July 19, 2005
Pacemakers by Guidant Have Flaw
By BARRY MEIER
The Guidant Corporation, already embroiled in controversy over recalls of heart devices, alerted doctors yesterday that nine of its older pacemaker models were prone to failing. Some patients might need to have the units replaced, the company said.
The alert covers 28,000 pacemakers made from November 1997 to October 2000 and still implanted in patients. Guidant said that a component used to seal the pacemakers could degrade, allowing moisture to build up and causing the devices to fail. Such failure could cause “serious health complications” in some patients, the company said. The flaw may have contributed to one patient's death, though that is not clear.
The pacemaker alert follows Guidant's recalls in recent weeks of tens of thousands of implantable heart defibrillators. Guidant's long delays in notifying doctors about problems with some of those devices have thrown a spotlight on the issue of when and how device makers alert physicians and patients to product flaws. It has also raised questions about how the Food and Drug Administration discloses safety data it collects about medical devices.
Late yesterday, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, signaled his interest in reviewing issues surrounding the recent Guidant recalls.
In a letter to the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Mr. Grassley requested that the agency provide him with five years of annual reports filed by Guidant for the defibrillators and pacemakers that were the subject of recent company alerts or recalls. The Senate Finance Committee has previously investigated the agency's handling of several drugs, including Vioxx.
In his letter, Senator Grassley also asked agency officials to explain why they did not routinely make public such reports, which are filed annually by heart device makers for each defibrillator and pacemaker they make. An article last month in The New York Times highlighted how those annual reports contain far more detailed product-safety and performance data about heart devices than companies routinely provide to doctors. However, the F.D.A. treats the reports as confidential.
In its alert yesterday, Guidant said that doctors should consider replacing the affected pacemakers in patients who depend on the device for survival or to prevent serious health consequences. That category roughly ranges from 20 percent to 40 percent of pacemaker patients, two doctors said.
Because of their age, most of the pacemakers at issue will need to be replaced soon anyway, since their batteries are nearly drained. The company said that it would pay for the replacements.
While both pacemakers and defibrillators are implanted under the skin, they serve different purposes. A pacemaker regulates a heart that is beating too fast or too slowly. A defibrillator emits an electrical shock intended to interrupt a chaotic and deadly type of heart rhythm.
Guidant's recent spate of recalls, including the one announced yesterday, is likely to play a role in discussions of second-quarter earnings results due this week from both Guidant and Johnson & Johnson, which agreed in December to buy Guidant for $25.4 billion.
Today, Wall Street analysts are expected to ask Johnson & Johnson executives, when they discuss the company's earnings, if Guidant's recent problems might affect the timing or price of Johnson & Johnson's planned acquisition.
Asked for comment yesterday, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, which is based in New Brunswick, N.J., referred to a statement made in mid-June in which the company said it would close the Guidant deal this quarter, though it added that it viewed Guidant's product problems as “serious matters.”
The deal is valued at $76 a share to Guidant holders. But in recent weeks, the value of Guidant's stock has fluctuated sharply as investors have speculated on whether the deal's price will be revised. Yesterday, Guidant shares fell $2.10 to close at $67.31 a share, down 3 percent.
On Thursday, Guidant is set to announce second-quarter results. Those results will provide the first look at whether the company has suffered financial damage as a result of its recent recalls.
Analysts are split about how the steady beat of bad news from Guidant will affect its market share in the long term.
Guidant has been under scrutiny since late May when it was disclosed that the company failed to notify doctors for three years that an electrical defect in one defibrillator model could cause it to short-circuit when needed to save a patient's life. The company continued to sell units with the potential electrical flaw even after it began producing improved versions of the same model in which the problem had been fixed.
The F.D.A. is investigating how Guidant handled reviews of its products' dangers. Since late May, the company has issued alerts or recalled 11 models of defibrillators.
Yesterday, an F.D.A. spokeswoman said the agency was aware that Guidant had issued the pacemaker alert to doctors and that it was evaluating the matter. Guidant said it expected the F.D.A. to designate the alert as a recall, a formal classification that involves the type of physician notification that Guidant is already making.
A recall does not mean that a device should be removed. Instead, patients are typically advised to discuss with their doctors the risk posed by a device compared with the risk posed by the surgical procedure needed to replace it.
