Dick Durbin Tees Off

Getting ready to take my 14 year old to school this morning, I turned on C-SPAN 2. “Oh, no, not C-SPAN 2 again,” she said. I was about to concede and switch over to Katie and Matt when I was suddenly captured by the power and passion of what I was hearing. Sen. Dick Durbin was fuming with outrage over Ahmed Chalabi’s arrival in Washington today:

I don’t understand this. While the Department of Justice is actively investigating this man for wrongdoing that could have endangered American troops and American lives, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury are hosting him like some dignitary.

My thoughts exactly. We contacted his office and got a copy of his speech. The rest of Durbin’s impassioned statement, focusing on the imperative need for a thorough, unblinking investigation into the misuse of pre-war intel was just as compelling -- so I’m posting it here in its entirety. Read it and get determined not to let Sen. Roberts sweep the Senate’s Phase II investigation under the Senate rug:

Mr. Durbin: It was a week ago that Harry Reid made a motion to the senate move into closed session under Rule 21. It is a rule that is rarely used but I was glad it was used that day because the purpose was absolutely essential for America to learn the truth about what happened before the invasion of Iraq.

Senator Reid made that motion in order to make certain that the Senate intelligence committee keep his word to the American people.

The Senate intelligence committee, some 20 months ago, promised that they would have a thorough, professional investigation of several major elements relative to intelligence.

One of the most important is whether any elected official or member of this administration in any way used intelligence or made statements that were not substantiated. In other words, were we misled purposely or deliberately by any elected official or member of the administration before the invasion of Iraq?

It is an absolutely critical question.

I'm glad the Senate intelligence committee made a commitment to initiate this investigation but we found, after waiting 20 months, little or nothing was happening.

15 months ago the chairman of the senate intelligence committee, senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, called this investigation; phase II investigation, a top priority. And yet in march of this year, march 11, speaking to the Woodrow Wilson center, Senator Roberts said -- "This investigation was -- quote -- "on the back burner." Close quote.

Then just a few days later on March 31, Senator Roberts issued a press release after we had the report of a commission relative to this intelligence in which he said on pre-war intelligence -- "I think it would be a monumental waste of time to replow the ground any further."

It was very unclear whether the commitment was still there from Senator Roberts and the intelligence committee to keep their word to the American people to investigate this critical question.

Now yesterday the junior senator from Texas came to the floor arguing, I believe, that it was unnecessary to go forward with this investigation.

I think he's wrong.

He argued that if we find that any member of the administration misled the American people into believing that a war in Iraq and invasion were necessary that somehow this would discredit the bravery and heroism of America’s troops.

I can't follow his logic.

The men and women in uniform are doing their country proud every day. They are risking their lives for America. They stand up for values that are essential, like family and faith and truth.

Why would this senate be reluctant to tell the American people the truth?

This is not just a test of the intelligence committee. This is a test of the Senate. It's a test of our constitutional responsibility, the responsibility of congress to protect the American people from an abuse of power by the executive or any elected official. It is a matter of the gravest importance.

If an elected official deliberately or recklessly misled the American people into believing that there was cause for the invasion of Iraq, that is a serious abuse of power.

We know that Senator Roberts promised this investigation almost two years ago. Because of our motion to go into closed investigation, a bipartisan agreement was reached and under that agreement, in just six days, Senator Roberts and two of his designees will announce with three democratic designees the schedule for completing this important investigation.

Mr. President, when we closed the Senate we accomplished more in two hours than we had accomplished in two years, moving this investigation forward.

When the junior senator from Texas came to the floor and said that this investigation was unnecessary because an earlier group had investigated it, he referred specifically to the Silberman-Robb commission.

What he did not put into the record should be included, and I quote from the commission. Quote -- "we were not authorized to investigate how policy-makers used the intelligence assessments they receive from the intelligence community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policy-makers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the intelligence community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq’s weapons programs, not to review how policy-makers subsequently used that information." End quote.

That is the question. That is the issue.

And for the Senator from Texas to say the Silberman-Robb commission has dealt with that issue is not factual, and it's not accurate, based on the words of that commission.

He went further to say that the phase one investigation also took care of the question. It did not.

I served on the intelligence committee. We purposely divided this into two investigations. First, any failings or shortcomings of intelligence agencies. Second, any misuse of this intelligence information by policy-makers and elected officials.

That is the responsibility we have to go forward.

It is not clear when the Senate intelligence committee would have finished its work had we not filed this motion to have a closed session here in the United States Senate. But now the promise has been made, not just to fellow colleagues, not just to the Congress, but to the American people.

I think that we need to know the truth.

If a policy-maker in this administration deliberately misled the American people, we should know that. If we find from the evidence it did not occur, we should also know that.

Let us pursue the truth. Let us make sure the Senate intelligence committee keeps its promise to the American people.

We know that there are many areas of statements made by the president, by the vice president, the secretary of state, and the secretary of defense that were just plain wrong.

There were no weapons of mass destruction. When it came to the aluminum tubes, there was a serious disagreement within the administration, between the C.I.A. and the Department of Energy as to whether those aluminum tubes really were evidence of a buildup of nuclear weapons.

We also know that statements by the administration about a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were just false. There was no evidence to back it up.

We know now about the notorious statements in the president's State of the Union address about whether or not we obtained -- or whether Iraq, rather, obtained yellow cake for nuclear weapons. It turned out to be totally false and bogus.

The question that has to be asked is whether or not this administration and its spokespersons knew ahead of time the information they were giving to the American people was not accurate. That is the essential inquiry that must take place.

Mr. President, I also would like to note that something curious is happening in Washington today. There is a man by the name of Ahmed Chalabi who is visiting Washington.

Mr. Chalabi is under active investigation. He is under investigation for the charge that he leaked intelligence, including the fact that the United States had broken a crucial Iranian code and that he turned that information over to the Baghdad station chief of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

Of course if that happened, Mr. Chalabi endangered American troops and American security. As a result of this charge against Mr. Chalabi, on May 20 of last year, his residence was searched by the Iraqis with the cooperation of American forces in Iraq to see if evidence could be found.

Now, that's a serious charge -- that we would somehow jeopardize the security of America’s troops and our national security and whether this man leaked sensitive information and the fact that he's under active investigation by the F.B.I. is proof-positive that we're taking this seriously.

So where can we find Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi this week? Well, we'll find him in Washington. He has an appointment to sit down and break bread with Treasury Secretary Snow and the secretary of state, Condoleezza rice, and then a little later this week he's going to give a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

Does this sound like a man under active investigation or a man who is being actively lauded by this administration?

I don't understand this. While the Department of Justice is actively investigating this man for wrongdoing that could have endangered American troops and American lives, the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury are hosting him like some dignitary.

So don't be surprised if you watch the Chalabi motorcade speed up when they pass the Department of Justice. I guess they're concerned whether an F.B.I. agent will come out and pursue this so-called active investigation.

It is very difficult to track how this man, who gave us such misleading information before the invasion of Iraq, now under active investigation for endangering American troops is now the toast of the town at the Department of Treasury and the Department of State.

I don't follow their logic and I certainly don't follow the pursuit of justice if they don't have an active investigation included so we know whether or not Mr. Chalabi has endangered American lives.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.