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Memo infuriates senators
The document said Democrats have had “some success” in getting Mr. Roberts to go along with their goals of having the committee “look into the activities” of senior Bush administration officials.
“The fact that the chairman supports our investigations … is helpful and potentially crucial,” the memo says.
But the author adds that such cooperation is not enough and suggests that Democrats “take full advantage” of committee rules to “among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry.”
Once Democrats have “exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority,” the memo says, “we can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration’s use of intelligence at any time — but we can only do so once.”
“The best time to do so will probably be next year,” when Mr. Bush will be campaigning for re-election.
“Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public’s concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq,” the memo says in its conclusion. “Yet, we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading — if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives — of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, pre-emptive war.
“The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration’s dubious motives.”
Mr. Roberts said he was most disturbed by the Democratic plan to “discredit the committee’s work and undermine its conclusions … before those conclusions are even reached.”
“I have worked to ensure the minority’s voice has been heard at all times,” Mr. Roberts said. “There should be no legitimate question as to our approach or our dedication to following the information no matter where it leads.”
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that he hasn’t seen the memo and that the White House has been focused on helping the committee review the intelligence regarding Iraq.
“That’s what we will continue to do,” Mr. McClellan said. “I certainly hope that people are not trying to use this important issue for political gain.”
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said the writing of such a memo is unprecedented and “shows a sinister motive” on the part of Democrats.
“At no time did anybody to my knowledge put out a memo to undermine the committee” when he was chairman, Mr. Shelby said. “If they did, we would have fired them.”
Sen. Gordon H. Smith, Oregon Republican, said he is “shocked and appalled” at the memo because it was drafted by a staffer with knowledge of “our nation’s most sensitive secrets” and looked to exploit Mr. Roberts’ attempts to work with Democrats in good faith.
“Chairman Roberts is clearly trying to cooperate in a bipartisan way, and that is clearly being taken advantage of,” Mr. Smith said.
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