By David Swanson
Here it is, yawn, on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend and on the day after a war debate in Congress, all 229 pages of it, and as riveting as a phone book: the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Bush and Cheney’s war lies. This is what we’ve waited all these years for? Nancy Pelosi shaved her legs for THIS?
We elected Democratic majorities in November of 2006 so that they could end the occupation and hold accountable those who had launched it. We had every reason to expect serious investigations, subpoenas, and impeachment hearings. For the previous two years the Democrats in Congress had clamored for hearings and information on the lies that the White House had used to sell the war. The Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee had loudly protested the Republican Chair’s refusal to produce a serious report on those lies. Progressive Democrats in the House had advanced numerous resolutions of inquiry into such matters as the Downing Street Minutes and the White House Iraq Group. In 2007, all that desire to expose the war lies evaporated. We have been betrayed.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has subpoenaed Condoleezza Rice to testify about the forged Niger documents, but she’s refused to comply, and Chairman Henry Waxman has said and done nothing about it.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing because the Pentagon released a whitewash report on the crimes of Doug Feith, but Chairman Carl Levin never followed up on all the leads exposed in that hearing.
Other than these two instances, Congress has left the war lies completely alone for the full five months of Democratic rule. Meanwhile, polls have shown strong majority support for investigating the pre-war “intelligence.”
The new Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes announced right away in January that he would only “look forward” and would leave the matter of the war to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee proceeded to do nothing. New Chairman, and previous Ranking Member, Senator Jay Rockefeller lost all his passion for exposing the war lies at the crack of 2007. He said he would work on completing the report that had never been done. But he held no hearings and issued no subpoenas. The point of giving him the chairmanship had not been for him to sit in his office and write a “report” on information that was already public knowledge, but for him to hold hearings, call witnesses, issue subpoenas, publicize what was known and perhaps learn something new. The evidence needs to reach the public. More than enough of it has long been known and is collected at http://afterdowningstreet.org/keydocuments
The report that Rockefeller dumped on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, rather than publishing prior to Thursday’s debate, was produced by a method that any of us could have employed, namely reading things that had already been published and summarizing them. To make matters worse, the report looks only at what the prewar predictions were for what the post-invasion conditions would be in Iraq. The report does not even summarize and give its stamp of approval to the existing and overwhelming body of evidence that the pre-war claims about weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda were known at the time to be false. THAT is the report everyone’s waiting to see. And we don’t want just a boring report. We want hearings on television. But, just as the Democrats agreed to steer the Iran-Contra hearings away from any evidence that might lead to President Ronald Reagan’s impeachment, the current crop of Cheney Democrats seems intent on avoiding discussion of high crimes and misdemeanors.
On February 12, 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it had agreed to investigate the following list of items. The new report looks only at item E. We have not yet seen any reports, much less hearings or subpoenas, related to A-2, A-3, A-4, C, or G.
A. The matters set forth in the joint release of the Chairman and Vice Chairman on June 20, 2003:
1. the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs, ties to terrorist groups, Saddam Hussein’s threat to stability and security in the region, and his repression of his own people;
2. the objectivity, reasonableness, independence, and accuracy of the judgments reached by the Intelligence Community;
3. whether those judgments were properly disseminated to policy makers in the Executive Branch and Congress;
4. whether any influence was brought to bear on anyone to shape their analysis to support policy objectives; and
5. other issues we mutually identify in the course of the Committee’s review;
B. the collection of intelligence on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
C. whether public statements and reports and testimony regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials made between the Gulf War period and the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom were substantiated by intelligence information;
D. the postwar findings about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and weapons programs and links to terrorism and how they compare with prewar assessments;
E. prewar intelligence assessments about postwar Iraq;
F. any intelligence activities relating to Iraq conducted by the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and
G. the use by the Intelligence Community of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Russ Feingold (D-WI) tries to put the best spin on the current report that he can:
“The report released today by the Senate Intelligence Committee underscores that the Administration was indifferent to the predicted negative consequences of the war in Iraq. The intelligence community’s assessments, made prior to the war and widely disseminated within the Administration, also directly contradict many of the assertions made at the time by the Administration. The intelligence assessments available to the Administration before the war directly contradicted assertions that the war would help us fight al Qaeda. The intelligence community assessed that, as a result of the war, al Qaeda would probably see an opportunity to accelerate its operational tempo and increase terrorist attacks, terrorist groups would probably be encouraged to take advantage of a volatile security environment to launch attacks within Iraq and al Qaeda would try to take advantage of US attention on postwar Iraq to reestablish its presence in Afghanistan. The war’s devastating impact on the fight against al Qaeda and on our national security has been apparent for some time. That the Administration was warned of the negative consequences before the war shows just how reckless it was.”
True enough. Serious enough. Impeachable enough. But not what is needed to shake the capital of the empire. The clock is ticking, Chairman Rockefeller. The bodies are piling up.