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Leaked memo sparks rancor in senate

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Leaked memo sparks rancor in Senate
By Robert Schlesinger, Globe Staff, 11/6/2003

WASHINGTON -- The festering quarrel over the Senate investigation into pre-war US intelligence on Iraq flared up yesterday as Republicans and Democrats traded charges of politicizing the probe and engaging in office espionage.

At issue was a draft strategy memorandum written by a Democratic staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Leaked to the media Tuesday night, it laid out how the party could steer the probe in an effort to produce the information most damaging to the Bush administration.

"Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq," the memo concluded. "Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing [of] misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war."

The dispute provided an unusual glimpse into the ongoing partisan clash over the scope of the panel's investigation, which is focused on the nature of the intelligence on Iraq and how reliable it was. Last week Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican who chairs the committee, and Senator John D. "Jay" Rockefeller of West Virginia, the Democratic vice chairman, jointly sent letters to the White House, the Pentagon, and the Central Intelligence Agency seeking information on pre-war intelligence about Iraq. But Rockefeller and other Democrats have sought a broader investigation focusing on not just the intelligence but how Bush administration officials used it.

The Democratic memo outlines a plan to "pull" the Republican majority on the committee as far as possible toward investigations that could lead to information damaging to the White House and, when that track has been exhausted, push again for an independent investigation.

"While none of us is new to partisan politics, and I am not naive enough to think that we can escape some degree of partisanship, this memo exposes politics in its most raw form," Roberts said in a statement.

Rockefeller noted that the document had not been approved by or shared with members of the committee. "But it clearly reflects staff frustration that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation has not tackled the tough issues and frustration with the difficulties we have had in obtaining information from the administration," he said.

Rockefeller questioned how the document ended up in the hands of the media, suggesting the committee's Republican staff may have plucked it from a garbage can or broken into a Democratic computer.

"At some point very soon the committee and the Senate will have to explore the chain of events surrounding this draft memo, since it raises serious questions about whether the majority is obtaining unauthorized access to private, internal materials of the minority, and who made the decision in this case to leak the draft memo," Rockefeller said.

Roberts denied any knowledge about how the document ended up on Fox News.

Robert Schlesinger can be reached at

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

Democratic memo called attack plan
Jay works to patch leak { November 6 2003 }
Leaked memo sparks rancor in senate
Memo widens rift over senate inquiry { November 5 2003 }
Open letter to jay { November 7 2003 }
Rockefeller babbled on incoherently { October 15 2003 }
Rockefeller not really after intelligence problem

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