Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Condi Continues her Contempt for Congress & Oversight

Representative Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Tuesday leveled charges that Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has interfered with congressional investigations into corruption by the Iraqi government; as well as the activities of the mercenary security outfit Blackwater USA.

State Department officials have repeatedly told the Oversight Committee that details of corruption in the Iraqi government could not be provided to the committee because the information is treated as a “state secret” and can not be revealed to the public (nor, apparently to our elected representatives).

"You are wrong to interfere with the committee's inquiry," Waxman said in a letter to Rice. "The State Department's position on this matter is ludicrous," added Waxman, a vocal opponent of the Bush administration's Iraq policies.

(Keep Reading)

The State Department did not comment on the letter or Waxman’s comments, but in the past, Rice’s State Department has blown off the requests of the committee, and attempted to dismiss Waxman as “partisan” and inconsequential.

In the case of Blackwater, which was involved in an apparently unprovoked attack on civilians that left at least 11 civilians dead, the company insists that, as they contract their mercenaries to provide security for State Department employees in Iraq, they can not hand over documents and cooperate with Congress without prior approval of the State Department, which will not give it.

"Congress has a constitutional prerogative to examine the impacts that corruption within the Iraqi ministries and the activities of Blackwater may have on the prospects for political reconciliation in Iraq," Waxman wrote to Rice.

Along with the latest letter Waxman wrote to Rice and released to the press, a letter from the State Deparment’s Contracting Officer, Kiazan Moneypenny, to Blackwater, which confirms the obstruction Waxman accuses the State Department of engaging in: "I hereby direct Blackwater to make no disclosure of documents or information ... unless such disclosure has been authorized in writing by the contracting officer." Undeterred by the stonewalling, Waxman has scheduled a hearing on the Blackwater matter for October 2.

Rice has been overtly contemptuous of congressional oversight, ignoring requests to appear before committees, answer questions or even acknowledge that Congress indeed has a legitimate oversight role. With her star waning, and her influence in the White House virtually nil, might she find herself escorted before the committee by the Sergeant of Arms of the House?