Bill Bennet On Iraq and Bank Security

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    http://www.nationalreview.com/script/printpage.p?ref=/comment/bennett200511141541.asp

    Rockefeller’s Confession
    What was the West Virginia Democrat doing as a freelancing prewar diplomat?

    By William J. Bennett

    Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, the following exchange took place between Chris Wallace and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

    WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

    SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The — I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq — that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11.

    While Democrats in Washington are berating the White House for having prewar intelligence wrong, a high-profile U.S. senator, member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, who has a name more internationally recognizable than Richard Cheney's, tells two putative allies (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) and an enemy who is allied with Saddam Hussein (Syria) that the United States was going to war with Iraq. This is not a prewar intelligence mistake, it is a prewar intelligence giveaway.

    Syria is not only on the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the country many speculate is where Hussein has secreted weapons, it is also the country from which terrorists are flowing into Iraq to fight our troops and allies. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have had, over the years, conflicted loyalties. What was Senator Rockefeller doing? What was he thinking? And all this before President Bush even made a public speech about Iraq — to the U.N. or anyone else.

    We can have our umpteenth investigation into what the White House knew and when it knew it about Iraqi weapons — we will find the same answer: It knew what President Clinton, Sandy Berger, Madeline Albright, and William Cohen knew when they made speeches about the dangers of Iraq in the late 1990s and when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act. How about an investigation, now, into what exactly Senator Jay Rockefeller told Syria and just what Syria might have done with the information made available to them presumably before it was made available to the U.N., the Senate, or the American people.

    Senators and congressmen don't have to agree with their president's policies, and they should make the president robustly defend his policies — but they should not be acting as if they are the president or secretary of state; they should not be tipping off sometimes friends and definitive enemies about war plans that not even the president has yet made as policy. This is the true mockery of prewar intelligence, and Senator Rockefeller should fully explain his actions.

    If Syria — or elements in Saudi Arabia — began acting on this information before we even went to war in Iraq (more than a year later), then Senator Rockefeller may have seriously harmed, impeded, and hindered our war efforts, our troops, and the entire operation in the Middle East. This should be investigated immediately; and perhaps Senator Rockefeller should step down from the Intelligence Committee until an investigation is complete.
     

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