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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Congress to Patrick J. Fitzgerald: Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Seems I'm not the only one looking for Patrick J. Fitzgerald to expand his grand jury investigation. Today forty members of Congress, led by Maurice Hinchley (D-NY) are urging Fitzgerald to look into the fraudulent claims that BushCo. made regarding Iraq's nuclear capabilities in its justification for war:
President Bush made two uranium claims, one in his State of the Union Address to Congress and another in a report that he submitted to Congress concerning Iraq, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made three other uranium claims.   We request that you investigate whether such claims violated two criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C., Sec. 1001 and 18 U.S.C., Sec. 371, that prohibit making false and fraudulent statements to Congress and obstructing the functions of Congress.


Additionally, the Downing Street memos should be part of the investigation as to whether one of the several ways in which the Administration deliberately "fixed" the facts and intelligence on uranium included its switch of the language in the State of the Union Address to justify the war.  These documents provide valuable insight into the mindset of the Administration the summer preceding the Iraq invasion.

(my emphasis)
As I noted yesterday, if anyone contacts Fitzgerald and request that he present to the grand jury a recommendation that they investigate something that happened in the Washington D.C. judicial district, he must do so. It is then up to the grand jury to decide what they want to do.

It may very well be that Fitzgerald is already out in front of this. In August of 2003, the WaPo first wrote about the existence of the secret White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which was formed in August 2002 as "a task force assigned to 'educate the public' about the threat from Hussein, as a participant put it."

According to the WaPo:
The group met weekly in the Situation Room. Among the regular participants were Karl Rove, the president's senior political adviser; communications strategists Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; and policy advisers led by Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, along with I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff.
In March of 2004, the White House acknowledged that Fitzgerald had subpoenaed documents including WHIG's notes, emails and attendance records. Since Rove's "strategic communications" task force within WHIG helped write Bush's speeches (including, presumably, the January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech containing the 16 words about Iraq's purported nuclear capabilities), and both Rove and Libby helped craft George Tenet's mea culpa about the Niger uranium snafu, it is within the realm of possibility to suppose that Fitzgerald is already pursuing this line of inquiry.

Although forty members of Congress, lead by John Conyers, got shot down yesterday in their attempt to launch a Plame investigation of their own, Fitzgerald sent a decidedly unequivocal letter to them today saying that such a move would interfere with his investigation.

I personally don't think Conyers expected it to go anywhere, he just wanted all the Republicans on record as being against an investigation so it can be waved in their faces when the shit hits the fan. He said as much on his blog today (I actually think it would have been his worst nightmare come true if it had passed). But I'm happy nonetheless to see that Fitzgerald is on guard against the possibility of the Rethuglicans in Congress granting immunity to his key targets a la Oliver North in Iran Contra. He obviously doesn't want to get punked like Lawrence Walsh.

For those who would like to see a good profile of our man Fitz, there is a PBS online news hour segment on him here, including a portrait of the prosecutor as a young rugby player. And for the die hard fans, you can watch him testify before the 9/11 commission both here and here (testimony starts 1 hr. 36 min. into the segment -- it's long).

Things are heating up, boys and girls. This ought to be good.

(hat tip to Quicksilver)