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Nadler Demands Judiciary Hearings on White House Effort to Market the War
CONGRESSMAN JERROLD NADLER
8th Congressional District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Reid Cherlin
October 31, 2005 202-225-5635
Letter to Chairman Sensenbrenner calls for committee investigation into
whether Administration deliberately and illegally misled Congress in order
to make a case for war
"The question now before the Committee is whether the CIA leak itself was
part of an effort to cover up a broader conspiracy to mislead Congress
into authorizing a war."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Jerrold Nadler today demanded the House
Judiciary Committee investigate whether White House officials deliberately
deceived Congress in order to obtain its authorization of the war in Iraq.
In a letter to Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. calling for
hearings, Congressman Nadler cited new evidence from the investigation led
by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, as well as evidence compiled from
media reports, that the Bush Administration knowingly marketed the war
with fictitious evidence. It was originally expected that Fitzgerald
would issue a final report, detailing all of his findings.
"Now that he has declined to do so," Congressman Nadler wrote, "there is
even greater need for hearings that will air the facts in a public forum.
"The American people deserve to know what really happened in the months
preceding the war in Iraq," Nadler continued. "If, in fact, criminal
activity occurred, those responsible must be held accountable."
Congressman Nadler's letter draws on the following evidence:
--> The formation of the "White House Iraq Group" at a time when the
Administration told the public it had not made a decision to go to war.
--> The allegation in the "Downing Street Memo" that intelligence was
"being fixed around the policy."
--> The Fitzgerald investigation's finding that Administration officials
engaged in an active effort to discredit claims that the stated
justification for war - Saddam Hussein's imminent acquisition of WMDs -
--> Efforts by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to misrepresented to the media the
scope and nature of what the U.S. intelligence community knew and didn't
know about Iraq's weapons programs.
--> President Bush's infamous reference to African uranium in the 2003
State of the Union address.
The full text of Congressman Nadler's letter to Chairman Sensenbrenner
October 31, 2005
The Honorable James Sensenbrenner
House Judiciary Committee
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
The recent indictment handed down by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald,
and other significant evidence that has recently come to light, indicate
that the President, Vice President, or other members of the Bush
Administration may have deliberately and illegally misled Congress in
order to make a case for war. I am urging you to schedule hearings to
investigate this evidence and determine whether the President or other
persons in his administration may have committed crimes in connection with
the campaign to lead the nation into war.
We originally expected that Special Counsel Fitzgerald would issue a final
report detailing all of the findings from his two-year investigation. Now
that he has declined to do so, there is even greater need for hearings
that will air the facts in a public forum.
Mounting evidence indicates that the Bush administration may have
distorted, or intentionally misrepresented, key intelligence, specifically
that Saddam Hussein was actively, and imminently, preparing to acquire
weapons of mass destruction. It was this purported evidence that was used
to persuade Congress and the American people that preemptive war was
necessary, and that our nation could not afford to wait.
There is mounting evidence, including evidence collected by Special
Counsel Fitzgerald, that members of the Bush Administration may have
deliberately and, therefore, illegally misled Congress. The question now
before the Committee is whether the CIA leak itself was part of an effort
to cover up a broader conspiracy to mislead Congress into authorizing a
The Judiciary Committee has thus far refused to investigate these
important questions. I believe we can no longer neglect our duty to do so.
True or false, the American people have a right to know what really
happened in the months preceding the war in Iraq. If, in fact, criminal
activity occurred, those responsible must be held accountable.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee who opposed the extension of the
independent counsel law, I have long recognized the danger of
unaccountable, open-ended investigations. Accusations of presidential
wrongdoing must not be made carelessly. Investigations of this sort must
be reserved for only the most serious allegations. Lying to Congress in
order to obtain its support for a war certainly meets that test. If the
most serious charges prove true, they would almost certainly rise to the
level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Although the Senate Intelligence Committee began an investigation of some
of these questions several months ago, it has yet to indicate what, if
any, progress it has made. It has yet to fulfill its promise to hold
hearings after the 2004 on whether the administration deliberately
misrepresented the intelligence used to justify the war. It is up to the
House Judiciary Committee to launch an investigation of our own. The
alleged wrongdoing is plainly within our jurisdiction.
Our hearings should focus on the evidence that members of the Bush
Administration may have deliberately and, therefore, illegally misled
Congress. Some of this evidence is as follows:
1) We now know that during the summer of 2002, at a time when the
White House maintains that no decision had been made to go to war, the
Bush Administration created the "White House Iraq Group" whose sole
purpose appears to have been to market and sell a decision to go to war to
Congress. It appears that this group specifically sought to deceive
Congress about the intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction.
