The Struggle to Expose Bush's Failures of Intelligence Continues: Memogate Be Damned

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has been examining the use of intelligence by senior administration officials in the Bush White House. It was digging into the stovepiping of intelligence by "the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department". This was being pulled along by the Democratic members of the committee, but it had the cooperation of the majority chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS).

No longer. Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, has pulled the plug on the committee. The reason? A memo to the SSCI minority leader, John Rockefeller IV (D-WV) was stolen from his office. This memo outlined an plan for getting any evidence of "improper or questionable conduct by administration officials" into the public eye. It states its concern for operating within established guidelines for committee members, but the subject matter is clearly a weak spot for the Bush Administration. Since Frist knows just who to thank for his current leadership role in the Senate, the political battle lines have been drawn on the issue of Bolton's stovepipe.

The plan in the memo was to use Roberts' cooperation as far as it would go, then attach dissenting opinions that could be supported by the evidence to the final reports. This might have been enough to reopen the call for an independent investigation. Now Roberts will be completely uncooperative whenever the committee is allowed to reconvene.

It is therefore crucial that the Democratic members of the SSCI stick to their guns and work to dissent as strongly as possible from the final report. It appears that Rockefeller is doing just that:

After discussions with Roberts, the majority leader said that "the committee's review is nearly complete" and "we have jointly determined the committee can and will complete its review this year."

"They can't do that," Rockefeller said, noting that hundreds of pages of requested documents have recently been promised by the State Department and Pentagon and more interviews have been scheduled.

In addition, he noted that the final report from David Kay, who heads the CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, has not been completed. "What can we say about prewar intelligence without Kay's report?" Rockefeller asked.
Clearly Frist has put the kibosh on any further examination of the White House's handling of intelligence, and Roberts has agreed to this. His previous cooperation must, therefore, be the first item of dissent for the minority members.

Before he was strongarmed by the administration and its allies, Roberts agreed that the stovepiping was a proper subject for the committee's inquiry, and signed off on further requests for documents from the State Department and the Pentagon. Here's Roberts' stated perception of his role from his own Congressional website:
"As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, my job is to ensure that our Intelligence Community has the ability to protect the nation from threats at home and abroad. It is my goal to see that our intelligence agencies have cutting edge collection capabilities and perform accurate analysis of intelligence information so that we can win the war on terrorism."

Pat Roberts
Senator Roberts, this administration bypassed the efforts of the Intelligence Community to accurate analyze the intelligence information, interfering with their ability to protect the nation from threats at home and abroad. Their efforts to collect and accurately analyze intelligence information was tossed aside by an administration bent on war. Have you now joined them in this dereliction of duty?

What about the requested documents and interviews that will now not be considered or even reviewed or conducted by the SSCI? This should be the second item of dissent. There is more work to be done, and this committee is not being allowed to do it. When the stovepipe was put into place, the people behind it became a part of the Intelligence Community, and thus fell under the jurisdiction of the SSCI's inquiries:
Created pursuant to S.Res. 400, 94th Congress: to oversee and make continuing studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government, and to submit to the Senate appropriate proposals for legislation and report to the Senate concerning such intelligence activities and programs. In carrying out this purpose, the Select Committee on Intelligence shall make every effort to assure that the appropriate departments and agencies of the United States provide informed and timely intelligence necessary for the executive and legislative branches to make sound decisions affecting the security and vital interests of the Nation. It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Jurisdiction of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
When this administration bypassed the appropriate departments for analysis of intelligence, it fell into the jurisdiction of the SSCI.

Finally, the independent investigation must be called for immediately following the release of the report that Frist will manhandle out of the committee by year's end. It should be a bipartisan goal to see that our government doesn't act recklessly with biased and false information when the lives of our young men and women are on the line. Frist's stifling of appropriate inquiry by the SSCI shows just how political this fight for the truth has become, and the only recourse, barring the SCCI continuing its investigations unimpeded, is to have an independent investigation free from political influences.

As Mark 4:22 says: "Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open." Today, it's the stolen memo. Tomorrow, it will be the failings of the Bush administration. That is, if the nation's wounds ever stand a chance at being healed.