WASHINGTON (Talon News) # On Tuesday, a memo from Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was leaked to the media. The memo outlines a strategy to use classified information against the Bush administration in the 2004 election.
The plan, first reported by nationally syndicated radio talk show host Sean Hannity, calls for Democrats to take advantage of the Republican committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) bipartisan tendencies before “pulling the trigger” on an investigation of their own. The memo describes how the minority can feign cooperation with the Republicans to gain access.
“We don’t know what we will find,” the memo states.
Roberts said that ranking member Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) indicated a low-level staffer produced the memo, a claim Roberts said “didn’t seem plausible.”
“The draft memo leaked to the press today was written by staff and was likely taken from a waste basket or through unauthorized computer access,” Rockefeller said in a press release. “The draft memo was not approved nor was it shared with any member of the Senate Intelligence Committee or anyone else.”
Roberts said that he considered the memo to be “a slap in the face.”
“It appears to be a political document,” Roberts added. “I’m upset about it”
The Kansas Republican judged the memo’s contents to be “an attack plan.” Roberts said that Republican senators would take the floor on Wednesday morning to express “outrage and indignation” and ask Democrat members to disavow the memo.
Roberts was unsure whether a Senate Ethics investigation would be initiated, but indicated the matter is far from settled.
Text of memo:
We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:
1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard.
For example, in addition to the President’s State of the Union speech, the chairman [Sen. Pat Roberts] has agreed to look at the activities of the office of the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, as well as Secretary Bolton’s office at the State Department.
The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and cosigns our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don’t know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. [We can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.]
2) Assiduously prepare Democratic ‘additional views’ to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it.
In that regard we may have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims. We will contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry.
The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an Independent Commission [i.e., the Corzine Amendment.]
3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration’s use of intelligence at any time. But we can only do so once.
The best time to do so will probably be next year, either:
A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report, thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public. Additional views on the interim report (1). The announcement of our independent investigation (2). And (3) additional views on the final investigation. Or:
B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue, we would attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the use of intelligence.
In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter footdragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman. We have independently submitted written requests to the DOD and we are preparing further independent requests for information.
SUMMARY: Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public’s concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading, if not flagrantly dishonest, methods and motives of senior administration officials who made the case for unilateral preemptive war.
The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration’s dubious motives.