Today's Article
Any attempt to
classify
embarrassing
documents for  
political reasons
puts our nation in
peril.
The American Spark
House Bill Condemns Rice's Refusal To Hand Over Report On Iraqi
Gov't Corruption

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 13th, 2007

It seemed a simple request to House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman.

His committee recently asked the Bush Administration to provide it with at least one copy of a
damning
"Sensitive But Unclassified" U.S. Embassy in Baghdad report, which documents widespread Iraqi government
corruption.

Rep. Waxman (D-CA) and other committee members apparently assumed that since the American people
were the ones paying in both dollars and lives for Bush's fruitless nation-building of Iraq, it's only right for them
to know how his nation-building is really getting along.

As you might expect, the Bush boys thought otherwise. Rather than provide the Oversight Committee with the
unclassified document, the State Department retroactively "classified" the internal corruption audit on highly
dubious grounds and flatly refused to hand over a single copy--even though it remains in the public domain and
is highly accessible.

"The State Department initially informed Committee staff that the reports were designated 'sensitive but
unclassified'," stated
Rep. Waxman to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a letter dated September 25th.

"After receiving the Committee's inquiry, however, the State Department retroactively classified the documents
and refused to provide them voluntarily to the Committee," wrote Waxman.

"The Committee subpoenaed the documents last week, but they still have not been provided to the Committee
in either classified or unclassified form," added Waxman.

The existence of the U.S. Embassy report was first disclosed by
The Nation magazine in August.

"Obviously, the State Department's position on this matter is ludicrous," Waxman wrote in his letter to Rice.

"If there is widespread corruption within the Maliki government, this is information that both Congress and the
public are entitled to know," he reminded Rice.

Of course, Bush State Department officials aren't about to let technicalities like Natural Right or the U.S.
Constitution change their ways.

They proudly retorted that, "any information about corruption within the Maliki government must be treated as
classified because public discussions could undermine U.S. relations with the Maliki government."

But that a document makes the lying president's lies harder for Americans to stomach is not an excuse for
classification--only matters of vital national security may merit a proper classification. In fact, such a cheap
attempt to classify an embarrassing document for political reasons itself puts our nation in peril.

Some House members apparently agree.

Yesterday Reps. Waxman and John Tierney (D-MA)--along with eight other Democratic
representatives--introduced a House bill (H. 734) which "expresses the sense of the House that the State
Department has abused its classification authority by withholding from Congress and the American people
information about the extent of corruption in the Maliki government," according to a release found on the
House Oversight Committee's website.

The bill also "condemns the State Department for retroactively classifying documents that had been widely
distributed previously as unclassified," reads the release.

The House legislation further "condemns the State Department" for "directing its employees not to answer
questions in an open forum that calls for 'Broad statements or assessments which judge or characterize the
quality of Iraqi governance, or the ability/determination of the Iraqi government to deal with
corruption--including allegations that investigations were thwarted for political reasons.' "



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