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New White House Spokesman at Ease During First Formal Briefing

President Bush's new White House spokesman, Tony Snow, appeared at ease during his first formal briefing.

Snow Tuesday fielded questions from reporters about border security and surveillance programs in a fashion one White House reporter characterized as "nice and zippy."

Standing at the podium, Snow defended his refusal to comment about a controversial surveillance program, saying "al-Qaida does not believe in transparency."

At another point, when asked for a figure, he deferred saying, "Rather than have me fake it, I'll get the precise number for you."

The 50-year-old Snow is a well-known figure in Washington political and media circles. He was a conservative television commentator for Fox News, and has served as a speechwriter for Mr. Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush.

Snow's hiring is part of an overall shake-up of the White House staff, in an attempt to boost declining public support for the president.