21 July 2007

Brian Tobin on youtube

War stories from the Tobinator:

The state department spokesperson during that incident was Mike McCurry, who later served as Bill Clinton's press secretary.

There was an awesome video of Mike breaking into laughter as he tried to explain to the state department press corps how some mollusks are not sedentary. Mike included hand gestures. That's when it got truly silly and the normally staid and professional McCurry cracked.

Sadly, that clip hasn't made it to youtube, yet.

But... there is a transcript, which includes just a hint of the hilarity at Foggy Bottom that day:
MR. McCURRY: Back here?

Q. Yes.

MR. McCURRY: Over the weekend, I believe. Anybody know differently on that? I think that's right.

Q. Can you bring us up to date on the situation involving the two U.S. fishing vessels off of Newfoundland and their seizure by the Canadian Government?

MR. McCURRY: In Canada -- the fishing vessels. There were two vessels fishing for Icelandic scallops in international waters. The United States Government does not accept the Canadian contention that the Law of the Sea Treaty gives Canada the right to exercise management outside of the exclusive economic zone -- the EEZ -- established under the Law of the Sea Treaty for this species of mollusk.

The issue arises, is this a sedentary species or a mobile species? Our view is that this scallop -- first of all, we call this a "fishing vessel." But as you certainly know, these are mollusks that we are --

Q. Have they individual names? (Laughter) Sam and Bill--

MR. McCURRY: Being that these are mollusks, we sort of believe that -- as you probably know, mollusks can swim. They swim by rapidly clapping their fluted bi-valve shells together as they propel themselves through the water. For that reason, they are not, in our view, sedentary.

Q. Have you gone on the record on any of this? Is this a serious concern?

MR. McCURRY: It's a very serious issue. Under Secretary Tim Wirth took the occasion of a visit here to the Department by a Canadian diplomat yesterday to express some very strong concerns we had about it -- what is a serious issue of the seizing of two mollusk vessels -- mollusk fishing vessels.

Q. (Inaudible)

MR. McCURRY: We could. We would be happy to arrange -- in any event, our hope is that the protest -- we had raised the issue and had been in dialogue with the Government of Canada about this prior to this incident, and we're hoping that we would find a way that we could resolve the issue diplomatically before Canada would resort to this type of action which, of course, we consider unwarranted. We do demand that they release both the vessels and the fishermen without any fine or penalty.

Q. The Canadian Embassy said today that the Ambassador is willing to drop everything and come over here at a moment's notice to discuss this if he's invited. Is he going to be invited?

MR. McCURRY: I do know that we will want to work very quickly with the Government of Canada to resolve this issue. We believe it can be resolved through dialogue and not through provocative action by one side or the other.