Friday, November 07, 2003

Taking their ball and going home...

But wait a minute...In a government by the people and for the people, isn't it our frigging ball?

Frist Freezes Senate Probe of Prewar Iraq Data

Angry about a leaked Democratic memo, the Republican leadership of the Senate yesterday took the unusual step of canceling all business of the committee investigating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on the author of the memo -- which laid out a possible Democratic strategy to extend the investigation to include the White House and executive branch -- to "identify himself or herself . . . disavow this partisan attack in its entirety" and deliver "a personal apology" to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Only if those steps are taken, Frist said, "will it be possible for the committee to resume its work in an effective and bipartisan manner -- a manner deserving of the confidence of other members of the Senate and the executive branch."

Roberts followed Frist on the floor and said that unless the Democratic members "properly" address the issue, "I am afraid that it will be impossible to return to 'business as usual' in the committee."

A committee meeting scheduled for yesterday was canceled, and none has been scheduled for next week, according to a senior committee staff member.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), the committee's ranking Democrat, said he was "really disappointed" with the Republican action. "Whose advantage is it to derail asking the tough questions on prewar intelligence and the use and misuse of it?" he asked.

To whose advantage is it? Obviously the administration's.

The GOP move follows a month of extraordinary maneuvering by Democrats and Republicans to take political advantage of the committee's look at how the intelligence community collected and analyzed intelligence on Iraq over the past decade.

Yesterday, Frist appeared to close the door entirely on the Democrats' wishes. 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.

If we had a fair, objective and responsible media, much less a liberal one, this would not stand.

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