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URGENT: House Investigation of Downing Street Minutes Nears Vote Deadline
Rick Gagliano | 8/26/05

Reported on Wednesday, August 24, by a meager number of media outlets (a search on Google News produced all of ONE result, this, from Political Affairs Magazine) Congressman Jim Leach (R) of Iowa has become the first Republican to publicly announce that he would cosponsor the bill (H. Res. 375) by representative Barbara Lee (D) of California.

The bill, a resolution of inquiry, introduced by Lee in the House of Representatives on July 20, 2005 and referred to the Committee on International Relations on the same day, requests (quoting directly from the bill), "the President and directing the Secretary of State to transmit to the House of Representatives not later than 14 days after the date of the adoption of this resolution all information in the possession of the President and the Secretary of State relating to communication with officials of the United Kingdom between January 1, 2002, and October 16, 2002, relating to the policy of the United States with respect to Iraq."

The bill was originally co-sponsored by 25 other House members, all Democrats. Since that time, another 28 have signed on as co-sponsors, including Leach, who has previously been critical of the Bush administration's policies on the War in Iraq.

The U. S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations is comprised of 50 members - 23 Democrats and 27 Republicans. As of this writing, 10 Democrat members of the committee have publicly signed on as co-sponsors. A majority of 26 committee members is needed for passage.

A vote on the resolution must take place on or before September 16.

Including Leach with all 23 Democrats on the committee (assuming that the vote will proceed along party lines), the total now seemingly in favor of passage is 24. Representative Ron Paul (R), the libertarian firebrand from Texas, is widely assumed to be leaning toward co-sponsorship as well, leaving the margin at just one more Republican vote for passage.

The bill also has the particular status of a privileged resolution, meaning that if the committee cannot secure the required votes for passage, Congresswoman Lee has the right to seek a full House vote.

Of course, with the Republican majority in the House, passage of the resolution on that basis appears slim.

Noting both how close the committee vote may be and the importance of having the administration disclose vital pre-war documents, it is incumbent on the American public, and especially those who reside in the districts represented by members of the International Relations Committee, to contact their reps and urge their vote in favor of H. Res. 375.

When Congress reconvenes on September 6, most of the news media will be focused on the Senate hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John Roberts rather than follow the tickly issues of this House resolution.

The reality of the situation is stark: if the committee passes the resolution of inquiry, the administration would be required to reveal any and all information and communications with the UK relating to the lead-up to the war in Iraq, which could lead to more information damaging to the Bush administration and eventually focus efforts toward impeachment.

Failure of the administration to release documents could lead to subpoenas from the committee or charges of contempt of Congress.

The passage of this bill should therefore be of particular interest to anti-war activists, as an effective means to end the war in Iraq would be to depose the administration that sent us there in the first place.

Charges that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and their staffs purposely misled Congress, the United Nations and the American public have been levied against them since the release of the Downing Street Minutes, mostly by internet bloggers and political web sites, while the complacent - and some say complicit - mainstream press in America has not seen fit to pursue the story nor investigate further.

The Downing Street Minutes (or Memo, as it has been called), refers to a document leaked to the Sunday Times of London and published on May 1 and May 29, 2005. The "minutes," dated July 23, 2002, are a classified document covering a meeting between UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and others, ostensibly, Richard Dearlove, then head of the British intelligence service, who alleged that the Bush administration had already decided on going to war in Iraq.

According to the minutes, Dearlove stated, "military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

After the revelations of the Downing Street Minutes, Democrat Congressman John Conyers of Michigan sent a letter - co-signed by 89 other House Members - to the President, seeking information about the administration's policies concerning Iraq at the time and also asking whether anyone in the Bush administration questioned the authenticity of the leaked document.

To date, nobody from the administration has responded to Conyers nor denied the authenticity of the document.

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Following are links to articles and web sites which relate to this issue now before Congress, plus a listing of all members of the House Committee on International Relations.

Article on Rep. Jim Leach cosponsoring resolution of inquiry:

The text of the Resolution, H. Res. 375, a list of current co-sponsors, and what you can do to help: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/902

Another link to the full text of H. Res. 375:

Link to AfterDowningStreet.Org

Members of the House Committee on International Relations:

Henry J. Hyde, Chairman (R)
Illinois, 6th District
No email accepted from outside legislative district

James A. Leach (R)
Iowa, 2nd District

Tom Lantos (D)
California, 12th District

Christopher H. Smith, Vice Chairman (R)
New Jersey, 4th District

Howard L. Berman (D)
California, 28th District

Dan Burton (R)
Indiana, 5th District

Gary L. Ackerman (D)
New York, 5th District

Elton Gallegly (R)
California, 24th District

Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D)
American Samoa

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R)
Florida, 18th District

Donald M. Payne (D)
New Jersey, 10th District

Dana Rohrabacher (R)
California, 46th District

Robert Menendez (D)
New Jersey, 13th District

Edward R. Royce (R)
California, 40th District

Sherrod Brown (D)
Ohio, 13th District

Peter T. King (R)
New York, 3rd District

Brad Sherman (D)
California, 27th District

Steve Chabot (R)
Ohio, 1st District

Robert Wexler (D)
Florida, 19th District

Thomas G. Tancredo (R)
Colorado, 6th District

Eliot L. Engel (D)
New York, 17th District

Ron Paul (R)
Texas, 14th District

William D. Delahunt (D)
Massachusetts, 10th District

Darrell Issa (R)
California, 49th District

Gregory W. Meeks (D)
New York, 6th District

Jeff Flake (R)
Arizona, 6th District

Barbara Lee (D)
California, 9th District

Jo Ann Davis (R)
Virginia, 1st District

Joseph Crowley (D)
New York, 7th District

Mark Green (R)
Wisconsin, 8th District

Earl Blumenauer (D)
Oregon, 3rd District

Jerry Weller (R)
Illinois, 11th District

Shelley Berkley (D)
Nevada, 1st District

Mike Pence (R)
Indiana, 6th District

Grace F. Napolitano (D)
California, 38th District

Thaddeus G. McCotter (R)
Michigan, 11th District

Adam B. Schiff (D)
California, 29th District

Katherine Harris (R)
Florida, 13th District

Diane E. Watson (D)
California, 33rd District

Joe Wilson (R)
South Carolina, 2nd District

Adam Smith (D)
Washington, 9th District

John Boozman (R)
Arkansas, 3rd District

Betty McCollum (D)
Minnesota, 4th District

J. Gresham Barrett (R)
South Carolina, 3rd District

Ben Chandler (D)
Kentucky, 6th District

Connie Mack (R)
Florida, 14th District

Dennis A. Cardoza (D)
California, 18th District

Jeff Fortenberry (R)
Nebraska, 1st District

Michael McCaul (R)
Texas, 10th District

Ted Poe (R)
Texas, 2nd District

The Committee home page can be found at: http://wwwc.house.gov/international_relations

The full membership, with links to each representative's individual home page is at: http://wwwc.house.gov/international_relations/fullmem.htm

Rick Gagliano is the publisher of Downtown Magazine (http://www.dtmagazine.com), an informational web site focusing on politics, business and sports.

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