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Date Posted: 02:16:15 03/19/08 Wed
Author: V.K. Durham
Subject: 19 YEAR VETERAN REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN UNLOADS ON BUSH ADMINISTRATION - BIG TIME!
19 YEAR VETERAN REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN UNLOADS ON BUSH ADMINISTRATION - BIG TIME
Posted By: RayelansMailbag
Date: Monday, 17 March 2008, 11:50 p.m.
The following one hour speech before Congress was delivered by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2008/rohr022608.html
This White House exemplifies needless hostility, turf jealousy, and obstructionism. The American people should know it and should know that these charges come not from a partisan
[Congressional Record: February 26, 2008 (House)] [Page H1065-H1072]
ADMINISTRATION NOT COOPERATING WITH CONGRESS
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Madam Speaker, I come to the floor tonight with a heavy heart. The nature of the allegations I make speaks poorly of this administration. In my heart of hearts, I have always wanted this administration to succeed, but the issue at hand is of such magnitude that the American people need to know what is being done and what precedents are being set.
In my tenure as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, both as chairman and ranking member of an investigative subcommittee, I have witnessed firsthand behavior by the Bush administration which I find deeply troubling.
The disdain and uncooperative nature that this administration has shown toward Congress, including Republican Members, is so egregious that I can no longer assume that it is simply bureaucratic incompetence or isolated mistakes. Rather, I have come to the sad conclusion that this administration has intentionally obstructed Congress' rightful and constitutional duties.
Tonight I will discuss some serious examples of this administration's contemptuous disregard for the authority delegated to Congress by the Constitution. This bad attitude has consistently manifested itself in a sophomoric resentment toward Congress' constitutional role as an equal branch of government. The result has been an executive branch too insecure to let Congress do its job, an executive branch that sees Congress, even when Republicans held the majority, as a rival and a spoiler, rather than as elected representatives of the American people playing a rightful role in establishing policy for our great country.
Unfortunately, when the President of the United States rejects the legitimacy of congressional prerogatives, there are serious consequences. Tonight, I will provide examples of how this administration for the past 7 years has undercut congressional investigators, has lied to Members of Congress, and has forged ahead with secret deals in spite of efforts and pleas by Congress to be informed, if not involved.
In the last Congress, I was chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In that capacity, I learned that in the time immediately leading up to the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, convicted Oklahoma City bomber and murderer Terry Nichols had been in Cebu City in the Philippines. His stay in Cebu City coincided with another visitor to that city, al Qaeda's terrorist leader Ramsey Yousef. Interestingly, both Nichols and Yousef used similar bombs and methods just 2 years apart to blow up two American targets. Yousef was the mastermind of the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Nichols was a coconspirator in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995.
By the way, I would like to acknowledge that today happens to be the 15-year anniversary of that first devastating attack on the World Trade Center.
These individuals, one American and one Arab, were responsible for planning two of the most lethal terrorist attacks on our countrymen in our history. We are to believe that by coincidence they ended up in an off-the-beaten-track city in the Southern Philippines? One doesn't have to be a conspiracy nut to understand that this coincidence is certainly worth looking into.
I started an official congressional investigation sanctioned by Henry Hyde, then the chairman of the International Relations Committee, to see whether Terry Nichols or his accomplice, Timothy McVeigh, had foreign help in their murderous terrorist bombing of the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
In light of the fact that Terry Nichols and Ramsey Yousef were both in Cebu City at the same time prior to hauntingly similar terrorist attacks, it was no stretch for a congressional investigative committee to be looking into this matter. However, the Bush administration felt quite differently. To those I had to deal with, it was ``case closed, don't bother us.'' They had looked into the matter, and Congress should simply and blindly accept their conclusion that there was no Nichols- Yousef connection. ``Don't bother us.'' This was at times bureaucratic laziness, and at other times it was clearly based on a disdain for congressional investigations and authority.
During my investigation, I secured Ramsey Yousef's cell phone records. The records were part of the phone calls that he made when he was in that New York City area in the months just prior to the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
The phone records show that Ramsey Yousef made at least two phone calls to a row house in Queens, New York.
