Congressional Record: March 30, 2004 (Senate)
Page S3315-S3317


  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, last week I spoke about the White House's 
reaction to Richard Clarke's testimony before the 9/11 Commission. I am 
compelled today to rise again because the people around the President 
are systematically abusing the powers and the prerogatives of 
  We all need to reflect seriously on what is going on, not in anger, 
not in partisanship, but in keeping with our responsibilities as 
Senators, with an abiding respect for the fundamental values of our 
  Richard Clarke did something extraordinary when he testified before 
the 9-11 Commission last week. He didn't try to escape blame, as so 
many routinely do.
  Instead, he accepted his share of responsibility and offered his 

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about what happened in the months and years leading up to September 11.
  We can and should debate the facts and interpretations Clarke has 
offered. But there can be no doubt that he has risked enormous damage 
to his reputation and professional future to hold both himself and our 
Government accountable.
  The retaliation from those around the President has been fierce. Mr. 
Clarke's personal motives have been questioned and his honesty 
challenged. He has even been accused, right here on the Senate floor, 
of perjury. Not one shred of proof was given, but that wasn't the 
point. The point was to have the perjury accusation on television and 
in the newspapers. The point was to damage Mr. Clarke in any way 
possible. This is wrong--and it is not the first time it has happened.
  When Senator McCain ran for President, the Bush campaign smeared him 
and his family with vicious, false attacks.
  When Max Cleland ran for reelection to this Senate, his patriotism 
was attacked. He was accused of not caring about protecting our 
Nation--a man who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, accused of 
being indifferent to America's national security. That was such an ugly 
lie, it's still hard to fathom almost 2 years later.
  There are some things that simply ought not be done--even in 
politics. Too many people around the President seem not to understand 
that, and that line has been crossed.
  When Ambassador Joe Wilson told the truth about the administration's 
misleading claims about Iraq, Niger, and uranium, the people around the 
President didn't respond with facts. Instead, they publicly disclosed 
that Ambassador Wilson's wife was a deep-cover CIA agent. In doing so, 
they undermined America's national security and put politics first. 
They also may well have put the lives of Ambassador Wilson's wife, and 
her sources, in danger.
  When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil revealed that the White 
House was thinking about an Iraq War in its first weeks in office, his 
former colleagues in the Bush administration ridiculed him from morning 
to night, and even subjected him to a fruitless Federal investigation.
  When Larry Lindsay, one of President Bush's former top economic 
advisors, and General Eric Shinseki, the former Army Chief of Staff, 
spoke honestly about the amount of money and the number of troops the 
war would demand, they learned the hard way that the White House 
doesn't tolerate candor.
  This is not ``politics as usual.'' In nearly all of these cases, it's 
not Democrats who are being attacked. Senator McCain and Secretary 
O'Neill are prominent Republicans, and Richard Clarke, Larry Lindsay, 
Joe Wilson, Eric Shinseki, and Larry Lindsay all worked for Republican 
administrations. The common denominator is that these Government 
officials said things the White House didn't want said.
  The response from those around the President was retribution and 
character assassination--a 21st century twist to the strategy of 
``shooting the messenger.''
  If it takes intimidation to keep inconvenient facts from the American 
people, the people around the President don't hesitate. Richard Foster, 
the chief actuary for Medicare, found that out. He was told he'd be 
fired if he told the truth about the cost of the administration's 
prescription drug plan.
  This is no way to run a government. The White House and its 
supporters should not be using the power of Government to try to 
conceal facts from the American people or to reshape history in an 
effort to portray themselves in the best light. They should not be 
threatening the reputations and livelihoods of people simply for 
asking--or answering--questions. They should seek to put all 
information about past decisions on the table for evaluation so that 
the best possible decisions can be made for the Nation's future.
  In Mr. Clarke's case, clear and troubling double standards are being 
  Last year, when the administration was being criticized for the 
President's misleading statement about Niger and uranium, the White 
House unexpectedly declassified portions of the National Intelligence 
  When the administration wants to bolster its public case, there is 
little that appears too sensitive to be declassified.
  Now, people around the President want to release parts of Mr. 
Clarke's earlier testimony in 2002. According to news reports, the CIA 
is already working on declassifying that testimony--at the 
administration's request.
  And last week several documents were declassified literally 
overnight, not in an effort to provide information on a pressing policy 
matter to the American people, but in an apparent effort to discredit a 
public servant who gave 30 years of service to the American Government.
  I'll support declassifying Mr. Clarke's testimony before the Joint 
Inquiry, but the administration shouldn't be selective.
  Consistent with our need to protect sources and methods, we should 
declassify his entire testimony. And to make sure that the American 
people have access to the full record as they consider this question, 
we should also declassify his January 25 memo to Dr. Rice, the 
September 4, 2001 National Security Directive dealing with terrorism, 
Dr. Rice's testimony to the 9-11 Commission, the still-classified 28 
pages from the House-Senate inquiry relating to Saudi Arabia, and a 
list of the dates and topics of all National Security Council meetings 
before September 4, 2001.
  I hope this new interest in openness will also include the Vice 
President's Energy and Terrorism Task Forces. While much, if not all, 
of what these task forces discussed was unclassified, their proceedings 
have not been shared with the public to date.
  There also seems to be a double standard when it comes to 
investigations. In recent days leading congressional Republicans are 
now calling for an investigation into Mr. Clarke.
   As I mentioned earlier, Secretary O'Neill was also subjected to an 
   Clarke and O'Neill sought legal and classification review of any 
information in their books before they were published.
   Nonetheless, our colleagues tell us these two should be 
investigated, at the same time that there has been no Senate 
investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a deep 
cover CIA agent, no thorough investigation into whether leading 
administration officials misrepresented the intelligence regarding 
threats posed by Iraq, no Senate hearings into the threat the chief 
Medicare Actuary faced for trying to do his job, and no Senate 
investigation into the reports of continued overcharging by Halliburton 
for its work in Iraq.
   There is a clear double standard when it comes to investigating or 
releasing information, and that's just not right. The American people 
deserve more from their leaders.
   We're seeing it again now in the shifting reasons the White House 
has given for Dr. Rice's refusal to testify under oath and publicly 
before the 9-11 Commission.
   The people around the President first said it would be unprecedented 
for Dr. Rice to testify. But thanks to the Congressional Research 
Service, we now know that previous sitting National Security Advisors 
have testified before Congress.
   Now the people around the President are saying that Dr. Rice can't 
testify because it would violate an important constitutional principle: 
the separation of powers.
   We will soon face this debate again when it comes time for President 
Bush and Vice President Cheney to meet with the 9-11 Commission. I 
believe they should lift the limitations they have placed on their 
cooperation with the Commission and be willing to appear before the 
entire Commission for as much time as the Commission deems productive.
   The all-out assault on Richard Clarke has gone on for more than a 
week now. Mr. Clarke has been accused of ``profiteering'' and possible 
perjury. It is time for this to stop.
   The commission should declassify Mr. Clarke's earlier testimony. All 
of it. Not just the parts the White House wants. And Dr. Rice should 
testify before the 9-11 Commission, and she should be under oath and in 
   The American people deserve to know the truth--the full truth--about 
what happened in the years and months leading up to September 11.

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   Senator McCain, Senator Cleland, Secretary O'Neill, Ambassador 
Wilson, General Shinseki, Richard Foster, Richard Clarke, Larry 
Lindsay--when will the character assassination, retribution, and 
intimidation end?
   When will we say enough is enough?
   The September 11 families--and our entire country--deserve better. 
Our democracy depends on it. And our Nation's future security depends 
on it.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Who yields time?