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Bringing the truth into the open

Daily Toreador Texas Tech

After months of being a Republican punching bag, the Democratic Party finally has given its rival a good hard one right in the face. The GOP is bewildered, angry and most of all embarrassed that the Democrats are stepping up and calling them out.

Tuesday, in the midst of debating a budget bill, Democratic Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid invoked the rarely used Rule 21, forcing the Senate into a closed session. All cameras were turned off, everyone who was not a senator had to leave the chamber and the lights were dimmed (for dramatic effect, I guess).

The U.S. Senate was left alone for three and a half hours to discuss intelligence findings leading up to the war in Iraq. The Republicans were furious.

To understand what drove the Democrats to such drastic action, a little background information is necessary. As we all know, Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction despite what the president and his team said.

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confidently spoke about WMDs being “in the area of Tikrit and Baghdad,” he was not speaking the truth. When then Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the U.S. case to the United Nations, he offered inaccurate information.

When President Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address, “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” he was neglecting a report he received stating Saddam actually had not tried to purchase nuclear material from Niger.

The campaign leading us to war was fueled by false information.

After it came out the reasons for us invading Iraq were untrue, we needed to know why the intelligence errors had occurred. The Senate Committee on Intelligence, led by chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and vice-chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., began an investigation in June of 2003.

Phase one of the report was released in July 2004. It detailed the many incorrect statements made by President Bush and other White House officials about Iraq and al Qaeda. The report concluded there were many failures in U.S. intelligence, including a lack of good inside sources within Iraq and analysts being improperly supervised.

The committee said a second phase of the report was to follow shortly with information about whether the Bush administration intentionally misled the public to gain support for the war.

Senator Roberts said phase two was a priority he was committed to completing.

Yet by March 2005, the report was still not finished, and Roberts told reporters it was “on the back-burner.” Rockefeller was upset by what Roberts said and asked that his commitment be fulfilled and the report be finished.

Last week, with the report being 20 months overdue, the Democrats had enough of Republican procrastination and excuses. Reid ambushed the Senate with the call for a closed session where the Democrats demanded to know what the intelligence committee had done.

The Senate left the session having established a panel of three Democrats and three Republicans with the purpose of conducting a progress check on the report and relaying the information to the Senate by Nov. 14.

The Republicans were enraged by the surprise and derided it as a political stunt. Democrats called it a win for the American people.

It is increasingly clear that the president and his White House are hiding something from the public and their Republican cohorts in Congress are trying to keep whatever it on the down low.

Though the voters of the United States awarded the president’s blunders with re-election, the Democrats in Congress are fighting to find out if the war that has left more than 2,000 American soldiers dead was necessary.

They are demanding to know why members of the administration spoke with confidence about matters that did not warrant confidence.

It’s possible the war in Iraq, which was planned before the Sept. 11th attacks occurred, was sold to us using information the White House knew was faulty. The Democrats in Congress are boldly asking to find out the truth and, rather than nobly joining in that effort, the Republicans are getting pissy.

About this time last year, I said Bush’s backing depended on which portrayal of him more people believed. If the majority bought into the damning evidence about corruption in his ranks, then they would vehemently oppose him.

If they favored the portrait of a heroic president who takes a hard-line approach to terrorism, then they would ardently support him. With his approval rating falling to 35 percent, it seems more people are beginning to believe he’s in over his head.

Whether you think Bush makes Nixon look like a saint or believe he’s the victim of a liberal smear campaign, thanks to Senate Democrats, the truth about what he knew will soon be in the light and in the headlines.

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