Several doctors said yesterday that they would probably recommend that pacemaker-dependent patients have the units replaced.
“To me, that is the conservative move,” said Dr. Eric N. Prystowsky, a heart specialist in Indianapolis who is also a medical adviser to Guidant. Nine older pacemaker models are involved. They are the Pulsar Max, the Pulsar, the Discovery, the Meridian, the Pulsar Max II, the Discovery II, the Virtus Plus II, the Intellis II and the Contak TR. The company said that the units, which are of an earlier design, have not been implanted for the last four years.
Guidant said it had identified 69 devices that may have had the seal problem, out of some 78,000 devices in which that component was used. Currently, about 28,000 of those units are still implanted in patients, with 18,000 of them in the United States.
In 20 known cases, the problem caused pacemakers to fail, and in 5 such instances, patients blacked out, apparently because of inadequate blood flow. In two other instances, the flaw may have caused a pacemaker to keep pacing at a high rate.
In one such case, that flaw may have contributed to a patient's death. However, because the unit was not returned to Guidant for inspection, the company said it was not clear if the death was related to the device or to the patient's health problems.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
In Iraq war, justice for the savvy, not all.
By Scott Herhold
It took serendipity for Cyrus Kar's sister to learn that the aspiring filmmaker was being held in Iraq by American forces. But it was no accident when he was released. That took a push on the levers of power.
A week after the 44-year-old San Jose State University graduate was booked into a detention camp near Baghdad, a Red Cross worker called Kar's sister, Anna, who happened to work for the Red Cross in Nairobi, Kenya.
The colleague told Anna that he had just seen her brother in Iraq. ``I said, `Oh, great, what a coincidence that you met him over there,'' Anna Kar told the New York Times.
The colleague straightened her out. He hadn't just bumped into Kar, a Navy veteran who had gone to Iraq to film a documentary. The Red Cross worker had visited Kar officially at Camp Cropper, an American military jail.
That news — and a call from Kar himself to his aunt in Los Angeles the same day — launched the family on a six-week quest to free the filmmaker from the suspicions of American military authorities.
They succeeded last weekend, when Kar and his cameraman were released. But his saga reveals two truths about our Iraq misadventure.
First, we have more to fear from bureaucracy than from outright cruelty by American forces. Second, justice in the war on terror often depends on who is the most savvy.
``The lesson here is he had a family who knew what do to and they called us to get involved,'' said Mark Rosenbaum, the executive director of the ACLU Southern California Chapter, which filed suit to free Kar. ``He was very fortunate.''
Born in Tehran but raised in Washington state, Kar got a degree in marketing at San Jose State while moonlighting as a bartender. For much of the '90s, he worked in the valley's electronics industry.
After the collapse of the boom, he moved to Los Angeles and pursued a long-cherished project: a film on Cyrus the Great, an early Persian ruler known for his progressiveness.
``His goal of making the documentary was his full-time job,'' said his cousin Shahrzad Folger in a court declaration.
That passion led Kar this May to Iraq, where he hoped to film archeological sites at Babylon, an ancient city that Cyrus conquered in 538 BC. On his first day in Iraq, May 17, Kar and his cameraman climbed into the wrong taxi. It was stopped by Iraqi authorities, who found several washing machine timers in the trunk. The timers are commonly used in bombs.
Kar and his cameraman protested that they knew nothing about the timers, that they were merely passengers. To no avail. They were both put in jail. And the FBI launched an investigation of the filmmaker, searching his Los Angeles apartment and seizing his personal computer.
His family knew nothing of this until a week later, when Kar called his aunt and the Red Cross worker called Nairobi. In some ways, the real story is how they responded.
Kar's cousin Folger, a University of Southern California graduate, took control of the effort. She called Sen. Barbara Boxer's office and the Navy. She called the State Department. She even tried a New York number for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. All without much result.
An FBI investigator assured the family in mid-June that Kar had been cleared, passing a lie detector test. But when he still wasn't released, Folger contacted the ACLU.
And it was through a habeas corpus lawsuit — literally, produce the body — that the case got attention. When the story ran on the front page of the New York Times last week, you had the sense that the family had touched the real levers of power. Kar was released not long afterward.
