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Push for False Pre-Iraq War Claims Accountability

Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Nov. 15, 2005
http://www.btlonline.org

Some Congressional Democrats Now Push for White House Accountability on False Pre-Iraq War Claims
Interview with U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. conducted by Richard Hill

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Washington continues to analyze the fallout from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby on charges of making false statements, perjury and obstruction of justice, related to his investigation of who in the White House leaked the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson. The indictment and subsequent resignation of Libby emboldened Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid to force the full Senate to conduct an unusual closed-door session on Nov. 1. The goal of Senate Democrats was to pressure the majority Republicans to conduct a long-delayed investigation into whether the Bush administration exaggerated and manipulated intelligence to justify the Iraq war. After the two-hour session, an agreement was hammered out to have a bipartisan group of six senators report on the Senate Intelligence Committee's progress on completing the investigation by Nov. 14.

An earlier attempt to push Fitzgerald's investigation into dealing with questions about the veracity of pre-war intelligence was made by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. Hinchey, joined by 39 members of the House, sent Fitzgerald a Sept. 15 letter requesting an expansion of his investigation to include the administration's false claim that Iraq had sought uranium in the African nation of Niger to build a nuclear weapon. The letter also requests that the special counsel look into whether the administration violated federal law that prohibits making fraudulent statements to Congress.

Between The Lines' Richard Hill spoke with Rep. Hinchey, who explains why he initiated the letter to Fitzgerald and what he hopes will result from the growing pressure on Congress to hold Bush administration officials accountable for a war, that many Americans now believe, was waged on the basis of lies.

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY: I suggested to Mr. Fitzgerald that in addition to the importance of revealing who it was that revealed the identity of the undercover agent Valerie Wilson (Plame) -- Mrs. Wilson -- it was important to ask the question why that revelation took place and how it was associated with the fabrication of information and intelligence which led up to the war in Iraq. It's becoming increasingly clear that the information that the administration presented to Congress as a reason for going to war, that is, the so-called weapons of mass destruction, and particularly the idea that Iraq was importing enriched uranium from Niger was completely false. And, a growing amount of evidence indicates that the highest ranking members of the administration knew it was false when they presented that information. So, my request to Mr. Fitzgerald was to ask him to expand his investigation beyond who it was that revealed Mrs. Wilson's identity and to ask the question why that was done, and in the course of asking that question, to examine the issue of the fabrication of information and intelligence presented to the Congress to justify the congressional resolution authorizing war in Iraq.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Since you have presented this letter to Patrick Fitzgerald, has there been any kind of reaction either from the prosecutor or from your colleagues in Congress or from any other quarters?

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY: There has been no direct response from the prosecutor. We didn't anticipate that there would be, but we believe that it's important that he focus in this way. And he may be focusing in this way. Today, we've seen something very dramatic happen, and that is that the Democrats in the United States Senate, have requested that the Senate go into closed session in order to investigate this issue of falsified information and to determine why the Senate intelligence committee has not fulfilled its obligation -- which it said it would --that obligation being to investigate the falsification of information by the executive branch and to add that to the report that it presented to the Senate and the American people last fall, just before the election.

So, things are beginning to happen. I'm very interested in and encouraged by what's taking place in the Senate right now. We finally have more Democrats who are willing to stand up and stipulate that this administration has taken this nation to war based upon forged and falsified information.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Do you see a failure at the congressional level in terms of investigating this issue? It seems that's what happened in the Watergate era -- Congress picked up the investigation track and that's what really led toward the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

REP. MAURICE HINCHEY: You're absolutely right. There is no question that this Congress has failed in its obligations to investigate this matter. We have our Constitution, which is the basis for all the laws of our country. And in that Constitution, we have a stipulation of separation of powers and the various allocations of responsibility between the executive and the legislative branches. The legislative branch has the responsibility to oversee the executive branch, to make sure the executive branch with all of its power is not using that power in unlawful ways, or in ways that are contrary to the law or to our Constitution. The problem is, is that the Republicans here in Washington control both the White House and the Congress. And the Republicans in the Congress have refused to stand up and exercise their responsibilities to investigate what appear to be serious crimes by this administration. And that has to be changed.

I am very deeply distressed by what is happening to our country here under this monolithic government that rules the nation presently in Washington, both at the executive and legislative branch. Now, it's very important the truth be revealed here. We've allowed our country to engage itself in an illegal, unjustified, immoral war in another country. We've allowed this administration to attack another country without any legitimate reason whatsoever and that is something that we as Americans cannot tolerate.

We've got to get to the bottom of this and we have to do it as soon and as thoroughly as possible.

Read Hinchey's letter to Fitzgerald online at the congressman's website at http://www.house.gov/hinchey.

Related links on our website at http://www.btlonline.org/btl111805.html#1hed :

* "A Cheney-Libby Conspiracy, Or Worse? Reading Between the Lines of the Libby Indictment"
* "Cheney Promotes Two with Dirty Hands to Take Over for Libby"
* " Indicting America"
* "This War on Terrorism is Bogus: The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination
* Project for a New American Century's Letter to President Clinton on Iraq

*************

Richard Hill is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Nov. 18, 2005. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.

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