Congressional Record: June 27, 2003 (Extensions)
Page E1387-E1388

                        INTELLIGENCE ABOUT IRAQ


                          HON. HENRY A. WAXMAN

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, June 26, 2003

  Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation to 
establish the Independent Commission on Intelligence about Iraq. This 
Commission is necessary to restore the confidence of the American 
public and the international community regarding the Bush 
Administration's use of intelligence information about Iraq.
  I am joined in introducing this bill by Representative Martin Frost, 
Representative Ron Kind, and 20 other members who supported President 
Bush when he asked for congressional authorization to use force in 
Iraq. We were allies of the President when he wanted authority to go to 
war. And we are allies of the President today in the ongoing fight 
against terrorism.
  For us, this issue is not about whether we were right to go to war in 
Iraq. We voted for the war resolution. And it is not about whether 
biological or chemical weapons will ultimately be found in Iraq. 
Instead, we are introducing this bill because it is now clear we had an 
inexcusable breakdown in our intelligence system prior to the Iraq war. 
We need to know how and why this happened, so that we can make sure it 
never happens again.
  We need to know whether the breakdown was caused by problems within 
our intelligence agencies, and whether they failed to do their jobs 
competently and responsibly. If, as some in the Administration have 
hinted, essential information was withheld from the President, we need 
to discover who did that and hold them accountable.
  If we find that the intelligence community did their job well, then 
we need to know whether Bush Administration officials either ignored or 
misused the intelligence information. At the end of the day, regardless 
of the consequences, we need to know what went wrong.
  We can't avoid the responsibility. President Bush is leading us in a 
new doctrine of preemptive warfare. While there is obviously 
disagreement over the merits of this approach, there is unanimity that 
preemptive warfare's essential ingredient is accurate intelligence. It 
can't be founded on theory or suspicion--it needs fact. Without that, 
the world will be unable to distinguish preemptive warfare from 
ordinary aggression.
  The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have already begun the 
process of assessing the intelligence community's performance, and the 
Independent Commission we would create here would supplement that 
valuable effort.
  It appears, however, that the Intelligence Committees will not be 
assessing how the Bush Administration used the intelligence information 
it received. Representative Porter Goss, the Chairman of the House 
Intelligence Committee, said, ``I'm not going into what the customer 
did with the intelligence.'' I disagree with that approach, and that 
review will also be an important part of the Independent Commission's 

