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[casi] Waxman Seeks WMD Commission

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Waxman Seeks WMD Commission & Gen. Wesley Clark Says White House Pushed Saddam
Link Without Evidence
Waxman Seeks WMD Commission
By John Bresnahan
Roll Call Staff
June 23, 2003
With the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq continuing,
top Democrats on Capitol Hill are wrestling with how far to push
President Bush on the issue and what political gains, if any, they
can garner from such efforts.
Although both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have
already begun hearings on Iraq, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wants
to introduce legislation to create an independent commission to look
into what the Bush administration and U.S. intelligence agencies
knew about Iraq's WMD programs before the war started and how that
information was presented to Congress and the American public.
The panel would be set up in similar fashion to the commission that
has Center and Pentagon, including having the power to subpoena
witnesses and documents.
Another option under consideration is to try to attach an amendment
to the fiscal 2004 intelligence authorization bill creating an
independent commission on Iraq WMD programs.That bill is usually
debated under an open rule, potentially giving Democrats venue to
press the GOP leadership on the issue.
Waxman, who voted for the resolution authorizing Bush to use
military force in Iraq, declined to comment on his latest proposal.
But Democrats sources say that he has informed Minority Leader Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.) of his plans.
Waxman has been quietly circulating a draft copy of the initiative
to colleagues over the last several days, and is seeking support
from high-profile Democrats who backed the Iraq war but now have
doubts about what they were told by the White House. Waxman has been
particularly vocal about the claim by Bush and other senior
administration officials that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
tried to buy uranium from the African nation of Niger for nuclear
weapons. The charge, included in the president's State of the Union
address last January, has been shown to have been based on forged
"The thing I have been trying to focus on is the whole question ...
of Iraq becoming a nuclear power,"said Waxman, who added that he
based his own vote for the Iraq resolution on the possibility of
Hussein acquiring nuclear weapons.
Waxman, ranking member on the Government Reform Committee, has
repeatedly demanded that the White House turn over whatever
information it has on the Niger incident, although so far the
administration has not responded to his requests.
Waxman is one of 81 House Democrats, along with 29 Senate Democrats,
who backed the Iraq war but are now to beginning to question the
wisdom of that vote. While most Hill Democrats have refrained from
criticizing Bush, several candidates for the party's presidential
nod in 2004, including Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John Kerry (D-
Mass), as well as former Vermont Gov.Howard Dean (D), have stepped
up their rhetoric.
Kerry, who voted for the Iraq resolution, charged last week that
Bush "misled" him and the country about the seriousness of Iraq's
WMD capability in order to justify the war, although GOP officials
quickly slammed him for hypocrisy, pointing out that just days
before the Massachusetts Democrat had said it would be
"irresponsible" to make that allegation at this point.
House Democratic leaders have been distracted by the ongoing
legislative struggle over Medicare and prescription drugs, and they
have yet to reach agreement on how best to exploit the opening some
now see on Iraq.
Many Democrats believe time is actually their biggest ally on this
issue. If there are no discoveries of WMD caches in Iraq during the
coming weeks and months, then questions about Bush's credibility are
certain to increase, according to Democratic insiders.
"Time is on our side," said a House Democratic leader, speaking on
the condition of anonymity. "The longer this goes on, the more it
will hurt Bush. And the press is on top of this, and they aren't
going to let Bush and [Vice President] Cheney off the hook."
A senior House Democratic staffer pointed out that Rep. Jane Harman
(D-Calif.), who backed the Iraq war, has been pushing for an open
inquiry into the WMD issue by the Intelligence Committee, where she
is the ranking member.
Although Intelligence Chairman Porter Goss (R-Fla.) rejected that
request, the committee has begun closed- door hearings on the issue.
Waxman's plan for an independent commission could collide with
Harman's efforts, and at least one senior House Democratic staffer
sees a "turf problem" for Waxman as he tries to find backers for his
Pelosi, who strongly opposed the Iraq resolution, has refused to get
drawn into a public debate with the White House on the WMD issue. "I
have concerns that the weapons have not been found, not because of
who said what and when, but because if they are so convinced that
they were there, where are they?" Pelosi told reporters last week.
"And are they still - do they still pose the danger that some
thought they did?"
House Republicans leaders have continued to state unequivocally that
the Iraq invasion was justifiable, especially in light of the
atrocities committed by the Hussein regime that have been discovered
in recent weeks by U.S. forces.
But some GOP insiders also grumble that the White House has not done
enough to quell the growing chorus of complaints coming from
Democrats on Iraq, and fear that continued casualties there could
undermine what has so far been a triumph for Bush.
Across the Capitol, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.),vice chairman of
the Senate Intelligence Committee, has repeatedly called for an open
inquiry into the Iraq WMD threat, but has been blocked by
Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). While neither Roberts
nor Rockefeller has a reputation as a partisan warrior, the two have
clashed repeatedly on this issue, and Rockefeller has threatened to
use Intelligence Committee rules to spur a full-blown investigation.
Rockefeller, though, declined to force a vote on an open inquiry
during a contentious, closed-door meeting of the full Intelligence
Committee last Wednesday, although the West Virginia Democrat had
claimed he might do so beforehand.
Rockefeller knew he would lose that vote, according to several
Senators from both parties who serve on the committee, and didn't
want to look like he was being overtly partisan on a panel that has
traditionally sought to operate in a bipartisan manner.
"There was no way [Rockefeller] could win, so he took what he could
get. It was smart," said a GOP Senator serving on Intelligence.
Following that meeting, Rockefeller and Roberts announced that there
would that no limits have been placed on what topics can be raised
and which witnesses can be called, including Bush administration
officials. The two Senators also said a public report may be issued
by the panel at some undefined future time, and suggested there
would be at least one public hearing on the topic ofWMDs.
Senate insiders say that Rockefeller is under heavy pressure from
some of the more outspoken Democrats on the committee, including
Sens. Carl Levin (Mich.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.), to press for more
concessions from Roberts.
"This is not going to end anytime soon," predicted a high-ranking
Senate Democrat. "There's just too much at stake here for this to
get swept under the rug."

Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments:
Gen. Wesley Clark Says White House Pushed Saddam Link Without Evidence
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting Media Advisory - June 20, 2003[2]
Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make
news for days afterward. Since prominent government officials dominate the
guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of
newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.
But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that
it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert that
Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam
Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that
he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the terror
attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting
immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam
RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"
CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the
White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I
got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is
sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said,
I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never got any
Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS Evening News story
that aired on September 4, 2002. As correspondent David Martin
reported: "Barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77
plowed into the Pentagon, the secretary of defense was telling his
aides to start thinking about striking Iraq, even though there was
no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks." According to
CBS, a Pentagon aide's notes from that day quote Rumsfeld asking for
the "best info fast" to "judge whether good enough to hit SH at the
same time, not only UBL." (The initials SH and UBL stand for Saddam
Hussein and Osama bin Laden.) The notes then quote Rumsfeld as
demanding, ominously, that the administration's response "go
massive...sweep it all up, things related and not."
Despite its implications, Martin's report was greeted largely with
silence when it aired. Now, nine months later, media are covering
damaging revelations about the Bush administration's intelligence on
Iraq, yet still seem strangely reluctant to pursue stories
suggesting that the flawed intelligence-- and therefore the war--
may have been a result of deliberate deception, rather than
incompetence. The public deserves a fuller accounting of this story.

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