Despite major revelations that the Bush administration has inappropriately doctored agency documents, threatened government employees, allowed corporate shaping of federal policy, subverted sound science, and selectively declassified material for its own political gain, the congressional majority has refused to investigate any of the matters. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers are promising a partisan witch hunt over lost National Archives documents by former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, even though the Justice Department has told news agencies it does not expect criminal charges, and even though Republicans on the 9/11 Commission acknowledge they saw all of the material in question.
In the controversy over National Archives documents misplaced by former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, the media has widely reported that law enforcement is not expected to file any charges, and a top GOP 9/11 Commissioner has stated that the panel saw everything that was missing. Nonetheless, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the Government Reform Committee, is now promising his committee will launch an investigation into Berger. Davis's aggressive stance represents a sharp departure from his refusal to investigate other serious issues. For instance, when he was asked by Democrats to investigate the Bush administration's leak of an undercover CIA officer's name, he said "I know Ashcroft very well, and I'm sure he'll go by the book," while his spokesman said such a probe (unlike Berger's, apparently) "should be conducted by career FBI agents." The contradiction highlights how Davis and the congressional majority have repeatedly refused to investigate serious national security matters in favor of partisan witch hunts.
NO INVESTIGATION OF LEAK OF CIA AGENT'S NAME: In a July 14 column, syndicated newspaper columnist Robert Novak named former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction, citing Bush administration sources. Novak claimed he learned of Plame's identity from "two senior Bush administration officials." Sources told CNN that "Novak was among as many as six journalists who were told Plame's name." When ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (D-CA) asked for hearings to investigate the leak, Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) declined, saying on 10/3/03, "I know Ashcroft very well, and I'm sure he'll go by the book." Apparently unlike the Berger controversy, Davis's spokesman said then that any probe "should be conducted by career FBI agents." [Sources: CNN, 2/11/04; CBS, 12/31/03]
NO INVESTIGATION OF POTENTIAL LEAKS OF CLASSIFIED INFO TO BOB WOODWARD: While the White House refused to share its Presidential Daily Briefs (PDBs) with the 9/11 commission, citing their classified nature, according to journalist Bob Woodward, it had no problem sharing the briefs with him. Woodward acknowledges he was given access to "notes taken during more than 50 National Security Council and other meetings" (many of which are classified), and cites specific PDBs in his book. The Providence Journal reported that Woodward said the President himself "often spoke candidly about classified information." Republicans in Congress have launched no investigation into the President Bush's potential discussions of highly classified national security information. [Sources: Newsweek, 2/18/04; WP, 11/19/02; Providence Journal, 4/10/02]
NO INVESTIGATION OF ASHCROFT'S SELECTIVE LEAK OF CLASSIFIED INFO: In a transparent attempt to deflect attention from his own lackluster efforts to combat terrorism before 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft unilaterally declassified and distributed a 1995 memo written by commission member Jamie Gorelick on the day he was scheduled to testify. The move, intended to smear Gorelick and discredit the commission, was seized on by right-wing pundits and motivated calls for Gorelick's resignation. Ashcroft's action was so outrageous it earned him a rare rebuke from President Bush. Republicans in Congress, however, have launched no investigation into the matter of whether the Attorney General selectively leaked a classified document to discredit a member of the 9/11 commission. [Sources: WP, 3/19/04, 4/14/04; Fox News, 3/15/04; WH briefing, 3/29/04]
NO INVESTIGATION INTO HIDING GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS: U.S. News and World Report earlier last year reported "the Bush administration has quietly but efficiently dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government–cloaking its own affairs from scrutiny and removing from the public domain important information on health, safety, and environmental matters. The result has been a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government while making increasing amounts of information unavailable to the taxpayers who pay for its collection and analysis." OMB Watch notes the administration specifically "ordered that thousands of documents and tremendous amounts of data be summarily removed from federal agency web sites. All of this was done without policy direction or maintaining a record of what information is now restricted." The Washington Post reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a fiat to federal agencies directing them "to be cautious in releasing records to journalists and others" and implicitly urging them to slow down or reject more Freedom of Information Act requests. To date, Republicans in Congress have held no investigation or hearing into how the administration's unprecedented secrecy policies. [Sources: U.S. News & World Report, 12/22/03; OMB Watch, 10/25/02; AP, 10/17/01]
Despite major revelations that the Bush administration has inappropriately doctored agency documents, threatened government employees, allowed corporate shaping of federal policy, and subverted sound science, the congressional majority has refused to investigate any of the matters.
