Well it took some badgering, but State Department spokesman Mark Toner conceded as much yesterday. Apparently this was the work of the great Matt Lee of AP.
QUESTION: Slightly related, on the Gaza flotilla, are you concerned at all that there seem – that some of these ships appear to be sabotaged?
MR. TONER: I really don’t have any comment on that. I’ve seen the press reports and haven’t had any other confirmation beyond that.
QUESTION: So it wouldn’t bother you at all if this was happening?
MR. TONER: I just can’t speak to whether – the veracity, I guess, of these claims that they’ve been sabotaged. Our opinion – that’s been stated very clearly from the State Department, both from the Secretary down to this podium – is that these flotillas are a bad idea, and there’s other ways to get this kind of assistance to the people of Gaza.
QUESTION: So preventing the flotilla from leaving by a —
MR. TONER: I didn’t say – I am in no way condoning any sabotage of these vessels.
QUESTION: Well, are —
MR. TONER: But I’m saying these vessels, these flotillas, in and of themselves, are not a good idea.
QUESTION: Well, can you say that you would be opposed to anyone trying to sabotage these – trying to sabotage these ships?
MR. TONER: Again —
QUESTION: It’s my understanding that you’re concerned about the safety of everyone involved —
MR. TONER: Precisely.
QUESTION: — and that if there’s someone running around and trying to —
MR. TONER: Precisely. We’re concerned. This is about —
QUESTION: — sabotaging these ships, that’s a safety issue.
MR. TONER: This is about people’s safety. Again, I just – it’s hard for me to speak to because we don’t have any independent confirmation these ships have actually been sabotaged. We’ve just seen press reports and what these flotilla representatives have said. But certainly, we don’t want to see – you’re absolutely right; our emphasis is on the safety of the individuals involved.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Yesterday it was the Greek ship, Giuliano; today it was the Irish ship. So there are more than one incident. And then yesterday, there were fishermans in waters where there are no fish. I mean, I know it is – gasoline and things like this, so they appear suddenly. So you must be keeping tabs on that, or someone must be? Do you —
MR. TONER: I don’t have any comment.
QUESTION: Okay. Would you equally also say that it is not a good idea to sabotage these ships in any way?
MR. TONER: I would just reiterate what I just said to Matt, is – our bottom line is we don’t want to see anyone put at risk, and that would include any action to sabotage these boats, but also the boats themselves, the flotillas themselves, will put these individuals at risk.
Yeah. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Change of topic?
MR. TONER: Sure.