Congressional Record: June 11, 2003 (Extensions)
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                         HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                              of michigan

                    in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, June 10, 2003

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, my service in this House has often shown me 
the profound tension between government secrecy and democratic 
decision-making. Rarely however, has that tension been as starkly posed 
as in the current revelations of divergence between President Bush's 
assertions based on ``secret information'' about the alleged threat to 
America posed by Iran and the actual assessment of that threat by 
America's intelligence professionals.
  I have seen the American people apparently deceived into supporting 
invasion of sovereign nation, in violation of UN charter and 
international law, on the basis of what now appear to be false 
assurances. The power of the Congress to declare war was usurped. The 
consent of the governed was obtained by manipulation rather than candid 
  Instead of conducting a sustained all-out war against the genuine 
terrorists behind 9/11, President Bush chose to terrorize the American 
people. The President, Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld 
painted lurid nightmares of al Qaeda's attacking U.S. cities with 
insidious anthrax or clouds of deadly nerve gas. All of this was 
portrayed as coming courtesy of Saddam Hussein, unless we destroyed the 
Iraq regime. They also wielded the ultimate threat that Iraq would 
imminently endanger America and our closest allies with nuclear 
weapons. Members of Congress who voiced deep distrust of those claims 
were privately briefed with even more vivid descriptions of the deadly 
threats that Saddam posed to American security.
  In public speech after speech, the President and his supporting 
players assured America's anxious citizens that attacking Iraq was 
absolutely necessary to prevent the imminent threat of Iraq's weapons 
of mass destruction from harming them and their loved ones.
  In addition, President Bush was determined to convince the public 
that Saddam was personally behind, or at least intimately involved in 
9/11. He and Vice President Cheney repeated that mantra incessantly. No 
wonder that about half of the country still believes that Saddam was 
involved, although our intelligence community has emphasized that there 
is no credible evidence that is true.
  The manipulation was massive and malicious. The motive was simple. 
The Administration wanted to attack Iraq for a variety of ideological 
and geopolitical reasons. But the President knew that the American 
people would not willingly risk shedding the blood of thousands of 
Americans and Iraqis without the immediate threat of deadly attack on 
the United States. As Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz recently 
admitted to an interviewer in an unguarded moment, when the threat of 
weapons of mass destruction was chosen as the banner to lead a march to 
war, it was chosen for ``bureaucratic reasons,'' not because the danger 
was imminent or paramount.
  The President and his Cabinet were well aware that these claims 
either rested on flimsy projections or came from sources that most of 
our Intelligence Community disdained. The President and his Cabinet 
knew that in some cases those discredited sources' assertions were 
flatly contradicted by the professional assessments of the intelligence 
Community experts at CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State 
Department, and were only supported by a rogue special office 
established under Secretary Rumsfeld precisely to ``find'' or 
reinterpret intelligence in order to support the Administration's 
determination to invade Iraq.
  When war came, our own military field commanders were surprised by 
the fierce, often deadly, resistance that our troops faced from 
Saddam's ``militia.'' We, and our British allies, were surprised when 
the Iraqi people in Basra and elsewhere did not rise up to welcome our 
troops with open arms. Most of all, our military commanders, the 
Congress and the American people all were surprised when no weapons of 
mass destruction (WMD) were found. Now, as each day passes, and no WMD 
has been found, that surprise has turned to suspicion, to concern and 
finally to outrage at the deception practiced by the Bush 
  In response, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary 
Rumsfeld, and their spokespersons have offered one excuse after 
another. As reporters and whistle-blowers have exposed the flaws in 
each excuse, the White House has scrambled to create another, with the 
confusing speed of a kaleidoscope's changing patterns. Law students are 
taught to plead in the alternative: ``I never borrowed your pot.'' 
``Besides, it wasn't cracked when I returned it.'' ``Anyway, it was not 
cracked when I borrowed it in the first place.'' The Bush 
Administration has learned that lesson well:

       The Bush White House assures us that weapons of mass 
     destruction will inevitably be found.
       At the same time, the Bush White House argues that they 
     never really said Iraq had such weapons in 2002, only that 
     they had programs to develop those weapons.
       Finally, the Bush White House argues that it doesn't matter 
     whether Iraq did or did not have such weapons posing a threat 
     to the United States, because Saddam was a repressive ruler 
     and its good that the world is rid of him.

  They cannot succeed with this shell game because they cannot outrun 
the truth. There are too many previous contradictory statements, too 
many reports leaked by outraged veteran intelligence analysts, and too 
great a record of established facts. The Administration's arrogantly 
crafted script is unraveling. President Bush and his courtiers now have 
learned the wisdom of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, who warned:

       ``Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to 

  Now, the Administration's final refuge is that the public thinks the 
war was justified even if no weapons are found. Obviously, those poll 
results reflect the American people's relief that our military's 
losses, and the loss of Iraqi civilians, regrettable as they are, have 
not been even greater. They reflect understandable revulsion at the 
horrors of Saddam's regime. Nevertheless, continued ethnic conflict and 
violence, ambushes of American soldiers, political disarray, 
malnutrition and disease mount daily in the aftermath of this ``easy 
war.'' Also, the Bush White House is forced to acknowledge the re-
emergence of al Qaeda's terrorist threat. So the American people have 
begun to focus on how badly it appears that they, and their 
congressional representatives, may have been misled by a president 
anxious to stampede America into war.
  In any event, regardless of the final tally on the war in Iraq, there 
is a growing awareness that this disturbing presidential conduct raises 
issues that transcend any particular hostilities in which America might 
engage. It raises the most profound constitutional questions. How can 
the separation of powers and checks and balances designed to protect 
our Republic continue to do, if the Executive can work its will through 
falsehood, deception and concealment?
  Equally pressing is a determination of the appropriate remedy, should 
the Administration's assurances to Congress and to the electorate prove 
to have been as knowingly false

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as now seems to be the case. In the days ahead, I shall consult with my 
colleagues, with legal scholars, political scientists and historians, 
in order to weigh the appropriate actions necessary to prevent this or 
any future Administration from usurping the power of Congress and the 
power of the people to decide public policy on the basis of accurate 
  An accurately informed public is the essence of our democracy. It is 
most essential on the ultimate question of peace or war. To deceive the 
Congress and the public about the facts underlying that momentous 
decision is to transgress one of the president's supreme constitutional 
responsibilities. I believe the House Committee on the Judiciary should 
consider whether this situation has reached that dimension.
  That question is especially acute at this time because President 
Bush's disturbing doctrine of ``preventive war'' means he plans to 
persuade the Congress and the electorate that additional ``preventive 
wars'' are necessary. Will that advocacy be based on deception and 
false statements, too? The prospect is frightening.
  Finally, I note the provocative analysis on this point recently 
offered by former Counsel to the President John Dean, who has carefully 
analyzed the nature and context of the President's many assertions 
about the threats allegedly posed by Iraq and the constitutional 
implications should they prove false upon further examination. It 
deserves wide dissemination.