(CNSNews.com) - In rejecting another bid by congressional Democrats to get special hearings into the leaking of a CIA agent's covert identity, a top House Republican Tuesday suggested that Democrats really just want another excuse to attack the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.
After I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the now former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday in the Valerie Plame controversy, U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) made his fourth request for hearings into the matter.
And once again, Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, was denied. In his response, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) the committee's chairman, questioned even the premise for Waxman's request.
Once an undercover operative for the CIA, Valerie Plame's identity was exposed after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson returned from a fact-finding trip to Africa and downplayed the threat of Saddam Hussein's alleged nuclear weapons program.
The alleged leak, which Wilson contends was an act of political revenge by the Bush administration for his criticism of the invasion of Iraq, produced a long investigation and last week an indictment against Libby, charging him with lying and obstructing justice during that probe.
But the indictment has not satisfied Waxman's desire for congressional hearings. Tuesday, Davis used quotation marks when referring to Waxman's request for a Capitol Hill inquiry "into the leak of the identity" of Plame and \v challenged\v0 what Waxman really wanted to investigate.
"When you suggest that the Committee address 'how the leak of Mrs. (Valerie Plame) Wilson's identity relates to the broader issue of whether the President and his top advisors used misleading intelligence to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq,'" Davis wrote Waxman, "what you really do is express dissatisfaction with [Independent Prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald's declaration that the indictment of Mr. Libby 'is not about the war.'"
Waxman expressed his belief that only a congressional investigation, "which is not constrained by the rules of grand jury secrecy," will sufficiently answer questions about "what role the President and his top political advisor played in jeopardizing national security."
Davis has said that he is "very disappointed in the manner in which the White House has handled this matter," but he stressed that a congressional investigation is unnecessary as long as an independent inquiry is making progress. Davis noted that the House Democratic leadership apparently agrees with his conclusion, at least some of the time.
"I find it ironic that in this case we have an independent investigation of the Administration, and you feel a congressional inquiry is also required," Davis wrote. "Yet, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, your leadership in the House has asserted that only an independent review is acceptable, saying a congressional investigation will inevitably result in a partisan "whitewash.
"This logic - or lack thereof - escapes me," Davis concluded. "Your case and its credibility would be aided by some consistency."
Davis said there would be no congressional inquiry into the Plame matter at this time. But he did assure Waxman that he would continue to monitor the independent prosecutor's investigation and would reconsider congressional hearings if the criminal probe stalled.
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