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Helen Thomas, McClellan Have Morning Clash at White House

In what is beginning to be a staple of the gaggles (morning briefings for reporters) at the White House, Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps, yesterday morning asked whether the Bush Administration would continue to "defend spying on Americans."

From her usual front-row seat at the James Brady Briefing Room, Thomas — who has covered every President from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush — has regularly fired the same question (or a variation) at White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan for weeks now. McClellan gently remonstrated to her to "read the [Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales testimony" about surveillance of phone calls by people allegedly working with Al Queda terrorists overseas.

Retired wire service reporter and syndicated pundit Thomas then launched into her signature line about "no legal justification" for the National Security Agency wiretaps on suspected terrorists. An exasperated McClellan finally asked her: "Are we at war, Helen?" She replied: "I don’t know." Whereupon McClellan said "That’s an interesting statement."

The President then turned to CBS’s newly-minted White House correspondent Jim Axelrod (who replaced John Roberts, who is now with CNN) and wondered, "Have you seen Helen before?" The briefing room exploded in laughter, and McClellan went on to take other questions.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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