House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations
The House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations is responsible for Congressional oversight of the increasingly complex linkages between diplomacy, terrorism and homeland security functions of the US federal government. Among its more important functions is to act as a watchdog on the executive branch.
In furtherance of that function, Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney, Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich directly challenged U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney with official requests for information on July 21, 2003, and September 14, 2003.
In the latter, they directly ask twelve questions related to a speech Cheney gave at the American Enterprise Institute where he referred to the
- "already proven false assertion that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. In order to legitimize the war, you cited findings listed in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), some of which had been refuted months before you cited them.
- "Most recently, on September 14, 2003, after almost a year of repeating the claim, you finally admitted the inaccuracy of your previous assertions on Iraq's nuclear capabilities when you appeared on Meet the Press. The chronology shows that you knew or should have known that the claim was false when you first made it on Meet the Press in March 2003. We would like to inquire as to why your admission took so long to be made publicly. We would also like answers to our previous questions about your role in the dissemination of the nuclear uranium claim."
They allege "unusual" personal visits by the Vice President to CIA analysts.
- "Normally, Vice Presidents, yourself included, receive regular briefings from CIA in your office and have a CIA officer on permanent detail. In other words, there is no reason for the Vice President to make personal visits to CIA analysts. According to the [Washington] Post, your unprecedented visits created 'an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives.'"
They also ask for a response "concerning a request by the Vice President to investigate intelligence of Niger uranium sale, revealing forgery one year ago" and a "speech by the Vice President to the American Enterprise Institute on July 25, 2003," where the Representatives claim that
- "in your attempt to legitimize the cause for war with Iraq, you cited intelligence...that had already been refuted before you spoke. Even more disturbing is that it was your office, the Office of the Vice President, that learned of the false uranium story seven months before the NIE was written and issued in October 2002.
- "Furthermore, questions have been raised about the intent of the drafting of the NIE document. Former CIA-analyst Ray McGovern, in an article printed in The Miami Herald on August 8, 2003 wrote:
- "Start with the fact that there was no NIE before the decision for war last summer. Such decisions are supposed to be based on the conclusions of NIEs, not the other way around. This time the process was reversed... The marketing rollout for the war was keynoted by the vice president, who in a shrill speech on Aug. 26 charged, 'Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.' A NIE was then ordered up, essentially to support the extreme judgments voiced by Cheney, and its various drafts were used effectively to frighten members of Congress into voting to authorize war."
Apparently at least some members of Congress are no longer frightened. This direct challenge may be part of a strategy to embarass or to impeach Cheney.
NOTE: The Ray McGovern Miami Herald article was published on August 5, 2003, not August 8th.
- Raymond McGovern, The Paper Trail To War, Tom Paine reprint, August 8, 2003; originally published August 5, 2003 by the Miami Herald as Intelligence shouldn't exist just to serve policy. August 5, 2003, article is also available on CounterPunch.
- W. House Nuke Defense Shifting, CBSNews.com, July 24, 2003.
- Timothy Noah, Cheney Wraps His Glutes in the Flag. It's not unpatriotic to wonder why the president lied, MSN.com, July 24, 2003.
- Amy Goodman, Cheney's Counterspin, GuerillaNews, July 26, 2003.
- More Questions For Cheney, Truthout Letter to Dick Cheney, September 17, 2003.