush White House is also well-known for scripting Bush's every move. Is it really plausible that Gannon has been covering the White House for two years, and was able to ask Bush a question at a briefing, without Bush knowing who he is?
Did Gannon ever travel with the rest of the White House press corps? Did he accompany Bush to Crawford, Texas, or on any other trips away from Washington? Did he fly on Air Force One?
Who else regularly attends White House press briefings using "daily passes"? Do any of them, like Talon, pass off White House talking points as original reporting?
Talon is looking for a replacement for Gannon; will Talon again be allowed to send a fake reporter to briefings? Will he or she be called on?

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