Stop the presses! Sen. Rockefeller raises the possibility that investigation investigators might need to investigate!
Here's a Walter Pincus article from tomorrow's Post which describes a basic disagreement shaping up between how Sen. Rockefeller (D-WV), the ranking member on the senate intel committee, and Chairman Roberts (R-KS) want to pursue "phase two" of the investigation into the Iraq WMD debacle. "Phase two", remember, is the part of the investigation where they'll look at how the administration used or misused intelligence.
Roberts' approach is to take the administration statements and line them up against intelligence reports. If they match up, no problem. As Pincus writes ...
Under last year's agreement [which Roberts wants to follow], it was unclear whether the committee would consider whether there were contradictory or competing intelligence reports circulating at the time public statements were made that could call them into question, or whether the panel would simply check to see whether each statement could be backed up by at least one piece of intelligence.
For example, in a Sept. 8, 2002, appearance on CNN, Condoleezza Rice said Iraq was receiving "high-quality aluminum tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." At the time, there were serious disagreements within the intelligence community over whether those tubes were meant for centrifuges -- which can be used to extract weapons-grade uranium -- or whether they were meant for anti-aircraft rockets, which proved to be the case. If it could be shown that there was at least one intelligence report that substantiated Rice's statement, that might be enough to justify her statement under terms of the panel's earlier agreement.
Rockefeller has a different approach ...
Under Rockefeller's desired approach, Rice could be interviewed to ask her what intelligence she based her statements on, and whether she was aware of the contrary views.
If you're going to investigate how policy-makers used intelligence, can there be any serious pretense that you're conducting a serious investigation if interviewing the policy-makers themselves is off-limits?
And another question. If what Roberts wants is really closer to last year's agreement than what Rockefeller is now pushing for, what was Rockefeller thinking last year when he agreed to it?