Kar told reporters that although he nothing against U.S. forces, he had been treated as a ``mushroom'' — thrown into a dark spot, fed garbage, forgotten by the bureaucracy. His family knew enough to call the right people. But what about folks who aren't as savvy?
Q Does the President stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a CIA operative?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren't going to comment on it while it is ongoing.
Q Excuse me, but I wasn't actually talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the President said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak, to press of information. And I just want to know, is that still his position?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that's why I said that our policy continues to be that we're not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium. The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium. And so that's why we are not going to get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation, or questions related to it.
Q Scott, if I could — if I could point out, contradictory to that statement, on September 29th, 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one who said, if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired. And then on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation is when the President made his comment that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved. So why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, “We're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation”?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. That's something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow. And that's why we're continuing to follow that approach and that policy.
Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.
Q. So could I just ask, when did you change your mind to say that it was okay to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think maybe you missed what I was saying in reference to Terry's question at the beginning. There came a point when the investigation got underway when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be their — or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing. I think that's the way to be most helpful to help them advance the investigation and get to the bottom of it.
Q Scott, can I ask you this; did Karl Rove commit a crime?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than we're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.
Q Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003 when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, “I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this” — do you stand by that statement?
MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as well.
Q Scott, I mean, just — I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation —
Q Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish —
Q No, you're not finishing — you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
Q Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.
Go ahead, Terry.
Q Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said — October 10th, 2003, “I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this.” From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not a correct characterization Terry, and I think you are well aware of that. We know each other very well, and it was after that period that the investigators had requested that we not get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation. And we want to be helpful so that they can get to the bottom of this, because no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. I am well aware of what was said previously. I remember well what was said previously. And at some point, I look forward to talking about it. But until the investigation is complete, I'm just not going to do that.
Q Do you recall when you were asked —
Q Wait, wait — so you're now saying that after you cleared Rove and the others from that podium, then the prosecutors asked you not to speak anymore, and since then, you haven't?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation, and I'm just not going to respond any further.
Q When did they ask you to stop commenting on it, Scott? Can you peg down a date?
MR. McCLELLAN: Back at that time period.
Q Well, then the President commented on it nine months later. So was he not following the White House plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, I appreciate your questions. You can keep asking them, but you have my response.
Go ahead, Dave.
Q We are going to keep asking them. When did the President learn that Karl Rove had had a conversation with the President — with a news reporter about the involvement of Joseph Wilson's wife and the decision to send —
MR. McCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions.
Q When did the President learn that Karl Rove had —
MR. McCLELLAN: I've responded to the questions, Dick.
Q After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the President's word that anybody who was involved would be let go?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.
Q And a follow-up. Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the Deputy Chief of Staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.
Q. Scott, there's a difference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action —
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Goyal.
Q. Can I finish, please?
MR. McCLELLAN: You can come — I'll come back to you in a minute. Go ahead, Goyal.
Q. Scott, today also the President spoke about the war on terrorism and also, according to — report, there was bombings in London and also bombings in India, and at both places, al Qaeda was involved. According to the India report and press reports, a Pakistani television said that Osama bin Laden is there alive and they have spoken with him, and his group is still — as far as terrorism around the globe is concerned. So now the major bombings after 9/11 took place in London, and more are about to come, according to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. They are still — and again, the President is doing a great job as far as fighting against terrorism is concerned. But where do we stand now, really? Where do we go from London, as far as terrorism is concerned? How far we can go after Osama bin Laden now to catch him? Because he's still in Pakistan.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what occurred in London is a grim reminder that we are at war on terrorism. We are waging a comprehensive war on terrorism. You heard the President talk earlier today to the FBI personnel and others who are at Quantico, and the President talked about our global war on terrorism. He talked about our strategy for taking the fight to the enemy, staying on the offensive, and working to spread freedom and democracy to defeat the ideology of hatred that terrorists espouse.
And the President pointed back to the 20th century. He pointed out that in World War II, freedom prevailed over fascism and Nazism. And in the Cold War, freedom prevailed over communism. Freedom is a powerful force for defeating an ideology such as the one that the terrorists espouse. And that's why it's so important to continue working to advance freedom and democracy in the broader Middle East. And that's what we will continue to do. And the President also talked about the great progress we've made at home to protect the home front.