(New York Daily News, Oct. 19, 2005.) The Judiciary Committee should seek
testimony from members of the White House Iraq Group.
2) We now know from the so-called "Downing Street Memo," that
senior members of the British Government who had conferred with senior
Administration officials had concluded that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam,
through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and
WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
(Emphasis added.) The Judiciary Committee should seek testimony from the
author of the Downing Street Memo and from the members of the Bush
Administration who participated in these meetings.
3) We now know that the December 2001 National Intelligence
Estimate said Iraq had no program to obtain nuclear weapons. In spite of
this report, the President and other Administration spokesman continuously
warned about the perils of the Iraqis' nuclear programs that our own
intelligence services reported did not exist. The Judiciary Committee
should seek testimony on this apparent campaign to mislead Congress and
the American people.
4) We now know that President Bush included in his January 2003,
State of the Union Address a reference to previously discredited reports
that Iraq seeking uranium from Niger. In fact, references to the
purported Niger connection had been deleted from earlier speeches
precisely because the C.I.A. did not think the reports credible. The
reference was only included after the intelligence was attributed to
British, rather than American, reports. The Judiciary Committee should
seek testimony directly from the President and from anyone else who helped
prepare his State of the Union Address.
5) We now know from Special Counsel Fitzgerald's investigation
that there was an orchestrated campaign to smear and discredit Ambassador
Joseph Wilson, who attempted to tell the truth about some of the faulty
"evidence" used by the White House to make its case for war. Although Mr.
Fitzgerald's investigation has yet to determine whether a crime can be
proven to have been committed by any Administration official in leaking
the identity of Wilson's wife as a covert CIA operative, it is abundantly
clear that the White House Iraq Group was engaged in an effort to
discredit Ambassador Wilson's revelations, and to intimidate others
tempted to reveal the truth. According to sources quoted by The New York
Daily News, this group of White House officials was "so determined . . .
to win its argument that it morphed into a virtual hit squad that took aim
at critics who questioned its claims." (New York Daily News, October 19,
2005.) Again, the Judiciary Committee should seek testimony from the
White House Iraq Group and from Ambassador Wilson himself.
6) We now know that one of the alleged lies Mr. Libby told to in
the Plame investigation was that the source from which he obtained Ms.
Plame's identity was not a journalist, but the Vice President. If true,
this would appear to have been a deliberate attempt to conceal the Vice
President's role in the Plame matter.
7) We now know that top Administration officials, including Vice
President Cheney's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, misrepresented to the
media the scope and nature of what the U.S. intelligence community knew
and didn't know about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs before the war.
(Newsweek.com, Oct. 19, 2005.) Manufacturing of media complicity, if
achieved through a deliberate plan to provide false information, would
have played a key role in misleading Congress and the American people. We
need to know more about the relationship between Administration officials
and certain media outlets in view of details emerging from this
investigation regarding the special access to Administration officials.
We ought to examine whether or not the Bush Administration provided
potentially classified information to Judith Miller of The New York Times,
which led to clearly erroneous stories supporting the Administration's
false claims regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The Judiciary
Committee ought to hear sworn testimony from I. Lewis Libby, Karl Rove,
and Judith Miller.
With this growing body of evidence that the White House may have
deliberately misled Congress into authorizing war, a broader independent
investigation is clearly necessary and the House Judiciary Committee has
proven itself capable of investigating the White House in minute detail in
the not so distant past over matters of much less national significance
than the matters discussed above.
Special Counsel Fitzgerald has done a great service to the nation thus far
by investigating the CIA leak, but real questions remain. Specifically,
was the CIA leak incident an effort to enforce discipline as part of a
much broader criminal conspiracy by members of the Bush Administration to
deceive Congress about a matter of war and peace? Who was involved? Were
any of their actions criminal?
These questions go to the core of the functioning of democratic self-
government in the United States. Honest, if mistaken, reliance on faulty
intelligence to convince Congress to authorize a war is bad enough. If, as
mounting evidence now seems to indicate, Administration officials
deliberately deceived Congress and the American people, this would
constitute a criminal conspiracy against the entire country.
It is self-evident that the Administration cannot investigate itself in
this matter. I therefore urge you to begin a formal investigation by the
House Judiciary Committee into these matters crucial to our national
security and national integrity.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your
Jerrold Nadler Member of Congress
Jerrold Nadler has served in Congress since 1992. He represents New
York's 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Manhattan and