That row house was occupied by the cousin of Terry Nichols' Filipina wife. Let me repeat that. The terrorist bomber of the first World Trade Center attack, the nephew of al Qaeda 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, made phone calls to the same row house that was occupied by Terry Nichols' cousins-in-law just 2 months before he exploded the bomb in the garage of the World Trade Center 15 years ago. Another coincidence?
I gave this information to the Department of Justice and since that time have repeatedly sought their help in investigating this matter. Time after time, my requests have gone unanswered or have just been flatly denied.
I also asked the Department of Justice on numerous occasions to help me investigate the name Samir Khahil. This name is on a list of unindicted co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, again in connection with Ramsey Yousef.
It also is the name, by the way, of an Iraqi man in Oklahoma City who at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing employed an Arab immigrant who fits the description originally made by numerous witnesses as to John Doe II.
This Oklahoma-based Iraqi lied, meaning the John Doe II look-alike, lied to the investigators about his whereabouts at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, yet there was little if any follow-up on this John Doe II look-alike. In fact, the FBI simply declared that John Doe II never existed. The existence of John Doe II, let it be remembered, was based on a sketch and sketches derived from witnesses on the scene of the Oklahoma City bombing and the truck rental company in which that bomb was placed on a truck from that truck rental company. Those witnesses described a man who, as I say, looked very much like Samir Khahil's employee.
Now, I have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to tell me if the Samir Khahil on the unindicted coconspirators list of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing is the same Samir Khahil who employed a man originally identified as John Doe II, the bomber, the number two bomber in the Oklahoma City bombing. The Justice Department's answer: ``It would be too burdensome to find out if it was the same man.'' Further, we asked help in finding the Arab immigrant who looked like John Doe II and the man who was employed by Samir Khahil. We traced him to Boston, but we have had no support or cooperation in finding this very possible terrorist, or at least terrorist suspect. He may well have been working at Boston's Logan Airport on 9/11/01, the day that a plane took off from that airport and was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center. Another weird coincidence to the Oklahoma City bombing. Another coincidence, yes.
You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to believe that these things should be investigated. Instead, there has been no follow-through, no interest. The case is closed, forget it, both in terms of Samir Khahil and his Iraqi employer and employee; and both of these people, of course, reside in the United States right now.
That is just a small taste of the deplorable lack of cooperation for a legitimate congressional investigation. And it was no fluke. I didn't just happen to snag some uncooperative Federal employee. No, this is the level of non-cooperation Congress has learned to expect from this administration.
Yes, Departments and agencies do have limited resources, and I understand that. I used to work in the executive branch. So, yes, there may be some better uses for and some good uses for those limited resources and better uses for their time and investigators, rather than just following up on leads that are provided by Members of Congress.
You can hear someone explaining that. But the lack of cooperation that we have had goes far beyond the fact that they are not going to give their limited resources or even use some of their investigators to track down what most of us would consider a very worthwhile lead, especially considering that the terrorist that we are asking to look into currently resides in the United States and may well have had something to do with the bombing of the World Trade Center and the bombing of the Oklahoma City building there.
But, again, a lot of my requests don't require a lot of time and effort on the part of the executive branch, and I still have been stonewalled. For the past year, for example, I have repeatedly requested to interview the imprisoned terrorist Ramzi Yousef. He is in Colorado and in strict lockup. He has been there for 10 years.
This would have taken no time and no resources from any executive branch or Federal employee. None. This request is well within my committee's jurisdiction as ranking member of the Investigative Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
This request has been supported by the chairman of the Investigative Subcommittee, the chairman of the full Foreign Affairs Committee, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Such attention by Congress should be welcomed by this administration and every administration. The legislative branch can help bring new information to light and inform the public.
Nevertheless, the Department of Justice, consistent with its treatment of congressional inquiries during the tenure of this President, has dismissed this valid request. This request has been treated with what can only be described as contempt and condescension.
