by Friends National Committee on Legislation –
WASHINGTON (February 5, 2004) — On February 2, President Bush announced he would create a commission of investigation into the prewar intelligence on Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs.
The White House is expected to choose all nine commissioners for the panel and announce its formal establishment soon. The President’s commission will look into the quality of intelligence, but not the handling or use of it by Administration officials.
The President’s decision to establish an investigation commission marks an important first step in addressing widespread public concern about prewar intelligence and the Administration’s case for war.
However, the President’s commission is no substitute for a congressionally mandated, bipartisan, and truly independent commission to investigate the full scope of the quality and use of intelligence, as called for in legislation already introduced in Congress (HR 2625 and S 1946).
To restore public trust, rebuild US credibility abroad, and ensure government accountability on critical issues of war and peace, a congressionally mandated and truly independent investigation into the Administration’s use of the intelligence in making the case for war is needed.
• Please contact your members of Congress.
• Ask your representative to cosponsor HR 2625, and your senators to cosponsor S 1946, legislation that would create a truly independent and bipartisan commission to investigate not only the quality of prewar intelligence, but also the Administration’s use of intelligence in making the case for war.
• Urge your members to tell the White House its plans for an investigation are no substitute for a congressionally mandated, truly independent commission.
Start with the sample letter posted in our Legislative Action Center, personalize the language, then email or fax your message directly from our site. You can also print it out and mail it.
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For months now, FCNL and many other groups, along with a number of members of Congress, have called for the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Administration’s claims regarding Iraq’s chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.
The White House decision to establish a panel of investigation is a clear acknowledgment of the growing public concern over this issue and an important first step.
However, the Administration’s commission, as currently proposed, will not provide the open, independent, and thorough investigation that is needed to answer the many unaddressed questions and ensure government accountability.
The White House is expected to choose all nine members for the commission and announce its formal establishment soon. According to initial reports from the Administration, the commission will investigate the information gathered on Iraq’s weapons and the intelligence that was produced from that information.
It will also investigate intelligence about North Korea, Iran, Libya, and other so-called rogue states. However, the White House commission will not thoroughly examine the handling or use of intelligence by Administration officials in the lead up to war. It will not report any findings until next year, after the elections.
The White House decision to create a commission of inquiry into the prewar intelligence on Iraq’s weapons comes amid a rising fervor of partisan debate over the issue and following the testimony of the Administration’s former chief weapons inspector.
On January 28, retired chief US weapons inspector David Kay testified before Congress that Iraq did not have the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons that the Administration had insisted Iraq possessed.
Kay led the search for unconventional weapons in Iraq following the US invasion, and after months of searching without substantive result, stepped down from the position. Last week, Kay reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee, “it turns out we were all wrong.”
In response to Kay’s revelations to Congress, the White House announced its intent to establish an independent commission. However, just days later, on February 5, CIA director George Tenet gave a speech at Georgetown University in which he defended the pre-war performance of US intelligence. He also specifically contradicted David Kay on a number of points. The US public cannot help but continue to wonder where the truth lies.
The war in Iraq has now cost over $150 billion taxpayer dollars, the lives of more than 500 US service members, nearly 3,000 US wounded, and an estimated 10,000 thousand Iraqi lives.
The US decision to end UN weapons inspections in Iraq and launch an invasion of Iraq without UN approval undermined international law and put into practice a dangerous doctrine of preventive war.
Moreover, the US’s reputation has been seriously damaged with important allies. Given the costs that are being paid and the perpetual mixed messages from the White House, the US public deserves a thorough, congressionally-mandated investigation.
As a non-partisan Quaker lobby in the public interest, FCNL has become concerned by the increasingly partisan nature of the debate over this issue. We believe a truly independent commission–mandated by Congress to investigate the full scope of the use of intelligence and provide timely reports– may now be the only way to restore trust in government while ensuring that a much-needed search for truth remains above the fray of election year politics.
For information on HR 2625, go to link
For information on S 1946, go to l.ink
For a recent letter from FCNL and colleague organization on the issue, go to link
For recent commentary by Dan Smith on prewar intelligence, go to link
This message supplements other FCNL materials and does not reflect FCNL’s complete policy position on any issue.
For further information, please contact FCNL: 245 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (202) 547-6000. Toll Free: (800) 630-1330. Fax: (202) 547-6019, Web: http://www.fcnl.org