Scholars for 9/11 Truth call for verification and publication by an international consortium.
Duluth, MN (PRWEB) January 30, 2006 -- A group of distinguished experts and scholars, including Robert M. Bowman, James H. Fetzer, Wayne Madsen, John McMurtry, Morgan Reynolds, and Andreas von Buelow, have concluded that senior government officials have covered up crucial facts about what really happened on 9/11.
By Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (Cross-posted at DailyKos)
You may recall that a few weeks ago I introduced a resolution of inquiry to obtain Justice Department documents about the President's domestic spying program.
Many of you are no doubt familiar with the procedure for resolutions of inquiry; however, for those who are not, a brief explanation. A resolution of inquiry requests information or documents from the Executive Branch. The Committee to which it is referred must vote on it within a specified period of time or the full House must consider it.
As a practical matter, if the Republicans want to dodge an issue, they refer the bill to Committee and then "adversely report" it, which kills it, stopping the request for documents and protecting every non-Committee Republican from having to vote on it.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee considered my resolution of inquiry on the domestic spying program. The Resolution was rejected 16 to 21, with all Democrats and one Republican (Congressman Hostetler) voting for it.
A few quick impressions: first, I was surprised at how half hearted the Republican defense of the program was. I would even go further -- while some offered a full throated defense of the program, many of my Republican colleagues seemed almost sheepish about it, and many did not speak about it at all.
Second, Republicans repeatedly asserted that the documents were not needed because Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner has unilaterally submitted 51 questions (pdf) to the Attorney General, and that the Attorney General would testify at a general oversight hearing at some undetermined point in the future. I and the other Democratic Members responded that this was wholly inadequate, and that to fulfill their constitutional oversight role the Committee needed to obtain documents from the Administration and hold separate hearings on the NSA issue.
More to the point, while some news outlets touted the Chairman's letter, his questions are, in my view, inadequate. A close reading of them reveals that the first 38 questions essentially ask the Department whether they think the program is legal. They have already given us their answer on that. The remaining questions are so general, that they can be answered by a google search of what is already in the press.
A few are such softballs it is hard to take them seriously. Take number 18, for example -- "Do you agree that it is debatable as to whether the United States homeland is still a target of al Qaeda?" Wonder what the Justice Department will answer. That sounds like the Fox News question of the day.
My third impression is a very positive one: every single Democrat present spoke passionately and eloquently about the legitimate questions surrounding this program and the desperate need for Congressional oversight of it.
To me, this is one of the most serious problems with one-party, Republican rule: there is no check and balance of Executive Branch wrongdoing. The refusal to assert basic prerogatives to obtain documents and engage in oversight is dangerous and disheartening. We are not giving up -- we, meaning every House Judiciary Democrat, have sent our own questions to the Chairman and asked for a series of hearings on this issue.
Some Republicans are breaking ranks, however, particularly those in competitive districts. They know what many may learn the hard way in November -- the American people expect the Congress to be a check and balance, not to give the President a blank check.
If you are interested in watching the debate (and I highly recommend it) go here.
My prepared statement follows:
STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN JOHN CONYERS, JR.
House Judiciary Committee Markup of House Resolution 643
February 15, 2006
I urge my colleagues to support my resolution of inquiry, which has been cosponsored by 44 individuals, including every single Democrat on this Committee.
First, let me make clear what materials this Resolution is requesting. It simply asks the Attorney General to submit all documents in his possession relating to warrantless electronic surveillance of telephone conversations and electronic communications of persons in the United States conducted by the National Security Agency, subject to necessary redactions or requirements for handling classified documents. This request would include any and all opinions regarding warrantless electronic surveillance of telephone conversations and electronic communications of persons in the United States, as well as other records which would allow us to better understand the size, scope, and nature of the program.
Second, I want to explain why we are asking for this information. We are not asking for this information in a conclusory fashion. We are not saying that the President broke the law or has acted contrary to the Constitution. In fact, this resolution may well produce documents that rebut those allegations. What is clear is that, assuming what has been reported is true, many Constitutional and legal experts - Republicans and Democrats - have indicated that this secret domestic surveillance program raises substantial questions about whether the program is legal and whether it is constitutional.
These include the Nation's most preeminent legal and intelligence authorities: (1) Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe; (2) 14 of the nations preeminent legal scholars, including William S. Sessions, the former Director of the FBI under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and William W. Van Alstyne, a Law Professor at William and Mary who was a witness called by this Committee's Republican Members during the impeachment of President Clinton; (3) Bruce Fein, a former Deputy Associate Attorney General in the Reagan Administration, (4) Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional scholar and another witness called by the Republicans on this Committee during the Clinton impeachment, and (5) the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.
The question before us is not whether you agree or disagree with these individuals, but whether you think their judgments are sufficiently serious to warrant further inquiry by this Committee. I would also add that the Justice Department, when it briefed staff on Monday, indicated that some of the legal questions involved here are close calls.
Third, if you agree that this warrants further inquiry, the question is what kind of action this Committee should take?
I commend the Chairman for sending a letter to the Attorney General asking questions about this program. Many of us have questions of our own and I hope the Chairman will forward them to the Attorney General and ask that they be answered with the same speed.
Questions alone - which can be ignored or danced around - are not sufficient. This Committee has always taken the common sense approach that the best way to find out what people were thinking at the time they made decisions, is to get the documents they wrote at that time reflecting those thoughts. In fact, on a number of matters - including biometric passports, judicial sentencing practices, the Civil Rights Commission, and Legal Service Commission - the Chairman's first step has been to obtain and preserve relevant documents.
The Washington Post has written, that the Executive Branch treats Congress "as an annoying impediment to the real work of government. It provides information to Congress grudgingly, if at all. It handles letters from lawmakers like junk mail, routinely tossing them aside without responding."
It is time that Congress begins to serve as a genuine check and balance on the Administration. This is not a partisan issue, to me it's a constitutional issue, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help us, before it's too late.