Waxman: State Department Gags Analyst Who Warned Of Niger Forgery

Three months before President Bush uttered his infamous 16 words, claiming there was evidence that Saddam Hussein was building a nuclear weapon, a State Department analyst named Simon Dodge had determined that the evidence for the claim was likely fraudulent.

Dodge emailed his assessment to fellow intelligence analysts in October 2002, and then again in January 2003 (two weeks before Bush’s State of the Union), saying the documents supposedly from Niger were “probably a hoax” and “clearly a forgery.”

According to Oversight and Goverment Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), the State Department is now refusing to let Dodge speak to Waxman’s staff, despite the fact that Dodge has indicated he is “willing to cooperate fully” with the investigation.

In a letter to Condoleezza Rice today, Waxman charges that the State Department is “imped[ing] the Committee’s investigation into why President Bush and other senior Administration officials, including yourself, cited forged evidence in building a case for war against lraq.”

[A] member of your legislative office informed Committee staff that you were prohibiting Mr. Dodge from meeting with Committee investigators. This official claimed that allowing Mr. Dodge to speak with Committee staff would be “inappropriate” because the Committee voted to issue a subpoena to compel your attendance at a hearing on your knowledge of the fabricated evidence.

I assume that your legislative staff was acting without your authorization in this matter. It would be a matter of great concern – as well as an obvious conflict of interest – if you had directed your staff to impede a congressional investigation into matter that may implicate your conduct as National Security Advisor.

The key question, Waxman writes, is whether Rice or any other senior officials “were aware of, or should have been aware of, Mr. Dodge’s assessment.” Apparently Rice doesn’t want us to know the answer.

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