The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday ramped up its investigation of the Bush administration, subpoenaing the testimony of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan as well as e-mails White House officials composed on RNC accounts.
The committee voted 21-10 to subpoena Rice as part of its investigation of the administration's assertion that Iraq sought to purchase uranium in Africa - a claim that was used to justify going to war in Iraq.
No surprise that Tom Davis (Pay to Play-VA) voted against it, accoding to a Committee staffer who answer the phone at the office at 5:20 today. Neighbor Chris Van Hollen (Accountability-MD) voted for answers.
More from the Hill and Waxman:
"For four years, I have been trying to get information from Condoleezza Rice on a variety of issues, including the reference to uranium and Niger in the president's 2003 State of the Union speech," Waxman said.
"In the last seven weeks, I have sent four letters to Secretary Rice and received three responses from her staff," he said. "My request is simple: I would like Secretary Rice to suggest a date that would be convenient for her to testify before our committee."
Can you verify that Waxman and his Committee have actually issued the subpoena? Or is Waxman now merely "authorized" to issue the subpoena, and in fact will continue to try to pin Secretary Rice down to a specific date for her "voluntary" testimony before actually handing her a subpoena?
I suspect that Rice would simply ignore the subpoena, and the issue would then be tied up in the courts for many months as the Administration claims "executive privilege."
Rice and the Administration are extremely vulnerable on the "yellowcake" story. Every sentient senior official in WDC should have known that the "yellowcake from Niger to Iraq" story was a fabrication. That Bush, Cheney, and Rice nonetheless continued to push the story is rather strong evidence to support the charge that they were intent on using pretexts for launching a classical war of aggression against Iraq.
As U.S. prosecutors argued so persuasively at the Nuremberg trials, launching a war of aggression is a war crime. Perhaps it is time for U.S. prosecutors to dust off that argument.
This charge could be the one that ultimately brings down the whole White House cabal, starting with everyone on the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which conceived and executed the propaganda campaign used to justify the invasion of Iraq. WHIG members included Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio, Condoleezza Rice (in her NSC role), Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby. Andrew Card and Dan Bartlett may have been involved in some sessions. Hmmm. Would one of them accept immunity in return for truthful testimony?
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed records of the WHIG in March, 2004 (after having asked for them in January, 2004), but it is unclear whether they were actually delivered, or delivered in full response to the subpoena.
On a party-line vote of 21-10, the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a subpoena for Rice, which was quickly issued.
"When Specialist Tillman's mother, Mary, was asked what gaps there were in the public record, she pointed to the large ring binder sitting on the table in front of her.
" 'See this binder?' she said to Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA)."
His brother also pointed out, astutely, that it was in the interest of the Republican majority to keep the falsehood spinning:
"Based on how a lot of these wars are perception based, it's imperative that the committee take a look," Tillman argued. "[Politicians were] the ones who ultimately benefited from that story."
Well, she really can't because lying under oath is a serious offense.
"This is an issue that has been answered and answered and answered ... but if there are further questions that Congressman Waxman has then I am more than happy to answer them again in a letter because I think that that is the way to continue this dialogue," she told reporters in Oslo*** "But there is a constitutional principle. This all took place in my role as national security adviser and there is a separation of powers and advisers to the president are -- under that constitutional principle -- not generally required to go and testify in Congress," she added. "So I think we have to observe and uphold constitutional principle."
Rice, who served as White House national security adviser when the administration made the claim, ignored a specific question about whether she would comply with the subpoena.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack later said no decision had been made on the matter.
His remarks coincide with a coordinated assault by Republicans in the House, criticizing Waxman on a range of topics because of his determination to question Rice, one leadership aide said.
"This is not only an overreach; it's disruptive," Davis said. "This is nothing but a partisan witch hunt."