Friday :: Mar 26, 2004

Frist and Hastert Want To Nail Clarke For Perjury - Kerry Dares GOP To Prosecute

by Steve

Now, they’ve declared war, and they better be ready for the ramifications of what they did today. Because they also just allowed John Kerry to call their bluff.

I’m referring to the move by the Senate and House GOP leadership this afternoon, in the latest coordinated attack on Dick Clarke, whereby Bill Frist and Denny Hastert are asking the Administration to declassify Clarke’s July 2002 testimony to Congress to see if it matches what he said this week so that perjury charges can be pursued against Clarke. For an administration that can’t seem to release documents and contacts surrounding Valerie Plame without a Grand Jury subpoena or have its NSA testify, you can bet that the White House will quickly release Clarke’s testimony from last year without worrying one bit about national security.

Both Hastert and Frist insist that by taking this action they are not calling Clarke a perjurer. Yet the intent is clear. However, for Hastert and Frist to suddenly want to declassify documents supposedly so that the truth is out, comes as grossly hypocritical from folks who didn’t want to see this commission in the first place, or allow an extension of time for it to finish its work after stonewalling from the White House. But as often has been the case with a White House that in its imperial insistence on secrecy has overreacted without thinking through the consequences of its anger, this move is fraught with peril for Bush.

First, Bob Graham and Jane Harman, both of whom are familiar with Clarke’s previous testimony, believe that there is nothing contradictory in what Clarke said to Congress previously and now. Both believe this is simply about another White House effort to destroy Clarke and shut him up.

Second, Porter Goss says that such declassification is necessary so that Clarke’s testimony this week doesn’t contaminate the 810-page report of the joint Senate and House inquiry into 9/11. Under the premise of sunshine, as Harman and Graham have pointed out today, Goss and the rest of the GOP should have no problem declassifying other parts of the report like the 27 redacted pages that show how Saudi Arabia supported Al Qaeda.

Third, as a result of this action, if the issue raised by Frist and Hastert is one of testimony under oath and the need to declassify documents and previous testimony of a White House official to ensure that Congress wasn’t lied to on a national security issue, then the White House and the GOP should no longer have a problem with Condi Rice testifying under oath to the 9/11 Commission, since she like Clarke was and is a White House official. Furthermore, if Clarke’s previous classified testimony about 9/11 and Iraq is now approved for public release without concern for national security, then so should all the previous testimony from Rice and other administration officials about 9/11 and Iraq. The Democrats should now immediately seek declassification of other testimony from Rummy/Rice/Powell and the rest on 9/11 and Iraq. After all, under this newfound concern from Frist and Hastert about whether or not Congress was lied to last year, testimony from any Bush Administration official to Congress on any subject should be checked against the facts, shouldn’t it?

Lastly, under this newfound concern by the GOP to determine if a Bush Administration official has lied to Congress, Democrats should immediately demand a Special Prosecutor not only for this case, but to also look into other cases where the administration lied to Congress. We can start with going after HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, OMB officials, and other administration staff on the Medicare drug bill costs.

See, once you go down this road, they’ll wish they never started. And now Kerry has come out and challenged the GOP to prosecute Clarke, knowing that if they raise this stink and don't follow through, they were bluffing. If they do prosecute, not only will it look retaliatory and like a cover-up attempt, but it will give Clarke's attorneys the chance to get all these documents in a discovery motion.

Clarke is on Meet The Press Sunday.

Steve :: 4:17 PM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!