The families and friends of those who lost their lives in London are — continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. We know what it's like to be attacked on our soil. And that's why the President made a decision that we were going to take the fight to the enemy to try to disrupt plots and prevent attacks from happening in the first place. And that's exactly what we are doing. But we're also going to work with the free world to support the advance of freedom and democracy in a dangerous region of the world. For too long we ignored what was going on in the Middle East. We accepted and tolerated dictatorships in exchange for peace and stability, and we got neither. As the President said, free nations are peaceful societies. And that's why it's so important that we continue to support the advance of freedom, because that's how you ultimately defeat the ideology of hatred and oppression that terrorists espouse.
Carl, go ahead. I'll come to you, David, in a second.
Q. Does the President continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, these are all questions coming up in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation. And you've heard my response on this.
Q. So you're not going to respond as to whether or not the President has confidence in his Deputy Chief of Staff?
MR. McCLELLAN: Carl, you're asking this question in the context of an ongoing investigation. And I would not read anything into it other than I'm simply not going to comment on an ongoing —
Q. Has there been — has there been any change —
MR. McCLELLAN: — investigation.
Q. Has there been any change or is there a plan for Mr. Rove's portfolio to be altered in any way?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you have my response to these questions.
Go ahead. Sarah, go ahead.
Q. A secret British memo says plans are underway for a significant troop withdrawal from Iraq early next year. Does the President agree with those plans? And even though he doesn't want to give an exact date —
MR. McCLELLAN: Who? Who has a plan? I'm sorry.
Q. With the plans of the — a secret British memo says plans are underway for a significant troop withdrawal from Iraq early next year. Does the President agree with those plans, even though he doesn't want to give an exit date? Is there White House and Pentagon pressure to draw down U.S. troop levels in Iraq as soon as possible?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're referring to reports of a British memo talking about reduction in troop forces. First of all, the military always plans for all contingencies. And that's something our military is always looking at — what are the various contingencies, and how do we meet our commitments and complete the mission. The President has made it clear that we are going to complete the mission, and then our troops will return home with the honor that they deserve.
We always look to — the President always looks to his commanders on the ground to make assessments in terms of what troops levels are needed, and the commanders on the ground will have the troops that they need to complete the mission. But the commanders have said that that will be based on the conditions on the ground, it will be based on circumstances on the ground, so you're always looking at the circumstances on the ground.
Now, one part of our strategy for victory in Iraq is to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. As we stand up the Iraqi forces, we will stand down coalition and American forces. And the President talked about that again today. That's part of our two-track strategy for succeeding in Iraq. And what you're seeing now is that the number of Iraqi forces that are trained and equipped continues to go up. They are the largest contingent providing for security in Iraq. And we continue to expand those forces. But not only are we expanding the numbers, we're strengthening their capability. And the commanders have talked about that, as well. So there's good progress being made there. The President referenced some of that in his remarks today.
Now I'll go back to David. Go ahead.
Q. There's a difference between commenting publicly on an action and taking action in response to it. Newsweek put out a story, an email saying that Karl Rove passed national security information on to a reporter that outed a CIA officer. Now, are you saying that the President is not taking any action in response to that? Because I presume that the prosecutor did not ask you not to take action, and that if he did, you still would not necessarily abide by that; that the President is free to respond to news reports, regardless of whether there's an investigation or not. So are you saying that he's not going to do anything about this until the investigation is fully over and done with?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the President has previously spoken to this. This continues to be an ongoing criminal investigation. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States. And we're just not going to have more to say on it until that investigation is complete.
Q. But you acknowledge that he is free, as President of the United States, to take whatever action he wants to in response to a credible report that a member of his staff leaked information. He is free to take action if he wants to.
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're asking questions relating to an ongoing investigation, and I think I've responded to it.
Q. Scott, since President William Howard Taft became Chief Justice after his presidency, you would not rule out the President nominating former law school professor Bill Clinton to the Supreme Court, would you? And if you wouldn't, we can report that President Clinton is under consideration, can't we?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's the first time I've heard that name suggested. I know there are a lot of names being suggested out there, and you know that I'm not going to get into speculating about any particular names.
