Snow is expected to give an informal briefing — known as a gaggle — on Friday and hold his first televised briefing next Monday.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the White House is trying to keep Snow out of the CIA debate — perhaps this is how they planned the transition all along. But even if that’s the case, it’s a mistake not to get Snow in front of the press as soon as possible. As the editors wrote yesterday:
Goss’s sudden ouster is, at best, ill timed. He had merely scratched the problem’s surface. Further, the lack of a clear explanation for his departure is extremely harmful. It is certain to be spun as a coup by the insurgents. Such a perception will only embolden them, laying the groundwork for more leaks—and more damage to national security.
During yesterday’s press conference, Helen Thomas asked DNI John Negroponte why Goss was fired. He responded:
I wouldn’t characterize Mr. Goss’s departure in that way, Helen. Porter had talked for some time about the possibility of leaving public service. I think that the President felt this was an opportune time. He saw Porter, and I think Porter also had talked about himself being a transitional leader, transitioning from the old setup prior to intelligence reform to the new one. And the President just felt that this was a good time to appoint new leadership to carry the agenda forward and consolidate the reforms that Mr. Goss had initiated.
Negroponte’s incomplete explanation was to be expected, given that he’s the one who reportedly drove Goss out. Snow, unencumbered by such personal involvement, could elaborate. For instance, senior administration officials have already told the Washington Post that Bush wasn’t happy with the job Goss was doing. Snow could reassure us that Bush is not abandoning comprehensive reform by dumping Goss, but that Goss was dismissed for other, tactical reasons. Also, Ann Althouse pointed out that Hayden’s nomination provides an opportunity for the administration to talk about NSA terrorist surveillance (h/t to Insta). Now would be the perfect time to have a press secretary articulate and smart enough to reiterate the merits of that program.
Tony Snow is a great resource for an administration whose troubles seem to deepen every day. Why are they delaying his debut?