"This past weekend, we witnessed the indictment of the I. Lewis Libby, the Vice Presidentâs Chief of Staff and a senior Advisor to President Bush. Libby is the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years. This indictment raises very serious charges. It asserts this Administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant.
The decision to place U.S. soldiers in harmâs way is the most significant responsibility the Constitution invests in the Congress. The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.
As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administrationâs mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies. And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.
Letâs take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq. The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.
There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddamâs alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.
The American people were warned time and again by the President, the Vice President, and the current Secretary of State about Saddamâs nuclear weapons capabilities. The Vice President said Iraq âhas reconstituted its nuclear weapons.â Playing upon the fears of Americans after September 11, these officials and others raised the specter that, left unchecked, Saddam could soon attack America with nuclear weapons.
Obviously we know now their nuclear claims were wholly inaccurate. But more troubling is the fact that a lot of intelligence experts were telling the Administration then that its claims about Saddamâs nuclear capabilities were false.
The situation was very similar with respect to Saddamâs links to Al Qaeda. The Vice President told the American people, 'We know heâs out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons and we know he has a longstanding relationship with various terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda organization.'
The Administrationâs assertions on this score have been totally discredited. But again, the Administration went ahead with these assertions in spite of the fact that the governmentâs top experts did not agree with these claims.
What has been the response of this Republican-controlled Congress to the Administrationâs manipulation of intelligence that led to this protracted war in Iraq? Basically nothing. Did the Republican-controlled Congress carry out its constitutional obligations to conduct oversight? No. Did it support our troops and their families by providing them the answers to many important questions? No. Did it even attempt to force this Administration to answer the most basic questions about its behavior? No.
Unfortunately the unwillingness of the Republican-controlled Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities is not limited to just Iraq. We see it with respect to the prisoner abuse scandal. We see it with respect to Katrina. And we see it with respect to the cronyism and corruption that permeates this Administration.