Q. One follow-up. Considering the widespread interest and the absolutely frantic Democrat reaction to Karl Rove's excellent speech to conservatives last month, does the President hope that Karl will give a lot more speeches?
MR. McCLELLAN: He continues to give speeches. He was traveling this weekend talking about the importance of strengthening Social Security. And he has continued to go out and give speeches.
Let me back up, though. You brought up the Supreme Court, and I would like to update you, in terms of where we are in terms of consultations with the Senate, because the White House consultations have been wide and deep with the United States Senate. I think you heard Senator Hatch yesterday talk about how, in his 29 years in the United States Senate, he has not seen anything like this when it comes to the level of consultation that is going on. It is unprecedented, in his words, and he's certainly been around the Senate for a long time to see the type of consultations that go on.
But we have reached out to more than 60 senators now, and we have actually consulted with most of those. We are continuing those outreach calls and meetings to listen to what senators have to say and hear what their views are. The President —
Q. Did you try to reach all the senators?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has reached out, himself. The President looks forward to meeting tomorrow with four distinguished leaders in the Senate. He will be listening to what their views are. The President is not prejudging anything. He wants to hear what their views are and hear what they have to say as we move forward on a Supreme Court nominee. The President —
Q. Does he want to hear names, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President welcomes people suggesting names. That's part of the consultation process. But not only are we going to consult before the nomination is made, but we'll continue to consult once the nomination is made.
We've also consulted with more than half of the Democratic conference in the United States Senate. We've spoken with every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And we are continuing that outreach as we speak. A number of White House staffers have been reaching out to individual members, and the President is going to be sitting down and meeting with those four leaders tomorrow.
Q. What does he think of Specter — what does he think of Specter suggesting O'Connor as Chief?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, Les, there are going to be a lot of suggestions made. I'm just not going to get into speculating about potential nominees. The President takes this responsibility very seriously. And that's why he is going through a deliberate and thorough process. That's why he has instructed us to reach out to senators and get their views and hear what they have to say about a potential nominee.
The President hopes that we can move forward in a dignified and civilized way. You heard him express that. It's important to elevate the discourse as we move forward. The American people want this nomination process to be something that we can all be proud of. And the President is going to select the nominee who meets the criteria that he outlined — that is someone of high intellect, someone of integrity, someone who — someone of great legal ability and someone who will faithfully interpret our Constitution and our laws and not try to make law from the bench.
Q. Will the President discuss his names with Democrats, as well, and get their thoughts on those names?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, April. Go ahead.
Q. Scott, what was the President's interaction today with Karl Rove? Did they discuss this current situation? And understanding that Karl Rove was the architect of the President's win for the second term in the Oval Office, how important is Karl Rove to this administration currently?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is coming at it from —
Q. It has nothing to do with what you just said.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is still coming at the same question relating to reports about an ongoing investigation, and I think I've responded to it.
Q. Who is Karl Rove as it relates to this administration?
MR. McCLELLAN: Do you have questions on another topic?
Q. No, no, no, no. Who is Karl Rove as it relates to this current administration?
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate the question, April. I think I've responded.
Go ahead, Connie.
Q. Is the President going to make any outreach to conservative groups on the Supreme Court nominee and listen to their point of view at all?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we are listening to what others have to say, not only in the United States Senate, but outside, as well. And there are a lot of people expressing their views right now.
Q. — seemed to get annoyed last week —
MR. McCLELLAN: I wouldn't try to label anything.
Q. Scott, I think you're barrage today in part because we — it is now clear that 21 months ago, you were up at this podium saying something that we now know to be demonstratively false. Now, are you concerned that in not setting the record straight today that this could undermine the credibility of the other things you say from the podium?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm going to be happy to talk about this at the appropriate time. Dana, you all — you and everybody in this room, or most people in this room, I should say, know me very well and they know the type of person that I am. And I'm confident in our relationship that we have. But I will be glad to talk about this at the appropriate time, and that's once the investigation is complete. I'm not going to get into commenting based on reports or anything of that nature.
Q. Scott, at this point, are we to consider what you've said previously, when you were talking about this, that you're still standing by that, or are those all inoperative at this point?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you're still trying to come at this from a different angle, and I've responded to it.
