Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Waxman to Rice — stop ignoring me

I've written before that I think that Condolezza Rice is a liar. Well, Henry Waxman has problems with her too. He can't even get her to respond to his letters. Maybe if he'd stuff it in with a subpoena, he'd get her attention. Magnifico at the Daily Kos has this to say:

Henry Waxman is taking off the gloves. Once again, Henry Waxman is trying to get Secretary of State Condolezza Rice to answer to questions he has been asking about George W. Bush's claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger. Questions, Waxman has been trying to get Rice to answer since 2003. Today, as Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Waxman sent this letter to Rice:

Since 2003, I have written 16 letters to you, either in your capacity as National Security Advisor or Secretary of State. According to Committee records, you have satisfactorily responded to only five of those 16 letters. Those five were co-signed by Republicans. Under the Bush Administration, several agencies followed a policy of not responding to minority party requests. Although I do not agree with this policy, I presume that you were also following it when you decided not to respond to my requests for information.

I am now renewing my requests as the chairman of the chief oversight committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shorter version: Waxman to Rice — stop ignoring me.

On March 17, 2003, two days before the start of Bush's Iraq war, Waxman wrote:

In the last ten days ... it has become incontrovertibly clear that a key piece of evidence you and other Administration officials have cited regarding Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons is a hoax. What's more, the Central Intelligence Agency questioned the veracity of the evidence at the same time you and other Administration officials were citing it in public statements. This is a breach of the highest order, and the American people are entitled to know how it happened.

To which, he adds: "To this day, however, I have not received an adequate explanation to my question. The President did not respond to my letter, nor did you respond to multiple letters I sent you about this matter."

Waxman lists multiple times when Rice and facts seem to be in conflict:

  • On Meet the Press on June 8, 2003 — Rice: "We did not know at the time - no one knew at the time, in our circles - maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."
  • On This Week on June 8, 2003 — Rice: "...somebody down may have known. But I will tell you that when this issue was raised with the intelligence community ... the intelligence community did not know at that time, or at levels that got to us, that this, that there were serious questions about this report."
  • On Face the Nation on July 13, 2003 — Rice: "[H]ad there been even a peep that the agency did not want that sentence in or that George Tenet did not want that sentence in ... it would have been gone."

Unfortunately for Rice, her reality and the established facts about the Niger uranium lies leading up to the war with Iraq are not in agreement. After nearly four years of trying to get an answer from the administration, Waxman now has the power to demand attention. He writes this wake-up call:

It was subsequently revealed, however, that the CIA had sent a memo directly to you and your deputy at the time, Stephen Hadley, raising doubts about the Niger claim months before the President's State of the Union address. According to Mr. Hadley, the CIA sent a memo directly to the White House Situation Room addressed to you and him on October 6, 2002, that described "weakness in the evidence" and that stated "the CIA had been telling Congress that the Africa story was one of two issues where we differed with the British intelligence." Mr. Hadley also reported that the CIA sent a second memo to him a day earlier, and that George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, personally telephoned him to ask that the reference be removed from a speech the President delivered in October 2002.

Shorter version: Rice and reality have trouble co-existing. Waxman knows it and this is what he's going to do about it:

As a result of your failure to respond, the Committee still does not know what you knew about the fabricated Niger claim and when you knew it. We also do not know how the fabricated claim made it into the President's State of the Union address. We continue to learn in a piecemeal fashion about other explicit warnings received by White House officials about this bogus claim. According to one recent press account, for example, CIA briefer Craig R. Schmall wrote a memo to Eric Edelman, Vice President Cheney's national security advisor, warning that the "CIA on several occasions has cautioned ... that available information on this issue was fragmentary and unconfirmed." Yet we still do not know who at the White House kept resuscitating this claim after intelligence officials questioned its veracity.

I respectfully request a complete reply to my questions and document requests relating to the fabricated Niger claim by March 23, 2007.

Rice has until March 23 to completely answer Waxman's questions, or else I suspect she will soon find herself served with a subpoena to appear before Waxman's committee.

H/T Digby.

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