NO INVESTIGATION OF WHITE HOUSE DOCTORING GROUND ZERO AIR QUALITY INFO: After 9/11, the White House intervened to force the EPA to downplay toxic dangers at Ground Zero, explicitly ignoring a top federal scientist who warned in a memo against the re-occupation of buildings in lower Manhattan because of dangers from asbestos and other toxins. Just seven days after the attack, the White House had the EPA delete words of caution and add reassuring language in a release that told New Yorkers the air around Ground Zero was safe. Republicans in Congress have launched no investigation into the White House's doctoring of information and endangerment public health. [Sources: New York Daily News, 10/28/03; Knight Ridder, 9/12/03; NYT, 10/28/03]
NO OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION OF HOW MEDICARE ACTUARY WAS THREATENED: An internal investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that top Medicare official Thomas Scully threatened to fire chief actuary Richard Foster if he told Congress that drug benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged. The investigation, which resulted in no criminal charges, was unsatisfactory to many democrats, who lobbied Davis for formal hearings. It did not address claims by Foster that "the White House participated in the decision to withhold" information from lawmakers. Republicans in Congress have launched no investigation into whether a top Medicare official, possibly in concert with White House officials, threatened to fire an employee for telling Congress the truth about the cost of the new Medicare legislation. [Sources: NYT, 7/7/04; WP, 3/19/04; Kaiser, 3/18/04]
NO INVESTIGATION OF ENRON/ INDUSTRY INFLUENCE ON BUSH ENERGY POLICY: Vice President Cheney acknowledges meeting with Enron executives and other energy industry officials in creating the White House's energy proposal. Similarly, the Bush administration's budget director, Commerce Secretary, Treasury Secretary and Energy Secretary at the time all admit to taking phone calls from now-indicted Enron CEO Ken Lay. Even the nonpartisan General Accountability Office has cited serious corporate influence over the administration's energy policy and energy task force. Yet despite calls for an investigation, Republicans in Congress have refused. [Sources: ABC, 1/9/02; Washington Post, 1/10/02, 1/11/02; Wall Street Journal, 1/15/02; Washington Post, 8/26/03]
NO INVESTIGATION INTO SUBVERTING SCIENCE: The Government Reform Committee Democrats have outlined various ways the White House has tried to remove or obstruct sound science from public policy. Most recently, the White House actually prevented U.S. government scientists from communicating with officials from the World Health Organization. The Union of Concerned Scientist, a nonpartisan group of over 4,000 prominent scientists, including 48 Nobel laureates, have signed a letter stating the Bush administration ignores and manipulates scientific knowledge in order to advance a political agenda. Nonetheless, Republicans in Congress have refused to investigate the issue. [Source: House Government Reform Committee website; Union of Concerned Scientists, 7/04]
The Republican Congress has refused to investigate revelations that Vice President Cheney's "coordinated" of federal contracts for his former employer, Halliburton. Here are just a few controversies that Davis has refused to investigate, even as he begins his new partisan witch hunt.
NO INVESTIGATION OF CHENEY OFFICE INVOLVEMENT IN HALLIBURTON CONTRACTS: Shortly before the Pentagon awarded Halliburton a sole-source contract to help restore Iraqi oil fields last year, an Army Corps of Engineers official wrote an e-mail saying the award had been "coordinated" with the office of Vice President Cheney, Halliburton's former chief executive. "We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's office," the e-mail said. Three days later, the Halliburton subsidiary KBR was granted the contract, which was worth as much as $7 billion. Democrats have called for an investigation into the matter, but have been stonewalled. Republicans in Congress have launched no investigation into whether the vice president illegally "coordinated" a no-bid contract for Halliburton, the company Cheney used to be CEO of, still holds stock options in, and receives deferred compensation from. [Sources: Time, 5/30/04; WP, 6/2/04; CNN, 6/1/04]
NO INVESTIGATION OF HALLIBURTON DOING BUSINESS IN IRAN/IRAQ UNDER CHENEY: Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton, is under investigation for possible violations of sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism while Cheney was in charge. The Treasury Department has been investigating the matter, which involves contracts pursued by a Halliburton subsidiary with Iran, since 2001, and recently referred the case to the US attorney in Houston, something it does only after finding evidence of "serious and willful violations" of the sanctions law. CBS News reported Cheney was CEO of Halliburton at the very time the company "set up shop in Iran." Similarly, evidence has been revealed proving Halliburton did at least $73 million in business with Iraq while Cheney was CEO, even though during the 2000 campaign Cheney claimed he had a "firm policy" against Iraq business. Republicans in Congress have not launched an investigation into whether Cheney conducted business with Iran, in violation of US sanctions meant to cut off funding to terrorists. [Sources: WP, 7/21/04; CBS, 1/26/04; LAT, 7/21/04; New Yorker, 2/9/04; Washington Post, 6/23/01]
NO INVESTIGATION OF CHENEY ROLE IN HALLIBURTON BRIBE SCANDAL: The Justice Department is inquiring into whether Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton, "was involved in the payment of $180 million in possible kickbacks to obtain contracts to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria during a period in the late 1990's" when Cheney was CEO. In a 2002 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Halliburton admitted that "one of our foreign subsidiaries operating in Nigeria made improper payments of approximately $2.4 million." And investigators in France are "reported to have uncovered evidence showing that about $5 million of payments related to the Nigeria project were deposited into a Swiss bank account controlled by Albert Stanley, the former chairman of a Halliburton subsidiary while Cheney was CEO. Republicans in Congress have not launched an investigation into whether the vice president was complicit in illegal bribes and kickback schemes to help his company secure foreign contracts in Nigeria. [Sources: IHT, 6/14/04; Dallas Morning News, 1/9/04; Newsweek, 2/4/04]
NO INVESTIGATION INTO HALLIBURTON ABUSE OF TROOPS: According to NBC News, in late 2003, "the Pentagon repeatedly warned contractor Halliburton-KBR that the food it served to US troops in Iraq was 'dirty,' as were the kitchens it was served in." Halliburton-Kellogg Brown and Root's promises to improve "have not been followed through," according to a Pentagon report that warned "serious repercussions may result" if the contractor did not clean up. The Pentagon reported finding "blood all over the floor," "dirty pans," "dirty grills," "dirty salad bars" and "rotting meats … and vegetables" in four of the military messes the company operates in Iraq. The company feeds 110,000 US and coalition troops daily at a cost of $28 per troop per day. Nonetheless, Republicans in Congress have refused to investigate the issue. [Source: Agence France Press, 12/14/03]