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!Off Topic: US politics ============================ Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 11:05:54 EDT Subject: [NIPGtalk] Durbin sees a [White House] campaign against him - Chicago Tribune 7/23/03 <A HREF=3D"http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0307230235jul23,1,6530271.story?coll=3Dchi-news-hed"> http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-0307230235jul23,1,6530271.story?coll=3Dchi-news-hed</A> Durbin sees a campaign against him Senator denounces White House leaks By Mike Dorning Washington Bureau July 23, 2003 WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Tuesday accused the White House of=20 trying to oust him from the Intelligence Committee and waging a campaign of= =20 intimidation against critics of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. In a lengthy and unusually pointed speech on the Senate floor, Durbin (D-Ill.) described a "continuing pattern" of news leaks attributed to Bush administration officials that he said were intended to squelch criticism of their conduct on Iraq. "If any member of this Senate . . . questions this White House policy, raises any questions about the gathering of intelligence information or the use of it, be prepared for the worst," said Durbin, a Democrat. "The White House is going to turn to you and attack you. They are going to question your patriotism." The senator's 45-minute denunciation comes as President Bush is under fire for a claim in his State of the Union address that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Africa. On Tuesday, the White House acknowledged that the CIA had sent two memos months before the speech warning that the information was not credible. Voted against the war Durbin, who voted against the resolution authorizing the war in Iraq, has been one of the Senate's most vocal critics of the White House's handling of intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He is demanding a Senate investigation and last week made public the testimony from a CIA official that a White House aide had pressed the agency to allow a claim to be in Bush's speech that British intelligence had "learned" about Iraq's quest for African uranium. Bush press secretary Scott McClellan characterized as "absolute nonsense" Durbin's charge the White House is promoting stories that the senator is unfit for the intelligence panel or otherwise seeking to discredit critics with news leaks. "That is not the way the White House operates. That is not the way the White House press office operates. That is not my style," McClellan added. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota expressed support for Durbin's continued tenure on the intelligence oversight panel. "He has been one of the most vigorous and most capable members of the Intelligence Committee. I support his efforts," Daschle said. "I think any efforts to intimidate him or to in some way undermine his determination to get to the facts is just wrong." Durbin accused the White House of spreading allegations--which the senator denied--that he disclosed classified information and should be ousted from the panel. Durbin said that on Friday that reporters began calling his office saying that an anonymous White House official had informed them that Durbin had disclosed classified information and, as a result, Republican senators were= trying to remove him from the intelligence panel. According to Durbin, the reporters said their White House source told them he had disclosed the name of the national security aide who was involved in the preparation of the speech. Durbin denied disclosing the name, although several news reports last week identified the staffer as Robert G. Joseph, a senior adviser on counter-proliferation issues. Also, according to Durbin, the reporters said they were told he included classified information in a Senate speech last week criticizing the administration's use of intelligence in making the case for war with Iraq. In the speech, he said U.S. intelligence had identified 550 sites it suspected may have been used for weapons of mass destruction. But Durbin said the information had been declassified in June. His office produced copies of month-old public statements from the UN and from another senator that included the figure. Durbin press secretary Joe Shoemaker said two reporters for major newsmagazines and one from a newspaper phoned with similar information. McClellan denied the White House was spreading the story. "Everything we have said, we have said publicly," he said. Durbin also suggested the White House may have sought "political revenge" on the author of an intelligence report questioning claims that Iraq sought to buy nuclear material from the African nation of Niger. He cited a Bob Novak column and TIME magazine article based on information attributed to administration officials that disclosed that the author, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, is married to a CIA operative. Suspected retaliation The information was disclosed after Wilson wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times disputing administration claims that Iraq tried to purchase the uranium. Although Wilson has declined to say whether his wife works for the CIA, he said officials in the administration are seeking to retaliate against him through the revelation. If true, he has said, the disclosure would compromise her career and operations she may have been working on. Asking for a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of that disclosure, Durbin said, "It may be criminal, and that, quite frankly, is as serious as it gets in this town." Shoemaker said Durbin's concern also was driven by a report on the personal life of ABC News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman that surfaced after Kofman aired a piece describing low troop morale in Iraq. Soon afterward, the Internet's Drudge Report published a banner headline: "ABC News correspondent who filed troop complaints story is openly gay, Canadian." The site included a link to a profile of Kofman in the gay magazine The Advocate. Site publisher Matt Drudge later told The Washington Post that "someone in the White House communications shop tipped me" to the ABC correspondent's piece and the Advocate profile. McClellan said in press briefings this week that he does not believe the White House was the source for any of the stories. Copyright =A9 2003, <A HREF=3D"http://www.chicagotribune.com/">Chicago Trib une</A> ________________________________________________________________ The best thing to hit the internet in years - Juno SpeedBand! Surf the web up to FIVE TIMES FASTER! 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