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Raw Story vs. The White House: The Saga Continues
Eric Brewer
Published: Wednesday April 16, 2008

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After I embarrassed Dana Perino last month over President Bush's claim that if we leave Iraq, al Qaeda will take over Iraq's oil, some of you speculated that she'd never call on me again. On Monday I got to test that theory.

But let's back up a minute.

After my story came out, I wondered whether the White House would continue to make that claim. So when Bush gave another speech on Iraq last Thursday, in which he announced that he was deciding to do what he had previously instructed Petraeus to advise him to do, I checked to see if he was still using the al-Qaeda-is-going-to-steal-all-the-oil argument. And what do you know, it was gone:

"If we fail there, al Qaeda would claim a propaganda victory of colossal proportions, and they could gain safe havens in Iraq from which to attack the United States, our friends and our allies."

But my victory was short-lived.

Just three hours later on Sean Hannity's radio show, Dick Cheney did it again:

Q If we pull out too early, what do you believe the consequences would be?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: [...] For us to walk away from Iraq I think would have at least that bad an effect, probably worse, because if al Qaeda were to take over big parts of Iraq, among other things, they would acquire control of a significant oil resource. Iraq has almost 100 billion barrel reserves, producing 2.5-3 million barrels of oil a day. If you take a terrorist organization like al Qaeda and give it that kind of revenue, there's no telling the amount of trouble they could get into.

I figure that it was Dick's idea in the first place. He's too fond of it to let go.

So I went in Monday to give Dana one more chance to explain how this might work. Is it really plausible that 25 million Iraqis would allow their oil wealth to be siphoned off by a few thousand foreign terrorists? Would Exxon, or Shell, or even China, really buy oil from al Qaeda?

I got a prime seat in the middle of the second row (the Washington Post reporter didn't show) and held my hand up throughout the half-hour briefing. Dana called on reporters to my right. She called on reporters to my left. She even called on a reporter sitting two rows behind me. But she didn't call on me. The AP reporter—who traditionally has the job of shutting down the briefing by saying "thank you" after the questioning has run its course—noticed that I was being ignored, and she held off for as long as she could but finally gave in. (She advised me later that I should email Cheney's office to get an answer. That's no fun.)

So now we know why White House reporters ask so many brain-numbingly boring questions at the briefings. Step out of line, and you're silenced.

The preceding article was a White House report from Eric Brewer, who will periodically attend White House press briefings for Raw Story. Brewer is also a contributor at BTC News. He was the first person to ask about the Downing Street memo at a White House briefing.