Dems Press for Iraq Investigation
Toward A Unified Field Theory of the Fraud?
Senator Harry Reid, backed by Senators Charles Schumer and Debbie Stabenow, invoked an arcane rule of the senate allowing it to be closed on Tuesday. Reid and the Democrats were protesting the inaction of the Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Pat Roberts (R-Kan), which has been investigating failures of prewar intelligence on Iraq but has never issued its formal report on Phase II. A compromise was worked out whereby a bipartisan panel will do up a report within two weeks. Roberts insists that his own committee is making progress and dismisses the new panel as irrelevant.
The Democrats are trying to force the issue in the wake of the indictment of Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Irving Lewis Libby, on perjury charges. Libby was among those who hyped Iraq WMD reports, and he had attempted to foist a lot of shaky information on Colin Powell, for whom he wrote the speech to be delivered at the United Nations justifying the war in winter 2003. (Even with a lot of the crazier charges taken out, the speech Powell gave was greeted with open derision at the UN).
As the ever astute Steve Clemons notes, the demand by Reid that Karl Rove be fired is gaining traction, with even Republican Senator Trent Lott acknowledging the case for it. Rove, Bush’s political adviser, clearly passed the name of an undercover CIA operative (Valerie Plame Wilson) to the press, which was certainly unethical and probably illegal. Lott knows that as long as Rove is in the White House, the rotten-eggs odor of treason will cloak the Republican Party. (Plame Wilson has gotten death threats from al-Qaeda, so Rove may as well have just called up Bin Laden and said, “Guess who we’ve got working to stop weapons proliferation? And by the way, here is her name and address.” You would keep a man like that in the White House why?)
Newsday’s article has this tantalizing sentence: Roberts “cited two possible roadblocks: the half-done job of analyzing more than 500 prewar intelligence claims and probing the role played by Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy who pushed vigorously for an invasion of Iraq based on flawed intelligence.”
Laura Rozen has reported on the stalled state of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Feith and his “Office of Special Plans,” as well as of meetings by Feith employees Lawrence Franklin and Harold Rhode with Iranian arms dealer and notorious fraudster Manucher Ghorbanifar in Rome (with the Italian Defense Secretary and the head of Italian Military Intelligence also in attendance). When Rockefeller brought up the possibility that the Rome meeting was illegal, Feith and his office abruptly ceased cooperating in the investigation. Feith has now left the Pentagon for private life, presumably to forestall further investigations of his activities in manufacturing a case for the Iraq War. His Iran desk officer, Lawrence Franklin, has pleaded guilty to espionage for Israel via the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
So how might the investigation of Feith’s office (which is apparently dead in the water given that the Republicans on the committee would probably decline to issue subpoenas) delay the phase two conclusions that Roberts should be producing? Feith and the Office of Special Plans were central to these conclusions. If he and his employees are stonewalling, and if Roberts won’t subpoena them or threaten them with contempt of Congress, then it is hard to see how any progress can be made.
A proper Senate investigation offers the tantalizing possibility of a Unified Field Theory of the Iraq War fraud. That is, Feith’s Office of Special Plans, Franklin’s Pentagon espionage cell on behalf of the Likud Party in Israel, and Libby’s campaign against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame Wilson could all be shown to be inter-related. At the center of the conspiracy were a group of hawks determined to set the United States in motion to fight wars against Iraq, Syria and Iran; for the Neoconservatives among them, these wars would leave the Likud Party free to pursue its expansionist ambitions.