John Kerry Presses for Foreign Relations Committee Hearings on Iraq Revelations in “State of Denial”by Pamela Leavey
In effort no doubt to take the heat off of recent allegations against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, she made a surprise visit to Baghdad today to support embattled PM Nouri Maliki and urge “the fragile Iraqi government to accelerate efforts on national reconciliation.”
John Kerry has been on the stump for various candidates in recent days and has spoken frequently about the allegations in Woodward’s book. Today, in light of recent revelations about the Bush Administration’s conduct of the Iraq War revealed in journalist Bob Woodward’s book ‘State of Denial’, Senator John Kerry asked Senator Richard Lugar, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to hold hearings as soon as possible on the Administration’s decision-making and responses to key intelligence.
Kerry specifically asked Lugar to investigate misleading Administration statements about the current state of sectarian violence, false statements about projected levels of violence in the future, ignoring requests for more troops from the generals in charge, and failing to respond to warnings about attacks on American soil in the weeks before 9/11 took place.
Below is the text of the letter Kerry sent Chairman Lugar today:
October 5, 2006
Senator Richard G. Lugar
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I write to request that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hold hearings, as soon as possible, on certain very troubling allegations made by Bob Woodward in connection with the release of his book entitled “State of Denial.” It is essential that Congress and the American public receive complete disclosure about these matters in order to guarantee proper accountability and ensure informed decision-making when it comes to Iraq and the war on terror.
Specifically, the following assertions require an in-depth examination by the Foreign Relations Committee, with testimony under oath from all witnesses with relevant information, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:
1. The Administration is misleading the American public about the violence in Iraq. Mr. Woodward’s allegations that (1) “The Bush administration is concealing the level of violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and the situation there is growing worse despite White House and pentagon claims of progress,” as reported in the Washington Post on September 29, 2006, and (2) that “There was a vast difference between what the White House and Pentagon knew about the situation in Iraq and what they were saying publicly”, as reported in the Washington Post on September 30, 2006, must be fully examined and evaluated.
2. The Administration is not being straightforward about the likelihood of increasing violence. Mr. Woodward’s allegation that “The assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon (saying) ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,”‘ as reported in the Washington Post on September 29, 2006, must be fully examined and evaluated. This is especially important given the recent surge in violence, which has seen 18 United States troops killed in the past 96 hours as IED attacks and suicide car bombings have reached an all time high.
3. The Administration ignored warnings of inadequate troops. Mr. Woodward’s allegation in State of Denial that “that Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, later briefed Ms. Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, her deputy, about the pressing need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq…[but] the White House did nothing in response,” as reported in the New York Times on September 29, 2006, must be fully examined and evaluated.
4. The Administration ignored warnings of an impending attack before 9/11. As reported in the Washington Post on October 2, 2006, Mr. Woodward alleges that on July 10, 2001, there was a “meeting in which George Tenet, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and his top counterterrorism aide Cofer Black sought to impress on Rice their fears that an attack on the United States was likely…The account said both Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice, who gave them a polite hearing and a “brush off’”.
Memories seem to differ on this matter, as Secretary Rice first claimed she did not remember the meeting, only to have it later confirmed by the State Department. It is necessary to understand the mistakes of the past in order to ensure they are not repeated, and having testimony from the parties under oath will help to sharpen recollections and clarify the exact nature of this important meeting.
The Foreign Relations Committee has a long history of performing meaningful oversight over the conduct of our nation’s foreign policy, and you deserve credit for the numerous informative hearings on Iraq that the Committee has held under your leadership. Conducting hearings into these matters is an important further step towards meeting our oversight obligations, and essential for correcting past mistakes and making America safer.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. I look forward to your response.
John F. Kerry