Henry WaxmanHenry Waxman is clearly loving his access to information now that he’s no longer in the minority. Here’s a chunk of a letter he sent to Rice today. You can read the whole thing, including the footnotes, as a .pdf file if you like.

Since 2003, I have been asking why President Bush and other top Administration officials used fabricated intelligence about lraq’s efforts to obtain uranium from Niger to justify launching the Iraq war. I first wrote to the President about this matter on March 17, 2003, two days before the start of the Iraq war. In my letter, I asked why the President had included the bogus Niger claim in his January 28, 2003, State of the Union address, the most heavily vetted speech a president makes. I wrote:

In the last ten days … it has become incontrovertibly clear that a key piece of evidence you and other Administration officials have cited regarding Iraq’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons is a hoax. What’s more, the Central Intelligence Agency questioned the veracity of the evidence at the same time you and other Administration officials were citing it in public statements. This is a breach of the highest order, and the American people are entitled to know how it happened.

To this day, however, I have not received an adequate explanation to my question. The President did not respond to my letter, nor did you respond to multiple letters I sent you about this matter.

Soon after the bogus Niger claim was exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, you appeared on national television and claimed that you were never informed of any doubts about the allegation. On Meet the Press on June 8, 2003, you made the following statement:

We did not know at the time – no one knew at the time, in our circles – maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.

Similarly, when you appeared on This Week, you repeated this statement, claiming that you made multiple inquiries of the intelligence agencies regarding the allegation that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. You stated:

George, somebody, somebody down may have known. But I will tell you that when this issue was raised with the intelligence community … the intelligence community did not know at that time, or at levels that got to us, that this, that there were serious questions about this report.

After you made these assertions, I wrote to you on June 10,2003, asking for specific information to support your claims, including the identity of any individuals in the Administration who had expressed doubts about the validity of the evidence or who were made aware of any doubts, as well as other information. You did not respond.

In the weeks that followed, you and President Bush continued to claim that you had never heard any doubts about the Niger claim prior to the President’s State of the Union address. On July 13, 2003, for example, you made this statement on Face the Natíon:

[H]ad there been even a peep that the agency did not want that sentence in or that George Tenet did not want that sentence in … it would have been gone.

The next day, President Bush made a similar assertion. At a press briefing on July 14, 2003, the President stated: “Subsequent to the speech, the CIA had some doubts. But when they talked about the speech and when they looked at the speech, it was cleared.”

It was subsequently revealed, however, that the CIA had sent a memo directly to you and your deputy at the time, Stephen Hadley, raising doubts about the Niger claim months before the President’s State of the Union address. According to Mr. Hadley, the CIA sent a memo directly to the White House Situation Room addressed to you and him on October 6, 2002, that described “weakness in the evidence” and that stated “the CIA had been telling Congress that the Africa story was one of two issues where we differed with the British intelligence.”‘ Mr. Hadley also reported that the CIA sent a second memo to him a day earlier, and that George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, personally telephoned him to ask that the reference be removed from a speech the President delivered in October 2002.

Because these revelations directly contradicted your previous public statements, I wrote to you again, on July 29, 2003, seeking an explanation. I requested copies of numerous documents, including the CIA memo addressed to you and Mr. Hadley. I also sought information about what kind of investigation you initiated after you learned that the Niger documents were forgeries, and I asked what role you and your staff played in drafting the National Intelligence Estimate submitted to Congress on this issue. Again, you did not respond.

As a result of your failure to respond, the Committee still does not know what you knew about the fabricated Niger claim and when you knew it. We also do not know how the fabricated claim made it into the President’s State of the Union address. We continue to learn in a piecemeal fashion about other explicit wamings received by White House officials about this bogus claim. According to one recent press account, for example, CIA briefer Craig R. Schmall wrote a memo to Eric Edelman, Vice President Cheney’s national security advisor, warning that the “CIA on several occasions has cautioned … that available information on this issue was fragmentary and unconfirmed.” Yet we still do not know who at the White House kept resuscitating this claim after intelligence officials questioned its veracity.

I respectfully request a complete reply to my questions and document requests relating to the fabricated Niger claim by March 23, 2007.

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