Q. Are you standing by what you said previously?
MR. McCLELLAN: You've heard my response.
Q. The six-party talks are finally to be resumed on July 27th. The United States policy has been to demand complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of nuclear weapon by the North Korea to ensure nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. If North Korea does not agree to that, what would happen to the six-party talks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, we are pleased that North Korea is coming back to the talks. The five parties put a proposal on the table, and we believe it's now time to make progress on what we outlined. It's important for North Korea to return to the talks prepared to talk in a serious way about how to move forward on that proposal. The goal is not for North Korea to come back to the talks; the goal is a denuclearized peninsula. That's a goal that we all share. And we need to make progress toward that goal. That's why it's important that when North Korea comes back, that they are prepared to respond to the proposal and move forward in a serious way to make progress toward that goal.
In the discussions recently with North Korea, they have expressed a commitment to a denuclearized peninsula and making progress toward that goal. These meetings or this upcoming six-party talks is a way to move forward toward that goal. And we want to move forward in a serious way.
Q. It is reported the United States would offer some new incentives to the North Korea. Would you tell us, what is the contents of new —
MR. McCLELLAN: I think any such impression is wrong. We have put a proposal on the table along with the other four parties in the talks. That is a proposal that was — it's a serious proposal. It was put on the table by the five parties for North Korea to consider and respond to. Now North Korea is committed to coming back to the talks with a date certain. And when they come back later this month, we want them to be prepared to talk in a serious way about how to move forward on that proposal. That's the proposal that is on the table. It was a proposal that was outlined to North Korea in the last round of talks over a year ago by the other five parties.
Go ahead, Alexis.
Q. When the leak investigation is concluded, does the President believe it might be important for his credibility, the credibility of the White House, to release all the information voluntarily that was submitted as part of the investigation, so the American public could see what the — what transpired inside the White House at the time?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is an investigation being overseen by a special prosecutor. And I think those are questions best directed to the special prosecutor. Again, this is an ongoing matter; I'm just not going to get into commenting on it further at this time. At the appropriate time, when it's complete, then I'll be glad to talk about it at that point.
Q. Have you in the White House considered whether that would be optimum to release as much information and make it as open a process —
MR. McCLELLAN: It's the same type of question. You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation, and I'm not going to do that.
Q. I'm actually talking about the communication strategy, which is a little different.
MR. McCLELLAN: Understood. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And that's what he expects people in the White House to do.
Q. And he would like to that when it is concluded, cooperate fully with —
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've already responded.
Q. Scott, was it — who in the investigation made this request of the White House not to comment further about the investigation? Was it Mr. Fitzgerald? Did he make the request of you —
MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, you can ask — you can direct those questions to the special prosecutors. I think probably more than one individual who's involved in overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. I think we all want to see the prosecutors get to the bottom of this matter. The President wants to see the prosecutors get to the bottom of this matter. And the way to help them do that is to not get into commenting on it while it is ongoing.
Q. Was the request made of you, or of whom in the White House?
MR. McCLELLAN: I already responded to these questions.
Q. According to the Gallup Poll, 62 percent of the American people believe that a terrorist attack like the one we saw in London could happen here. In the President's speech today, we haven't heard anything new. What his plan exactly to protect the American people?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's exactly what he outlined in his remarks earlier today. It's a comprehensive strategy. We are working on multiple fronts to protect the American people. As he said, the best way to defend the American people is to stay on the offense and take the fight to the enemy. That's exactly what we are doing.
You see, the terrorists have been carrying out attacks for years. They felt that the civilized world would only respond in a very limited way. We saw the attacks back in '83 on the Marine barracks in Lebanon. We saw the attacks on — or the attack on the World Trade Center back in 1993. We saw the attacks on our embassies back in '98. They've certainly carried out attacks in other parts of the civilized world, as well.
The President saw the attacks of September 11th and said we are going to take the fight to the enemy. We are going to wage a comprehensive war, and we are going to see it through. The enemy will be defeated. And the way we will ultimately defeat the enemy is to defeat their hateful ideology. And you do that by spreading freedom because free societies are peaceful societies, as the President said.
Bob, go ahead.
