Thursday, July 28, 2005

Senate Intelligence Committee Probe on Pre-War Intelligence Stalls

For eight months, The Boston Globe is reporting, "the Senate Intelligence Committee has made little effort to pursue its long-promised probe into whether the Bush administration intentionally misconstrued intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war -- an investigation that would have delved into whether White House aides tried to put pressure on CIA analysts."

Last year, Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee vowed "that soon after the presidential election was over, his panel would examine whether Bush or his top aides misled the public about prewar intelligence, or pressured CIA agents to make a stronger case for invading Iraq."

But since then, the Intelligence Committee has made no measurable progress on the investigation. Instead, Roberts has offered vague public promises of picking up the key pieces of the probe at some point but has warned that other more pressing matters must be dealt with first.

Senator John D. Rockefeller, Ranking Member of the committee, suspects political motivation from congressional Republicans who want to shield the administration.

''The chairman has declared firmly that it will be done," said Rockefeller, Democrat of West Virginia. ''I always think there's a reluctance to do anything which might embarrass the administration. I think that's been true since the beginning of all of this."

The criminal investigation of an administration leak that revealed the identity of Valerie Plame has has highlighted the failure of the Senate Intel Committee to act on their investigation. The criminal investigation into PlameGate has implicated both Karl Rove and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, propelling Senate Democrats to call for a congressional hearing into the leak, including Rove's and Libby's involvement.

Though an investigation of the uses of prewar intelligence would not cover the leaking of Plame Wilson's name -- that occurred after the invasion of Iraq -- it could shed light on whether members of the administration took other actions to suppress or discredit opposing views.

Roberts' latest excuse in not moving forward with the investigation is "that committee members remain at odds over how to judge public prewar statements made by members of the Bush administration and Congress."

Senator Rockefeller and other Democrats do not feel that "differing opinions on how to handle public statements" is a valid reason to hold up the investigation any further.

Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the fact that there has been no investigation of the misuse of intelligence means US policy may still be based on mistaken conclusions.

''A year and a half later, there's still no report, no conclusions, no accountability for the mistakes, and no way to be sure they won't be repeated," said Kerry. ''This is just further evidence of a pattern by this White House and the Republicans in Congress to stop at nothing to discredit their critics and silence the tough questions before they get asked."


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