Veteran Scribe Thrashes Dubya's Flack
Heroine of the Week

The following is an excerpt from a press briefing given by White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on January 6:

HELEN THOMAS (Hearst columnist and longtime UPI White House correspondent): At the earlier briefing, Ari, you said that the president deplored the taking of innocent lives. Does that apply to all innocent lives in the world? And I have a follow-up.

FLEISCHER: I refer specifically to a horrible terrorist attack on Tel Aviv that killed scores and wounded hundreds. And the president, as he said in his statement yesterday, deplores in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel.

THOMAS: My follow-up is, why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?

FLEISCHER: Helen, the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends—

THOMAS: They're not attacking you.

FLEISCHER: —from a country—

THOMAS: Have they laid a glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11 years?

FLEISCHER: I guess you have forgotten about the Americans who were killed in the first Gulf War as a result of Saddam Hussein's aggression then.

THOMAS: Is this revenge, 11 years of revenge?

FLEISCHER: Helen, I think you know very well that the president's position is that he wants to avert war, and that the president has asked the United Nations to go into Iraq to help with the purpose of averting war.

In a recent speech, Thomas said, "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of preemptive war is immoral—such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It's as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam."

Additional reporting: Josh Saltzman and Rebecca Winsor

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