Q. Yes, in your dealings with the special counsel, have you consulted a personal attorney?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'm just not going to say anything further. I expressed all I'm going to say on this matter from this podium.
Q. How does the uncertainty over Chief Justice Rehnquist affect the President's selection of a replacement for Justice O'Connor?
MR. McCLELLAN: How does the speculation about another vacancy?
Q. How does the uncertainty about Chief Justice Rehnquist affect the process?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President is moving forward to fill the vacancy. He spent time on his trip looking over the background materials of potential nominees and some of their key rulings or decisions. The President has been talking with senior staff — I know he visited with Andy Card about it on the trip, as well — and talking to them about potential nominees and the process for moving forward to name a nominee.
We are prepared for additional vacancies, if they should occur. This is something that we have prepared for, for quite some time at the White House. But I'm not aware of any announcement that's been made on an additional vacancy at this point.
Q. Scott, voting rights reauthorization. I understand the President is for voting rights reauthorization, but he still wants to study portions of it. It sounds kind of contradictory. Could you explain what that means, as it's up for renewal?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. As you point out, it's up of reauthorization in 2006. The President does support reauthorization. That process is getting underway in Congress. And as it works its way through Congress, the White House will look at and consider any improvements to strengthen it. And that's — that's really where it stands at this point.
Q. Well, what does he think could strengthen it? What tweaks is he thinking of right now —
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that's something we'll look at. There are suggestions that I'm sure people are going to make as we move forward, and we'll look at and consider those suggestions. The President also met with the Congressional Black Caucus and said he would take their views into account as we move forward, as well.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases ... 1-3.html#2
New York Times, July 27, 2005
From the road, it is barely possible to see the home where Ari Fleischer lives. Tucked away behind a secured fence and a thicket of shrubbery (never say ”bushes“), Mr. Fleischer, the former White House press secretary, is right where he wants to be these days: nearly invisible.
Mr. Fleischer, as White House spokesman, delivered the White House pronouncements about the Iraq war in the weeks after the invasion began in March 203. But he was never part of Mr. Bush's inner circle, and he was not the only member of the Bush communications team involved in trying to counter Mr. Wilson's critique of prewar intelligence.
Ari Fleischer's book wrote:
A controversy raged over the accuracy of a claim the president had made in his State of the Union Address concerning Iraq's efforts to obtain uranium from Africa [and so] for more than 45 minutes, the press and I enjoyed our last clash.
Greg Palast writing for Slate.com
Florida is the only state paying a private company that promises to ”cleanse" voter rolls. The state signed a $4 million contract with DBT in 1998 (since 1999 a division of ChoicePoint of Atlanta) to create the scrub list, called the central voter file, which was mandated by a 1998 state voter-fraud law. *** Florida paid DBT $4.3 million over three years to help identify felons illegally registered to vote, replacing a company that had charged the state only $5,700 per year for this work ... because the giant database operator, which aids the FBI on manhunts, offered to verify the accuracy of the list using several of its 1,200 databases [and] by telephone calls . . . . But, with the state's permission, DBT skipped those costly cross-checks. Last February, when asked to explain why DBT was paid for verification work not done, Florida Elections Division chief Clayton Roberts ended an agreed-upon interview with this reporter, locked himself in his office, and called in state troopers to remove this reporter from the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee.
”He came down and met with the governor briefly and shared with him some of his thoughts on what he believed the governor's responsibilities were after a presidential election, a presidential election in dispute. There were several experts, including professors, scholars, constitutional experts who came down to Florida at that time and Judge Roberts was one of them.“
Justice Souter in MGM v. Grokster
The Ninth Circuit [concluded that] distribution of a commercial product capable of substantial noninfringing uses could not give rise to contributory liability for infringement unless the distributor had actual knowledge of specific instances of infringement and failed to act on that knowledge. The fact that the software was capable of substantial noninfringing uses in the Ninth Circuit's view meant that Grokster and StreamCast were not liable, because they had no such actual knowledge, owing to the decentralized architecture of their software. The court also held that Grokster and StreamCast did not materially contribute to their users' infringement because it was the users themselves who searched for, retrieved, and stored the infringing files, with no involvement by the defendants beyond providing the software in the first place.
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