WH Press Briefing: Reporters Worry of Iraq Power Vacuum after Zarqawi

At today's White House press briefing, some reporters wondered if the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was actually planned by the terrorists.

QUESTION: Let me ask you this, because I suppose another way of looking at this is if somebody hadn't flipped, if somebody hadn't tipped off everybody, Zarqawi would not have been targeted. So a lot of this is dependent on another terrorist, perhaps, wanting to see Zarqawi dead so that they could move into the created vacuum.

TONY SNOW: That would be a really stupid terrorist, because the life expectancy of people who have been succeeding these guys, and the life expectancy of being Zarqawi's number two has not been very good. So if somebody was trying to tip off Zarqawi in sort of a Machiavellian attempt to re-jigger things, I think they ought to think twice because what is happening -- and we've seen this and we've heard reports of it, but I think this dramatizes it -- the Iraqi people are saying, we've had it with these guys. We've had it. We're not going to take it anymore. And that is an important step. And this is the kind of thing that can reinforce those who want to go ahead and stand up against terror in their midst.

QUESTION: One follow. Does the administration have a number two, a natural successor that you have your eye on as the inheritor of the vacuum?

TONY SNOW: General Caldwell was talking about that earlier today. Boy, I'll tell you what -- it was al-Masri, I believe.* If somebody can look that up, pull it up. But General Caldwell, in his briefing, was talking about it, and I'm not going to try to fake it for you. What we'll do is I'll have these guys look it up and I'll go through it here in just a couple of minutes. But he did have what he thought was sort of a logical follow-on, somebody who would be the logical successor, somebody who has been involved in IED operations and so on. Whether that's the logical successor, I don't know. But that's -- his word is a lot better than mine.