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The Words Behind the Controversy

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Monday, September 7, 2009

THE STATEMENT: Van Jones was listed as a signatory on a petition released by 911Truth.org on Oct. 26, 2004. It called "for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war," an investigation by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and congressional hearings into failings prior to the attacks.

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THE WALK-BACK: "In recent days some in the news media have reported on past statements I made before I joined the administration -- some of which were made years ago. If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize. As for the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever," Jones said in a Sept. 3 statement issued by the White House Council on Environmental Quality after the petition was unearthed by blogger Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.

STATEMENT: After a Feb. 11, 2009, a speech in Berkeley, Calif., Jones was asked by an audience member how Republicans were able to achieve greater legislative success with a smaller congressional majority than Democrats now have.

"The answer to that is: They're a--holes," Jones said to laughter in remarks posted on YouTube on Sept. 1 by supporters of Glenn Beck. "That's a technical political science term. And Barack Obama's not an a--hole. So, now, I will say this, I can be an a--hole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start getting a little bit uppity."

THE WALK-BACK: The comments were "clearly inappropriate," Jones said in a statement. "I apologize for the offensive words I chose to use during that speech. They do not reflect the views of this administration, which has made every effort to work in a bipartisan fashion, and they do not reflect the experience I have had since I joined the administration."

-- Garance Franke-Ruta


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