WASHINGTON, D.C.– Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, is releasing a 370-page report, describing in full numerous instances of lawlessness and misconduct by the Bush Administration. Many members of congress were quick to hail recent court cases, including the Hamdan decision, as “victories” for democracy, but Conyers refuses to buy it. “The unfortunate reality is we are a long way from being out of the constitutional woods under the dangerous combination of an imperial Bush presidency and a compliant GOP Congress,” he writes.
Beginning with post-9/11 false intelligence and public deception, Conyers uses sources including public statements, the Downing Street Memo, CIA reports and intelligence briefings to refute Bush’s carefully constructed propaganda advocating a war with Iraq. Step by step Conyers traces the different reports citing no links between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and the lack of evidence of WMDs. Beginning with Bush’s State of the Union claim that “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium for Africa,” he demonstrates how the CIA, the State Department and the National Intelligence Council all informed the administration that the Niger uranium claim was “equivocally false.” French intelligence authorities went so far to say the Niger story was “bullshit.” And there is no doubt the administration knew they had faulty intelligence. One CIA official recounted his superior giving orders saying, “You know what? If Bush wants to go to war, it’s your job to give him a reason to do so.”
The Conyers report goes on to cite evidence that not only was torture and cruel, inhumane treatment tolerated by the administration, it was encouraged. Going against the Geneva Conventions and the Anti-Torture Statute, Rumsfeld approved a Nov. 27, 2002 memo which advocated the “use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences for him and/or his family are immanent.”
Continuing on, the report illuminates the political retaliation taken against any and all whistleblowers, and lists several such cases—the most publicized being that of Valarie Plame. Another, widely unknown case is that of ABC reporter Jeffrey Kofman, who was outed as being gay after reporting the troops in Iraq were frustrated.
While Bush’s wiretapping program was deemed illegal, Conyers takes it one step further, pointing out the numerous instances Bush and other high-ranking members of the administration made “misleading” statements to Congress about the program. Ironically, in doing so Bush violated his own National Security Act, which ruled that the President is required to keep all members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees “fully and currently informed.”
The report makes clear that the blame cannot lie solely with Bush and his inner circle. Conyers faults the Senate and House Intelligence Committees for refusing to conduct any independent, serious investigations into these matters. He also faults the courts for being slow to act and easily stymied by the “procedural defenses” asserted by the administration.
Conyers quotes Martin Luther King Jr.’s warning that “there comes a time when silence is a betrayal,” concluding, “In my judgment, that time is now.”