Does Senator Pat Roberts, the Republican from Kansas, live in Kansas? That's the issue that's tripped him up as he runs for reelection. But I have known for a decade where he really lives. Like Dorothy, he is no longer in Kansas anymore. Like Oz, he is a charlatan. He lives in a land of lies and deception of his own making.
Roberts, who first came to Washington as a congressional staffer in 1967, claims a recliner chair in a supporter's home as his legal residence in Kansas. Neither the supporter nor Roberts' staff knows how often he makes use of the chair, but it is clearly infrequently at best. Kansans are understandably upset at the disdain shown by the Senator, so much so that the three-term incumbent who has only a Lazy Boy in the state is in danger of losing his seat.
As Roberts desperately struggles to cling to office, he is trying to hoodwink the voters one more time. He never expected that the fact he doesn't have a Kansas home would be exposed. But he's been misleading about more than his address for years -- and getting away with it. In Kansas, he's practiced deception about living there, but in Washington he's lied systematically. Through his deceit, he bears responsibility for the tragedy of Iraq and the crimes committed by the intelligence agencies for which he had oversight responsibility. Make no mistake: Torture is not "enhanced interrogation," but a war crime under the Geneva Conventions written at the direction of the U.S. since World War II when Japanese officials were executed for the offense.
Roberts' habit of playing fast and loose with the truth may come as a surprise to Kansans, but not to those who followed his performance during the George W. Bush administration as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. His behavior as a senator has been a study of deception in the conduct of the nation's business that borders on dereliction of duty. Rather than diligently overseeing the activities of the intelligence community, the mandate of the committee, Roberts abused his position to cover up the administration's egregious lies and misdeeds that took us to a disastrous war, as well as to slander those who brought inconvenient facts to the attention of the public. For years, he was nothing more than Dick Cheney's poodle. He protected those elements of the CIA following the Bush-Cheney orders on torture, as the soon-to-be published Senate torture report under Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) will make clear. It was Roberts who let it all happen. It was Roberts who aided and abetted the assault on the reliability of the intelligence community. It was Roberts who failed his duty, besmirched the honor of the Senate and undermined the nation's values.
On a personal note, it should be remembered that Roberts wrote the dishonest and libelous "Additional Views of Chairman Pat Roberts" to the Senate Report on the Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. Not only did he attempt to divert attention from the lies spewed by the Bush-Cheney administration as well as his own abject failure of leadership of his own committee; he also clearly tried to influence a federal investigation into the criminal betrayal of an undercover CIA officer, Valerie Plame, my wife.
Roberts' political cover-up was transparent even as he tried to hide the truth. As former Deputy Director of the CIA Richard Kerr testified to his committee:
If I were a Senator not on the oversight committee, I'd say you guys failed. What happened here? Why didn't you know more about this -- you, the Senate Select Committee -- which are our eyes and ears on intelligence? What did you do to deal with the issue?
Instead, Roberts opted to use the report and his additional comments to defend the Bush-Cheney White House by defaming me and trying to sabotage the investigation into the leak of Valerie's identity. Predictably, proving that even a blind pig can sometimes find the acorn, a Wall Street Journal editorial from the period seized on his calculated slander to pressure the Special Prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald to "fold up his tent."
Specifically, Roberts alleged in his comments that "the plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife," and "Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided."
Both accusations were bald lies, as I pointed out in a letter to the committee and in my book, The Politics of Truth. Shortly after Valerie's identity was betrayed, the CIA affirmatively acknowledged in a statement to Newsday reporters Knut Royce and Tim Phelps:
A senior intelligence officer confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations office who worked alongside the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger... There are people elsewhere in the government who are trying to make her look like she was the one cooking this up for some reason... I can't figure out what it could be.
The second allegation, that I made things up, refers to a number of articles citing the infamous Italian forged documents about Saddam Hussein's interest in purchasing uranium yellowcake. I never saw the documents prior to their publication, and I was not a source for those assertions. I made that point specifically in my New York Times Op-ed of July 6, 2003, "What I Didn't Find in Africa." Both the Newsday citation and my article were available to Roberts for a year prior to the release of the report and his additional comments, but he chose to ignore them and instead served as an eager tool to attempt the obstruction of a federal investigation into the politically motivated disclosure of the identity of an undercover CIA officer -- a crime against U.S. national security that former President George H.W. Bush had called "treason."
It should not be forgotten that Roberts' smear failed. Special Prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald won the conviction of Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, for perjury and obstruction of justice. And Fitzgerald concluded that "a cloud" hung over Cheney himself. Roberts, who did his best to cover-up serious crimes against national security was the single worst Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its history -- the most actively incompetent and disgraceful.
Pat Roberts has a habit of lying about things big and small. His BIG lie was to put loyalty to George Bush and Dick Cheney above his duty to the country. He may have succeeded in that but now Kansans have caught on to the small lie about where he really lives.
In this election season, with the hyper-partisan Kansas Secretary of State and the panicked Republican Party doing everything they can to save Roberts from the consequences of his lies, Kansans are correct to question the integrity of their senior senator. I learned a decade ago that he has none.