SLUG: 5-54024 Congress/Weapons Debate
TITLE=CONGRESS / WEAPONS DEBATE
INTRO: Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have begun a week-long Independence Day break. But in their absence, controversy continues over intelligence information used by the Bush administration to justify the war in Iraq, and persuade Congress to authorize the use of military force. Democrats in the House of Representatives are demanding an independent investigation, and some have introduced legislation to that effect. V-O-A's Dan Robinson reports:
TEXT: In the Senate and House, committees are reviewing thousands of pages of documents, in multiple volumes, obtained from the C-I-A and other government agencies.
These committees are chaired by Republicans, and from the start of the controversy, Democrats have insisted that a more extensive examination, by an independent panel, is needed.
/// OPT /// There were similar calls for an independent inquiry after the September 11th (2001) terrorist attacks. Eventually, an independent commission was created, in addition to inquiries by a joint Senate-House committee, and a separate House panel. /// END OPT ///
The push for an independent commission on Iraq war intelligence is led by a group of lawmakers who were among 81 House Democrats who voted for a congressional resolution last October authorizing President Bush to use military force in Iraq.
California Democrat Henry Waxman introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives to create an independent commission. He says the question is not whether the United States was right to go to war in Iraq, but to hold accountable those who may have manipulated information.
Pennsylvania Democrat Joe Hoeffel, who supported President Bush last year on Iraq, agrees, and says nothing less than the credibility of the United States, and President Bush's doctrine of pre-emption is on the line.
/// HOEFFEL ACT ///
If we are ever again to embrace the notion of pre-emptive use of military force, which may be necessary in an age of terror -- if we're ever going to use a pre-emptive strategy again, we must know our intelligence is accurate. Otherwise, the doctrine of pre-emption is unusable.
/// END ACT ///
Of Democrats who voted for the war in Iraq, one person does not support creation of an independent commission, at least for now. Congresswoman Jane Harman is the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee:
/// HARMAN ACT ///
I know that there are questions on both sides of the aisle about this intelligence, questions, which our committee is already asking. While an independent commission or other mechanism might be needed at some later date, the members of our committee have now initiated an investigation.
/// END ACT ///
Mrs. Harman says she intends to dig deep to discover what was or was not known about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. She also raises questions about information the administration presented about alleged links between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida terrorist organization.
Efforts by Democratic lawmakers to have Congress demand additional inquiries, including one calling for an audit of telephone and electronic communications between the C-I-A and Vice President Dick Cheney, were rejected by the Republican-controlled House.
/// OPT /// In this exchange, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat and presidential candidate who introduced a proposal to demand those records, was accused of playing politics by a Republican, Ray LaHood.
/// KUCINICH LA HOOD ACTS ///
LAHOOD: This is a political amendment. This is an amendment to try and embarrass one member of this administration. This is an amendment to try and embarrass the second highest-ranking elected official in our government.
KUCINICH: I would hope that the gentleman would appreciate receiving clear direction for an inquiry. I can only assume the gentleman does not want the direction of the whole Congress to get to the bottom of the vice president's role.
/// END ACTS // END OPT ///
The chairman of the House intelligence committee, (Republican) Porter Goss, himself a Former C-I-A officer, says existing committee reviews will be sufficient. Whatever the result of congressional reviews, he says, Americans should be confident in the dedication of those who work in government intelligence agencies.
/// GOSS ACT ///
/// OPT /// Nobody would say that we are in errant (without error). There is no document I know that is written that is in errant, nor is there any infallibility. We are all human beings. /// END OPT /// What I can say to the American people is that I am satisfied that the men and women of the intelligence community of our nation, and there are thousands of them, are doing their best for our national security.
/// END ACT ///
Many Republicans are quick to recall that many Democrats in both the House and Senate spoke out strongly about an Iraqi chemical and biological weapons threat before Congress voted for military action.
/// OPT /// Here is Jack Kingston, a Republican from Georgia:
/// KINGSTON ACT ///
We're going to hear from a lot of the left (left-wing) in this chamber that we haven't located weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and somehow the president is at fault. Many, many leading Democrat liberals were in support of us going into Iraq in the name of weapons of mass destruction.
/// END ACT END OPT ///
However, Republicans are also acutely aware that, from the public's point of view, the reliability of intelligence information may turn out to be less important in the long run than the question of whether the administration deliberately set out to mislead.
Even if an independent investigation is not undertaken, public hearings in Congress are likely to begin when lawmakers return in July from their break. (SIGNED)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|