November 01, 2005

Senate Democrats Halt Senate Business To Discuss Intelligence Failures Leading to Iraq War

From My Way News:


WASHINGTON (AP) - In a day of political drama, Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue.

"They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why," Democratic leader Harry Reid said.

The afternoon halt in Senate business let Democrats steer the spotlight to the war in Iraq, an issue on which the president is doing badly in public opinion polls.

Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt but agreed two hours later to a bipartisan review of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into prewar intelligence."The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," said Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. The Republican leader also said President Bush's decision to nominate Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court had "set the Democrats back on their heels. ... This may just be a reaction to that."Democrats sought assurances that Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas would complete the second phase of an investigation of the administration's prewar intelligence. A six-member task force - three members from each party - was appointed to review the Intelligence Committee's work and report to their respective leaders by Nov. 14.

Roberts' committee produced a 511-page report in 2004 on flaws in an Iraq intelligence estimate assembled by the country's top analysts in October 2002, and he promised a second phase would look at issues that couldn't be finished in the first year of work.

The committee worked on the second phase of the review, Roberts said, but it has not finished. He blamed Democrats for the delays and said his staff had informed Democratic counterparts on Monday that the committee hoped to complete the second phase next week.

"Now we have this ... stunt 24 hours after their staff was informed that we were moving to closure next week," a clearly angry Roberts told reporters. "If that's not politics, I'm not standing here."...

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted last Friday in an investigation that touched on the war - the leak of the identity of a CIA official married to a critic of the administration's Iraq policy.

"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," Reid said before invoking Senate rules that led to the closed session.

Rather than deal with the fact that, whether they like it or not, we are fighting a war in Iraq, the Democrats continue to rehash whether or not we should have gone to war.
I fail to see how this is a winning strategy for Democrats. The public already does not trust Democrats on National Security, so why promote a half-assed conspiracy theory that alleges the Democrats, who voted for the war, did so based upon a conspiracy of lies that kept them utterly in the dark. While such a conspiracy theory would at least allow Democrats to plausibly argue against a war that they largely voted for (yes, although most Democrats gloss over the fact, the Iraq war resolution passed with broad bipartisan support), it does nothing but make the Democrats look like political opportunists or, worse, hapless idiots who can easily be deceived by others.
I really cannot stand Reid's assertion that somehow the Scooter Libby indictment proves anything. First, it is only an indictment - Libby has not confessed to doing anything against the law and has not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Second, the indictment says nothing about falsifying or manufacturing intelligence. Third, Scooter Libby was evidently cleared of any conspiracy crimes or any crimes related to retribution against Ms. Plame or Joe Wilson. While it does appear that Libby was trying to discredit Joe Wilson - a very vocal opponent of the war - it does not mean that he should not have done so. Clearly, the bipartisan commission has already discredited many of Joe Wilson's allegations (Joe Wilson himself has been shown to have lied about many matters related to his Niger trip - including the fact that his wife, a CIA operative, had recommended him for the trip).
Maybe, the Democrats should listed to the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald:
This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel....The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction. And I think anyone who's concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn't look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.




The Democrats see a window alright. The Democrats' hopes - that the grand jury would indict Bush administration officials in connection with manufacturing intelligence or a conspiracy to mislead the American public and Senate - were dashed when the grand jury failed to indict anyone for anything other than perjury/obstruction of justice for making unrelated false statements. Now, they want to go beyond the grand jury investigation to somehow find a result more to their liking.
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