The point is, unfortunately, that this rejectionist attitude is typical. It is not that they don't have enough resources to help out, to look into an easy matter to look into. It is just that they do not want to cooperate with Congress, even when it's a Republican in Congress, even when the Congress was controlled by a Republican majority.
So, why would this administration obstruct congressional inquiries such as this? Remember, Ramzi Yousef was the mastermind behind several devastating terrorist attacks and plots against America. He led the first murderous attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, as I say.
After fleeing to the Philippines, he and two other terrorists plotted to kill thousands of Americans by blowing up 12 commercial airliners over the Pacific at the same time. It was known as the Bojinka plot. It was within 2 weeks of being executed when it was discovered and thwarted by Philippine police.
Interestingly, the terrorist operation, the Bojinka plot, was to take place about the same time as the Oklahoma City Federal building bombing, perhaps on the same day. We don't know. Perhaps we should know. Perhaps we should ask Ramzi Yousef about that.
Ramzi Yousef has been in Federal prison for over a decade. He is a prisoner with a unique understanding of the al Qaeda terrorist structure. He is the nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
In 2006, when I was the chairman of the House Oversight Investigations Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I was investigating Yousef's movements and activities not only in the United States but in the Philippines. I even traveled to the Philippines to question authorities who had captured Yousef's roommate and coconspirator in the Bojinka plot.
In spite of that fact and in spite of the fact that I was looking into Yousef's terrorist activities and in spite of the fact that I had obtained new information about Yousef's phone calls right here in the United States and new information about his associates while he was in the United States, the Department of Justice still dismisses the effort and, more than that, they are obstructing a legitimate congressional investigation, refusing to permit this elected Member of Congress, a ranking member of a congressional investigating committee, to interview a Federal prisoner. They refused access to Yousef claiming that there is a ``ongoing investigation.''
This prisoner has been in jail for over 10 years. It is more likely that what we have here is an ongoing coverup and not an ongoing investigation. In fact, I have been told recently by a former member of the Justice Department that they were told routinely simply to give answers that there is an ongoing investigation even if no ongoing investigation was underway, but simply using it as a phrase to dismiss a request from Congress.
Well, this is outrageous, but it's typical of this administration. This is a lot more than just a hurtful pride on my part of being turned down.
This administration is setting a terrible precedent. What people have to understand, when I am turned down like this, is when there is a liberal Democrat in the White House, the President will have set that Members of Congress can simply be dismissed, and that when they are trying to do a congressional investigation need not be cooperated with, in fact, can be obstructed. Is that the type of President that we want? Is that acceptable? It shouldn't be acceptable to Democrats and it shouldn't be acceptable to Republicans.
Doesn't Congress have a right to talk to Federal prisoners. Are these the rules of engagement? Is it really the rules of engagement that we want for our government that Members of Congress and the legislative branch don't have a right to talk to Federal prisoners?
Well, that's apparently what the Bush administration is trying to establish as the executive authority, as executive authority, the right to deny congressional investigators access to Federal prisoners. The danger of this should be easy to understand, both on my side of the aisle, the Republican side, and the Democratic side of the aisle.
Again, the attitude, apparent in the treatment of this request, is not an aberration or is it some sort of situation where this is not really a representative way the President has acted with his authority. No, I am afraid that's not the case.
This request was first made and denied when the Republicans controlled the Congress and I was the chairman of the Investigative Subcommittee.
Now Congress has a Democrat majority. In my position as ranking member of the International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have seen it time and time again.
Our subcommittee chairman, Bill Delahunt from Massachusetts, read in the newspaper that our President is negotiating a security agreement with the Iraqi Prime Minister that will govern the future relationship of our countries.
Now let me say that again. The chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs Committee is getting the information about a hugely important foreign bilateral security agreement by reading the newspaper. So, Chairman Delahunt conducted a hearing about the status of such an agreement and invited the administration to send a witness to testify before Congress.
How did the administration respond? They ignored the request. So the hearing was held with a private panel of witnesses, and, yes, the public has a right and an obligation to fully understand such commitments that are being made by the President in our name.
