Oversight Committee Invites Former CIA Director to Testify


A letter (pdf):

April 27, 2007

The Honorable George Tenet
c/o Robert B. Barnett, Esq.
Williams & Connolly LLP
725 Twelfth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Mr. Tenet:

I am writing to invite you to testify at a hearing of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on May 10, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 2157, Rayburn House Office Building. The purpose of the hearing is to learn your views about one of the claims used to justify the war in Iraq — the assertion that Iraq sought to import uranium from Niger — and related issues.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. Information for witnesses appearing before the Committee is contained in the enclosed Witness Information Sheet.

If you have any questions, you may contact me or David Rapallo or Theodore Chuang of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.

I look forward to your testimony.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman

Chairman

On Wednesday the Oversight Committee approved a subpoena for testimony from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding the assertion that Iraq sought to import uranium from Niger. A New York Times article today discusses how Mr. Tenet addresses the issue in his book:

Ex-C.I.A. Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq
Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times – April 27, 2007

Mr. Tenet hints at some score-settling in the book. He describes in particular the extraordinary tension between him and Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, in internal debate over how the president came to say erroneously in his 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

He describes an episode in 2003, shortly after he issued a statement taking partial responsibility for that error. He said he was invited over for a Sunday afternoon, back-patio lemonade by Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state. Mr. Powell described what Mr. Tenet called “a lively debate” on Air Force One a few days before about whether the White House should continue to support Mr. Tenet as C.I.A. director.

“In the end, the president said yes, and said so publicly,” Mr. Tenet wrote. “But Colin let me know that other officials, particularly the vice president, had quite another view.”

He writes that the controversy over who was to blame for the State of the Union error was the beginning of the end of his tenure. After the finger-pointing between the White House and the C.I.A., he wrote, “My relationship with the administration was forever changed.”

Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman opened debate on the subpoena for the testimony of Secretary Rice during the committtee meeting on Wednesday:

Chairman Waxman:
“The Administration’s claim that Iraq could pose a nuclear threat was at the center of its case for war. Indeed this assertion was key to the decisions of many Members of Congress, including myself, to support the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. It therefore raised enormously serious questions when Congress and the public learned that there were flaws, not just minor ones but serious flaws, with the intelligence underpinning the Administration’s nuclear case.”
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