Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.
Hmm, wonder if Harriet Miers was one of those lawyers?
Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney’s office — and Libby in particular — pushed to be included in Powell’s speech, the sources said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee was looking into whether the CIA or other agencies had provided faulty intelligence to the Bush Administration as it prepared to go to war in Iraq. However, Waas writes,
… the committee deferred the much more politically sensitive issue as to whether the president and the vice president themselves, or other administration officials, misrepresented intelligence information to bolster the case to go to war. An Intelligence Committee spokesperson says the panel is still working on this second phase of the investigation.
Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.
Waas writes that both Republicans and Democrats felt the investigation had been hampered by the White House’s refusal to hand over critical documents. It’s not too late for a do-over, I say.
Jesse Lee at the Stakeholder writes that this passage from the Waas article stuck out:
At the same time, however, administration officials said in interviews that they cannot recall another instance in which Cheney and Libby played such direct personal roles in denying foreign policy papers to a congressional committee, and that in doing so they overruled White House staff and lawyers who advised that the materials should be turned over to the Senate panel.
Jesse Lee comments:
Notice anybody missing from that equation? Did President Bush even know there was a debate? Did he know there were any debates about anything ever?
Maybe he was busy working out on his mountain bike.
Via Josh Marshall, Rep. Jerry Nadler is calling for expanding the Fitzgerald investigation “to look at a possible White House conspiracy to deceive Congress.”
Specifically, I’ve asked that Mr. Fitzgerald seek answers to three pressing questions: whether the CIA leak incident was part of a larger, deliberate effort to deceive Congress into authorizing war in Iraq, who exactly was involved, and whether any of their actions were criminal. If a larger, intentional effort was indeed underway – as evidence is tending to show that it was – that amounts to a criminal conspiracy.
President Bush may be spending the rest of his term huddled in a closet with his lucky pillow.