Today's Article
The Bush crowd is
getting to be like a
one-trick magician
who doesn't realize
that everyone has
figured out his
sleight-of-hand.
The American Spark
State Department Blocking Probe, Says House Oversight Chairman

Cliff Montgomery - Sept. 27th, 2007

The chairman of the House oversight committee on Tuesday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
and her assistants of attempting to block congressional investigations into corporate corruption in Iraq. Of
apparent special concern are the actions of Blackwater USA, the private military contractor accused of killing
11 innocent Iraqi civilians.

Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) chastised Rice in a letter to the secretary over her department's recent
decision to bar State officials from discussing with Congress the level of corruption in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki's government. Rice wants an agreement from lawmakers that such discussions will be kept from the
American people.

Waxman further complained about the State Department's rather telling retroactive classification of a U.S.
Embassy in Baghdad study, which reputedly reveals a massive level of corruption in the Maliki government.

"Your position seems to be that positive information about the Maliki government may be disseminated
publicly, but any criticism of the government must be treated as a national security secret," Waxman wrote to
Rice.

"You are wrong to interfere with the committee's inquiry," he added.

Waxman also chastised Rice over her refusal to voluntarily testify about corruption in Iraq before the House
panel.

Waxman's panel also is probing the role performed in Iraq by such private military contractors as Blackwater
USA, which is based in Moyock, NC.

Iraq has been good to Blackwater: The corporation has been paid about $700 million by the State Department
to provide bodyguards for U.S. government civilians working there.

Of course, most Americans only became aware of the corporation's existence after a controversial September
16th incident involving Blackwater security guards. The private guards were traveling with a State Department
convoy when they allegedly murdered 11 Iraqi civilians without provocation.

Blackwater replies that the private guards were returning gunfire from Iraqi insurgents. Regardless of the truth,
this explanation is strongly denied by Iraq's government.

Iraqi Minister of the Interior Shirwan al-Waili told
The New York Times that his "government had received little
information so far from the American side of a joint investigation," wrote the
Times about al-Waili's comments.
But al-Waili was adamant about his government's findings on this issue.

"The shots fired on the Iraqis were unjustifiable...it was harsh and horrible," he told the
Times.

Waxman's committee also is seeking the testimony of Prince Group LLC Chairman Erik Prince. The Prince
Group is Blackwater's corporate parent; its chairman has been asked to appear before the House panel next
Tuesday.

But in a State Department letter to Blackwater penned on September 20th--the very day that the House panel
requested Prince's testimony--a department contract officer told Blackwater to deny information on the
controversial contract to lawmakers.

"I hereby direct Blackwater to make no disclosure of documents or information generated under" the
company's contract with the State Department, "unless such disclosure has been authorized in writing," wrote
Kiazan Moneypenny, the contract officer.

In the September 20th letter, Moneypenny declared that the contract documents are "the exclusive property of
the U.S. Government."

"Based on my grade school civics class, I think the legislative branch is part of the U.S. government," retorted
Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution expert on private military contractors,  to
McClatchy Newspapers.

And Congress has the constitutional duty to investigate possible White House abuses of power.

Moneypenny failed to respond to a voicemail request from
McClatchy reporters for an interview. The State
Department's Bureau of Administration, which is supposed to provide oversight of contracts, referred reporters
to State Department spin doctors.

One State Department spin doctor, Tom Casey, said "Blackwater has been informed by the State Department
that it has no objection to it providing information to the committee."

This of course is the sophistical trick of
inconsistency--offering clearly differing statements to lawmakers and
the American people, in the hope that the confusion will keep them from holding the Bush Administration and
its contractor friends accountable for their actions.

We know this because the Bush Administration pulls this old tactic every time one of its major players gets into
trouble. The Bush crowd is getting to be like a one-trick magician, who can't seem to realize that everyone has
already figured out his sleight-of-hand.

Oh, and the claim from Moneypenny that any contracting documents are "the exclusive property of the U.S.
Government"? In the past, Bush's State Department had denied any release of private contractor documents...
on the premise that the corporation owned the information, Singer told
McClatchy Newspapers.

It's inconsistency--and the one-trick magician--all over again.



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