Chuck T Plays D For White House On Megrahi Release Letter

So there was Robert Gibbs on the White House lawn, defending to Mika Brzezinski the letter from the Obama administration saying it favored a compassionate release of the Lockerbie bomber over a prisoner transfer.  Oh, wait.  That wasn't the White House press secretary—it was Chuck Todd.  Sorry about that. But when you view the video I think you might forgive my error.  Todd certainly came across like a paid administration flack . . .

In the course of his conversation with Mika on today's Morning Joe, Todd labelled "outlandish" the depiction by the Sunday Times of London of the US position as "double-talk."  As Mika continued to press the case, suggesting the US could simply have expressed its implacable opposition to any form of release, Todd complained that it was "easy to back-seat drive" the Obama admin's handling of the matter.  Perhaps most laughably, Todd defended the Obama admin's "delicate" diplomacy by claiming "any administration" would have done the same and raising the what-if of another country trying to tell our government what to do.  You mean, like Pres. Obama's moves to close Gitmo and take other measures weakening US national security because other countries have complained about them?

Mark Halperin also went all Johnny Cochran for Pres. Obama, claiming the White House's defense of the letter is "pretty compelling."

Boos for Halperin and Todd; kudos for Mika.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I have to say just personally it seems strange this confetti celebration of him walking off the plane, and it just felt like on this side of the pond, the reaction [by the Obama admin] seemed--it's just my characterization--a little muted.

MARK HALPERIN: Let's get the whole letter and see, but I think the White House's position is pretty compelling.

BRZEZINSKI: My understanding from this letter--and we'll get it, we'll look at it--is that the United States preferred compassionate release as opposed to a prison transfer.  And that indicates that they preferred one type of release versus another, instead of [claps hands hard in emphasis] just keeping this guy in prison. 

CHUCK TODD: . . . Let's take a step back here.  Imagine another foreign government was telling our Justice Department what to do. So the fact is, I think this was a very delicate diplomatic dance that this administration, and any administration, would have been doing, which was to do this stuff as best you can, back channel, you do this.  And then you say, OK, we don't want him released, but if you release him, don't send him back to Libya.  So again, I think this is a--the way the story was written was pretty outlandish.

BRZEZINSKI: We'll get the letter. But doesn't it seem to you that perhaps there could have been a letter that says: do not release this guy? We prefer nothing.  He stays where he is, and we condemn him getting anything he wants.

TODD: It seems to be in there.  But then I'll say this.  Let me play devil's advocate. If that is what you wanted, and he gets released anyway, then do you not want every effort made that he's not sent back to Libya. You've got to sit there and play through all the scenarios of what could have happened.  It's easy to back-seat drive this.

BRZEZINSKI:  . . . The bottom line is, this is important because 200 hundred American families were destroyed by this.

TODD: Mika, what's more important is if the British government will release all of the correspondence that BP had, because that's something they are apparently refusing to do.

Let's summarize The Todd Defense:

  • We didn't dare express a strong opinion to the Brits.  Imagine another country telling us what to do!
  • The Times of London take, calling the US position "double-talk," was outlandish.
  • "Any administration" would have done what the Obama admin did.  Does Todd really think George W. Bush wouldn't have taken a tougher position?
  • Don't "back-seat drive" the administration.  Leave Barack Alone YouTube to follow.
  • Let's change the topic to BP.
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.