Congressman John Conyers released his report, “The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, and Illegal Domestic Surveillance” today. The report is over 350 pages and contains over 1,400 supporting footnotes.
I don’t expect that most of us will read the entire report; however, I encourage you to read the following:
From the Analysis section: Thwarting and Stonewalling Congress and the American People
Members of the House and Senate have been essentially stymied by both the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress from obtaining information concernng the matter described in the Report. As David Broder wrote, “Majority Republicans see themselves first and foremost as members of the Bush team – and do not want to make trouble by asking hard questions.”
With regard to the allegations of abuse concerning the Downing Street Minutes and Iraq, the President has refused to respond to a letter from 122 Members of Congress, along with more than 500,000 Americans, asking him to explain whether the assertions set forth in the Downing Street Miutes were accurate; House Republican Chairmen of all relevant committees have refused to respond to a letter signed by 52 Members calling for hearings concerning the Downing Street Minutes; and the Administration has essentially ignored questions submitted by Democratic Members concerning false statements regarding nuclear claims and other misstatements concerning the Iraq war.
In addition, the Senate and House Intellligence Committees have refused to conduct any meaningful investigation concerning intelligence manipulation; House Republican Chairmen have refused numerous requests by Members to conduct meaningful hearings on torture and other abuses in Iraq; and the Administration has ignored a request for information concernng such abuses submitted by the Ranking Members of six committees. The President and Vice President have also ignored letters submitted by Members asking them to explain or act on the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name to the press in apparent retaliation against her husband; and Republican Chairmen have refused requests to hold hearings on the leaks. Republicans in the House have also rejected myriad attempts by Members to ask the Administration to provide information regarding all of these matters pursuant to Resolutions of Inquiry.
Members of the House and Senate have also by and large been blocked by the Bush Administration from obtaining information concerning the domestic spying scandals. First, the Bush Administration rejected without explanation Democratic requests for a special counsel to review the allegations of possible criminal misonduct concerning warrantless domestic surveillance. Second, the Administration stymied any meaningful attempt at congressional oversight, with Senate Judiciary Chairman Specter complaining, “[t]hey want to do just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it.” Moreover, House Republican leaders rejected repeated Democratic proposals to create an independent panel or commission to review the NSA program, while Republican Committee Chairman rejected Democratic efforts to pursue Resolutions of Inquiry directing the Bush Administration to respond to congressional inquiries. When the Senate Intelligence Committee fell in line behind the Administration in rejecting an investigation, the Ranking Democrat, John Rockefeller declared, “[t]he committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House.” The Administration has pursued various changes to FOIA and classification laws, and repeatedly invoked the states secret doctrine in an effort to help insulate their conduct from outside or court scrutiny.
Whatever happened to our system of “check and balances”? I do not believe that this is what our Founding Fathers intended for our country, nor can I believe that this is what the majority of the American people want for our country.