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Hinchey Leads Broad Congressional Coalition Calling For Expansion Of Plame Name Leak Investigation
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2005
Hinchey Leads Broad Congressional Coalition
Calling For Expansion Of Plame Name Leak Investigation
Forty-One Members Of Congress Ask Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald To Examine
Bush Administration's False Uranium Claims That Led To Disclosure Of CIA Operative's Identity To Determine If Additional Federal Laws Were Broken
Washington, D.C. - Troubled by what they see as violations of federal law that prohibit making false and fraudulent statements to Congress, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and 40 of his House colleagues today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asking that he expand his investigation of who in the Bush Administration revealed to the news media that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a covert agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Hinchey and his colleagues urged Fitzgerald, who was designated as special prosecutor for the case, to examine the causes behind the exposure of Plame's identity -- specifically, the Bush Administration's false and fraudulent claims in January 2003 that Iraq had sought uranium for a nuclear weapon, which the Administration used as one of the key grounds to justify the invasion of Iraq.
"In order to fully investigate the disclosure of an undercover CIA agent's identity, it is clear that you should fully investigate the reasons for that disclosure," Hinchey and his colleagues wrote to Fitzgerald. "As we outline below, we believe that members of the Administration may have violated laws governing communications with Congress with respect to assertions about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. Ambassador Wilson’s efforts to publicly contradict these assertions seem to be the reason for the uncovering of Mrs. Wilson’s identity. It is very likely that you would encounter these assertions during the course of your investigation, and thus their legality should be the subject of your investigation."
Between January 20 and January 29, 2003, the Administration made a series of claims - which are now known to be false - that Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. These claims were at the very core of the president's final justification for war, and apparently were made despite broad internal disagreement over their veracity. Joseph Wilson then exposed the Administration's lies in his New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003. The desire to discredit Ambassador Wilson is the nearly-universally accepted motive behind the leaking of his wife's identity.
It is fully possible that the Bush Administration's claims of an Iraq-Niger connection were illegal - especially given the venues at which the claims were delivered (including President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address before Congress). That fact, when combined with the link between the Administration's behavior and the subsequent exposure of Mrs. Wilson, is sufficient justification for Mr. Fitzgerald to expand his efforts.
"The...matters [in our letter] are clearly related to your current investigation," Hinchey and his colleagues wrote to Fitzgerald. "Ambassador Wilson's op-ed article focused on the uranium claim made in the 2003 State of the Union Address and he concluded that 'intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.' You are investigating whether any laws were violated when Administration officials - in order to discredit Wilson’s claim and/or to retaliate against him - leaked to the press the fact that his wife was a CIA agent. As set forth in this letter, Wilson’s original charge that the Administration "twisted" the evidence concerns matters that are just as criminal as the Administration’s attempts to discredit Wilson and his charge by revealing the identity of Mrs. Wilson as a CIA operative."
Hinchey said, "Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation holds grave implications for the safety of our C.I.A. operatives, the freedom of our press, and the accountability of our current executive branch leadership. The laws that high-level members of the Bush Administration may very well have violated are of a very serious nature on their own. However, when you take into account that these laws may have been broken in order to commence a major war, it becomes clear that action must be taken to punish those who misled the Congress and the American people. We have American men and women dying in Iraq on a daily basis because people in this Administration fabricated or manipulated intelligence on uranium that was used as a key reason for justifying the war. This is wholly unacceptable and I believe that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has the authority and the responsibility to investigate these possible criminal violations."
The 40 other House members who signed Hinchey's letter to Fitzgerald are: Congressmen Neil Abercrombie (HI-01), Tammy Baldwin (WI-02), Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), John Conyers, Jr. (MI-14), Sam Farr (CA-17), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-04), Michael M. Honda (CA-15), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-02), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (MI-13), Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10), Barbara Lee (CA-09), Jim McDermott (WA-07) James P. McGovern (MA-03), Cynthia McKinney (GA-04), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14), Doris Matsui (CA-05), George Miller (CA-07), James P. Moran (VA-08), Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Richard E. Neal (MA-02), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Donald M. Payne (NJ-10), Charles B. Rangel (NY-15), Martin Olav Sabo (MN-05), Bernard Sanders (VT-AL), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), José E. Serrano (NY-16), Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Hilda L. Solis (CA-32), Fortney Pete Stark (CA-13), Edolphus Towns (NY-10) Maxine Waters (CA-35), Lynn Woolsey (CA-06), David Wu (OR-01), and Albert R. Wynn (MD-04) (plus one unrecognizable signature).
The full text of the letter to Fitzgerald (minus footnotes), which includes details on the laws that Bush Administration officials possibly violated, follows:
September 15, 2005
United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Re: Request To Expand Investigation
Dear United States Attorney Fitzgerald:
We hereby request that you expand your investigation regarding who in the Bush Administration revealed to the press that Valerie Wilson, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.). We believe that expansion should include investigating the Administration’s false and fraudulent claims in January 2003 that Iraq had sought uranium for a nuclear weapon, which the Administration offered as one of the key grounds to justify the war against Iraq.
President Bush made two uranium claims, one in his State of the Union Address to Congress and another in a report that he submitted to Congress concerning Iraq, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made three other uranium claims. We request that you investigate whether such claims violated two criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C., Sec. 1001 and 18 U.S.C., Sec. 371, that prohibit making false and fraudulent statements to Congress and obstructing the functions of Congress.
You have broad discretion to conduct this investigation. The issues we raise are directly related to your current investigation and clearly fall under your authority. The desire to discredit the information provided by Ambassador Wilson regarding the lack of evidence to support the Administration's contention that Iraq sought uranium from Niger is the nearly-universally accepted motive behind the leak of Mrs. Wilson's identity. In order to fully investigate the disclosure of an undercover CIA agent's identity, it is clear that you should fully investigate the reasons for that disclosure.
As we outline below, we believe that members of the Administration may have violated laws governing communications with Congress with respect to assertions about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. Ambassador Wilson’s efforts to publicly contradict these assertions seem to be the reason for the uncovering of Mrs. Wilson’s identity. It is very likely that you would encounter these assertions during the course of your investigation, and thus their legality should be the subject of your investigation.
The Administration’s Claims About Iraq Seeking Uranium Were False And Fraudulent
The uranium claims of the Administration in January 2003 that Iraq had sought uranium for a nuclear weapon were shown to be false because, after intensive post war investigations, the Iraq Survey Group found no evidence that Iraq had sought the uranium. In the months prior to the war, weapons inspectors of the United Nations (U.N.) conducted extensive inspections in Iraq and found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons program. The Administration has never produced any legitimate actual evidence that Iraq had sought the uranium.
The uranium claims were also fraudulent because although some in the American intelligence community (including the C.I.A.) may have agreed at the time with the British opinion that Iraq had sought uranium, numerous people within the Administration did not tell the whole truth consisting of the contrary views held by the best informed U.S. intelligence officials. C.I.A. Director George Tenet told the White House in October 2002 that C.I.A. analysts believed the reporting on the uranium claim was “weak