In a democratic society, policy is made after having an open dialogue. George Bush was elected President, not king.
In another attempt last month, our subcommittee held another hearing on the Iraqi security agreement and, again, our panel invited and pleaded with the administration to provide a witness. Their response? Silence.
Our subcommittee held another, a third hearing on this topic. Again, our subcommittee invited the administration to attend and explain to Congress what kind of commitment our government has agreed to with the government of Iraq. Even our full committee chairman wrote letters asking for the administration to participate in the subcommittee hearing. All the requests to the administration by our committee and by the superiors in the full committee were ignored, except for one, and, in one instance, where the contact was made, and I am sad to say that once again this administration was less than honest on a matter of national importance, Chairman Dela- hunt's subcommittee was told by a White House staffer that the administration's unwillingness to participate in hearings was because ``There is nothing to talk about because we haven't put pen to paper'' on security, because they haven't put the pen to paper on the security agreement, supposedly.
Well, when confronted with the fact that the New York Times had written a story saying that a 17-page agreement was being passed around, this White House staffer backtracked and quibbled.
This is unacceptable, it's dishonest, and it's typical. It's like saying there is an ongoing investigation; don't discuss anything anymore with me. There is nothing going on here.
Now, there is something going on, just as, instead of talking and trying to negotiate about what type of spokesman we could have at a hearing, instead, what we get is an undermining of the congressional right to oversee for the foreign policy decisions of this administration.
This stonewalling prevailed until a few weeks ago, when Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a person and a leader who I deeply admire, testified at a hearing of the full International Relations Committee.
When asked about this issue, about witnesses not showing up from the State Department and this administration to explain to us in public and to discuss in public these very important agreements that are being negotiated with Iraq, she pledged at that time that there would be future witnesses dealing with this Iraqi agreement.
At least Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, feels secure enough in this administration to do what's right and to talk directly to Congress and to send her people over to talk to us.
Unfortunately, we had to go all the way to the Secretary of State before we could get anybody in this administration to participate. Let me note, I am a supporter of the President's Iraqi policies. I have been a supporter since day one. I supported the surge, and I am not in favor of some of the propositions made by my friends on the other side of the aisle, which I consider would be a precipitous leaving of Iraq and would cause damage, I believe.
But that's not the point. The point is, Congress has a legitimate oversight responsibility and that the President of the United States should be discussing in public so that the public could understand why policy is being made rather than trying to secretly arrange a policy agreement and then surprise everybody, you know, as a done deal. Sadly, this administration's antipathy to the constitutional responsibilities of the legislative branch of government does not stop and end with my efforts and those of my subcommittee on investigations.
In October of last year, 22 of my colleagues and I wrote to the Acting Attorney General, Peter Keisler, regarding the pending lie detector test for former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
Madam Speaker, I submit for the Record, a copy of a letter concerning making that request of Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler.
Washington, DC, October 10, 2007.
Mr. Peter D. Keisler,
Acting Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, DC.
Dear Acting Attorney General Keisler: In 2005, former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger pled guilty to the mishandling and destruction of classified documents.
He admitted to entering the National Archives and unlawfully removing, then subsequently destroying, classified documents dealing with terrorist related issues. He removed the documents by stuffing them down his pants and in his suit jacket, presumably with the intention of getting rid of any damning evidence showing his involvement in the failure of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to prevent the Sept. 11th attacks prior to his testimony before the 911 Commission.
These documents have never been recovered.
As part of a plea deal, Mr. Berger agreed to take a polygraph test to be administered by the Department of Justice. It has been two years since that agreement and Mr. Berger has yet to fulfill his obligation.
We are writing to officially request that as Attorney General you direct the Department of Justice without any further delay to administer a lie detector test to Mr. Berger and determine what documents were stolen and how our National Security was compromised.
The Congress, and the American people, deserve to know the facts of this crime and what Mr. Berger was covering up.
Therefore we respectfully request a directive be issued by your office ordering Mr. Berger to surrender to the Justice Department immediately and that a polygraph test be administered forthwith.
Member of Congress.
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