Monday, September 19, 2005

40 Dems ask Fitzgerald to to expand inquiry -- Administration's false statements to Congress

Forty-One Members Of Congress Ask Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald To Examine Bush Administration's False Uranium Claims That Led To Disclosure Of CIA Operative's Identity To Determine If Additional Federal Laws Were Broken

Washington, D.C. - Troubled by what they see as violations of federal law that prohibit making false and fraudulent statements to Congress, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and 40 of his House colleagues today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald asking that he expand his investigation of who in the Bush Administration revealed to the news media that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a covert agent for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Hinchey and his colleagues urged Fitzgerald, who was designated as special prosecutor for the case, to examine the causes behind the exposure of Plame's identity -- specifically, the Bush Administration's false and fraudulent claims in January 2003 that Iraq had sought uranium for a nuclear weapon, which the Administration used as one of the key grounds to justify the invasion of Iraq.

"In order to fully investigate the disclosure of an undercover CIA agent's identity, it is clear that you should fully investigate the reasons for that disclosure," Hinchey and his colleagues wrote to Fitzgerald. "As we outline below, we believe that members of the Administration may have violated laws governing communications with Congress with respect to assertions about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities. Ambassador Wilson’s efforts to publicly contradict these assertions seem to be the reason for the uncovering of Mrs. Wilson’s identity. It is very likely that you would encounter these assertions during the course of your investigation, and thus their legality should be the subject of your investigation."

Between January 20 and January 29, 2003, the Administration made a series of claims - which are now known to be false - that Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger. These claims were at the very core of the president's final justification for war, and apparently were made despite broad internal disagreement over their veracity. Joseph Wilson then exposed the Administration's lies in his New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003. The desire to discredit Ambassador Wilson is the nearly-universally accepted motive behind the leaking of his wife's identity.

It is fully possible that the Bush Administration's claims of an Iraq-Niger connection were illegal - especially given the venues at which the claims were delivered (including President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address before Congress). That fact, when combined with the link between the Administration's behavior and the subsequent exposure of Mrs. Wilson, is sufficient justification for Mr. Fitzgerald to expand his efforts.

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