  It is profoundly important that the President, the Vice President, 
and other senior Administration officials accurately portray 
intelligence information. There is no question more grave than whether 
our Nation should go to war. When the topic is whether to commit our 
armed forces to battle, Congress and the American public need to able 
to rely unquestioningly on the accuracy and veracity of the information 
from the President and other Administration officials.
  Unfortunately, serious concerns have already been raised regarding 
how the Bush Administration handled intelligence information on threats 
posed by Iraq in the months leading up to the conflict. One of the main 
questions that has emerged is whether White House officials manipulated 
or deliberately ignored key intelligence on Iraq. The Administration's 
responses to date have been incomplete and inconsistent, and have 
raised a host of new questions.
  For months, I have been asking a simple question: Why did the 
President cite forged evidence about Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear 
materials from Africa in his State of the Union address?
  Yet I have been unable to get an answer to this basic question. 
Instead, the Administration has provided only murky and conflicting 
explanations regarding the use of forged evidence by the President and 
other top Administration officials.
  The first Administration explanation, as described in the Washington 
Post on March 8, 2003, was ``we fell for it.''
  But we now know that wasn't true. Multiple press accounts have 
reported that CIA analysts doubted the validity of the evidence long 
before the President's State of the Union address and had communicated 
those doubts to the White House. Other press accounts have reported 
that State Department analysts also concluded in 2002 that the evidence 
was bogus.
  National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice then asserted that ``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 
  But this also doesn't appear accurate. According to a June 30, 2003, 
New Republic article entitled ``The Selling of the Iraq War: The First 
Casualty,'' Vice President Cheney's office had received the forged 
evidence from the British in 2002 and had provided it to the CIA; the 
CIA in turn had dispatched a former ambassador to Africa to check its 
validity; the ambassador determined the evidence was unreliable; and 
the CIA communicated this report to the Vice President's office.
  Other accounts, such as those by Nicholas Kristof in the New York 
Times, reach the same conclusion. According to a June 13, 2003, Knight 
Ridder News Service report by Jonathan Landay: ``Three senior 
administration officials said Vice President Dick Cheney and some 
officials on the National Security Council staff and at the Pentagon 
ignored the CIA's warning and argued that Bush and others should 
include the allegation in their case against Hussein.''
  The White House has asserted that the President's State of the Union 
address was closely vetted by intelligence officials. But if this is 
so, what did these officials communicate to the President and his White 
House advisors and how did the White House respond? NPR has reported 
that early drafts of the President's State of the Union address that 
contained the forged evidence were reviewed by senior intelligence 
officials, who objected to the inclusion of the evidence. According to 
NPR, the White House ignored their objections. Instead, the White House 
response was to keep the forged evidence in the speech, but to change 
the wording so that the evidence was attributed to British sources.
  Another question raised by the official White House account is why 
the White House hasn't taken disciplinary action against the CIA 
Director and other intelligence officials. If the White House was kept 
in the dark about something as fundamental as forged nuclear evidence--
as Condoleezza Rice maintains--this would be an extraordinarily serious 
failure by the intelligence community. Shouldn't those responsible face 
equally serious consequences?
  Other significant questions regarding the forged documents remain 
unanswered. For example, in some statements, the Administration has 
asserted that ``additional evidence'' supported the claim about Iraq's 
attempts to purchase uranium in Africa. Yet the only evidence the 
Administration provided to the IAEA to support its claims was the 
forged documents. And despite my repeated requests for this other 
evidence, the Administration has yet to provide it. What is the other 
evidence? And why didn't the President and other Administration 
officials cite to it instead of to the forgeries?
  And then there is the question of the December 19 fact sheet by the 
State Department. This fact sheet--which received front-page coverage 
in the media--repeated the fake evidence that Iraq sought to import 
uranium from Africa. When I wrote the President about this, the State 
Department responded as follows: ``The December 19 fact sheet was a 
product developed jointly by the CIA and the State Department.''
  But according to a senior intelligence official quoted in the 
Washington Post, the CIA objected to the inclusion of the fake evidence 
in the State Department fact sheet but the objection ` ``came too late' 
to prevent its publication.''
  Both of these accounts can't be right.
  A broad, independent investigation is necessary to answer questions 
like these. That is why we are proposing a nonpartisan Commission on 
Intelligence about Iraq. This Commission would examine the collection, 
evaluation, and use by the Administration of Intelligence

[[Page E1388]]

on threats posed by Iraq, and make recommendations to Congress and the 
President regarding steps to enhance the accuracy of intelligence and 
representations regarding intelligence. The Commission would have the 
ability to recommend that its findings be made public.

  Unlike with congressional committees examining intelligence on Iraq, 
no political party would have an advantage on the Iraq Commission. 
Based on the model of the 9/11 Commission which was thoroughly vetted 
by Congress, the Commission on Intelligence about Iraq would be 
composed of five members appointed by Republicans and five appointed by 
  Some have tried to deflect efforts to explore questions about the 
handling of intelligence on Iraq as ``revisionist history'' or equated 
such efforts with questioning the war in Iraq. This is misdirected 
criticism. The purpose of the Commission is simple: to understand the 
  The Commission's effort should proceed regardless of whether one 
agrees or disagrees with the ultimate decision to wage war in Iraq, and 
regardless of whether biological or chemical weapons ultimately are 
found there. The credibility of our government will remain in jeopardy 
if we do not resolve doubts regarding the handling of classified 
information on Iraq.