Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rockefeller attempts a rebuttal

I note that Senator Jay Rockefeller, who I wrote about recently with regards to his 2002 Middle East Tour, has issued a release regarding his Sunday appearance with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

::::::::It is ridiculous to suggest that any sensitive information was revealed during my January 2002 Middle East trip. Every aspect of this trip was sanctioned by and coordinated with the State Department and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I was accompanied in each country by either our U.S. Ambassador or our Deputy Chief of Mission, and each of our U.S. officials specifically praised my meetings and the message I delivered. I conveyed my belief that President Bush was very serious about taking action in Iraq. I had no knowledge of specific Bush Administration plans to invade Iraq, and I certainly never suggested that I did. I raised this issue on Sunday to make the point that while I hadn’t made up my mind until October of 2002, I believe the president had decided to go to war long before, and continued down that path into 2003 – even as some of the intelligence was being called into question. Once again, it appears that Republican defenders of the president are trying to distract from the real issue – whether the president was straight with the American people about the war in Iraq.::::::::

This release raised more questions for me than it answered, and I note I'm not alone in that feeling:

::::::::1. While Senator Rockefeller stated on Sunday that he took his trip to Syria "by myself," he now claims that it was "sanctioned and coordinated" by the State Department, as well as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committees. Which was it? Did he act alone or did he act with approval and coordination of his committee and the Department of State? If the latter, who approved the trip?

2. Senator Rockefeller now claims each of the public officials involved "specifically praised my meetings and the message I delivered." Really? To whom? And if this is true, is Senator Rockefeller saying that it was State Department policy to allow and approve of individual Senators to visit with certified state sponsors of terror (who in this case were allied with Saddam) in order to convey the message to Saddam's ally that we were going to war with Saddam -- all before Bush made any public case at all? If so, we should know that too. The State Department should confirm or deny this.

3. To repeat the facts as we know them: Syria is and was a state sponsor of terror, on the Department of State's list as being so; Syria was an ally of Iraq; Syria is a place now contemplated by serious people as a haven for Iraq's WMDs; and a known place from whence terrorists travel into Iraq. Just why would a respected United States Senator tell a sponsor of terrorism and an ally of the regime we were to liberate something they otherwise had not heard, something the President had not said? And just what might that ally of the Iraqi regime have done with that information? In sum, what business of Senator Rockefeller's was it to speculate openly to the head of an enemy regime, and a sponsor of terror (when we were at war with terror), that the President was to go to war with that enemy's ally?

The Senator can well speak of attempting to distract from the real issue. Neither I nor anyone else I've read has accused the Senator of revealing "sensitive information", as that term is understood in diplomatic and secure environments. No one's saying he gave up timetables and troop movements. What I said, and what many others have said, is that the Senator apparently told the "head of state" of Syria that the President "had already made up his mind" to invade. Our point is that the Senator, by virtue of his position, is clearly someone who should know whether the President had made up his mind or not. To say that to someone who, as I mentioned, is on the DoS terror sponsor list and is an ally of the supposedly targeted country is a serious issue and there should be an investigation. Sunday the Senator said he went on this trip alone. Now he's saying he had an entourage of officials and sanction for the trip from the Senate intel committee and the State Department. See Power Line's question #2 above.