- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said Congress as a whole "has not been briefed on Iraq" and North Korea, and accused the Bush administration of not "upholding their end" of the resolution that authorized the president to use force against Saddam Hussein.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld disputed that notion, pointing out that he has made regular appearances before Congress and has invited senators to visit the Pentagon to be briefed on national security matters.
"I have trouble understanding exactly how one could make more regular appearances [before Congress]," Mr. Rumsfeld said yesterday upon exiting a closed-door hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"I've given over 20 briefings up here I think 32 weeks out of 52 last year, I was involved in extensive briefings in the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill throughout that entire period."
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is scheduled to hold a classified briefing in the Capitol this afternoon on the nuclear arms crisis in North Korea. All senators have been invited to attend.
However, Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, contends that senators have learned more about the Bush administration's "flip-flopping" policy on North Korea by reading newspapers than from official briefings. On top of that, he said, the Bush administration is violating its responsibilities in the resolution that approved the use of force in Iraq.
"If you recall, the Iraq resolution last fall required the administration to come to the Congress within 60 days," Mr. Daschle said. "That report is now a month overdue. We don't yet know what the administration's official position is [on Iraq] as a result of their unwillingness to share a report with us. We have not been briefed on Iraq."
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the second-ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, agrees with Mr. Daschle.
"Senator Kennedy believes that there hasn't been a steady flow of information to Capitol Hill and believes they should reach out more in terms of consulting with Congress in disarming Saddam Hussein," said Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kennedy's spokeswoman.
Mr. Kennedy was among the 23 senators all but one were Democrats who voted against using force against Saddam Hussein. Mr. Daschle voted for the resolution.
Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican and incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, rebuked White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. last week for not keeping Congress well-enough informed about the situation in Iraq and North Korea.
Open and full communication is most necessary now, Mr. Warner said, because "this situation with regard to Iraq, to North Korea, is among the most serious that I have ever witnessed in my over-30 years in public service in national defense."
Mr. Warner suggested that the level of information shared with Congress is fine, though "any situation could be strengthened."
"At my level, with my responsibility [communication] has been absolutely satisfactory," Mr. Warner said. "I think some of the junior members on the committee, they need some start-up time."
One of those new committee members, Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said yesterday's classified briefing with Mr. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was "overdue and needed."
"It was a good start, but I'd welcome more information," Miss Collins said.


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