House Democrats Rebuke State Department's Secrecy On Iraqi Corruption

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 2:09 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democrats pushed Tuesday for an official censure of the State Department because of its refusal to divulge public details on Iraqi corruption, in what has become the latest partisan tussle on the war and the Bush administration's classification policies.

``The Bush administration is hiding the truth while seeking hundreds of billions of dollars and placing our troops in danger. And we cannot allow this to happen,'' said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The House was expected to pass narrowly a resolution by Waxman saying the administration had abused its power by classifying U.S. assessments on corruption inside Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government.

``Five years ago abuse of the classification system got us into this war. It's time for this abuse to end,'' Waxman said.

The nonbinding measure is one of several challenges to President Bush's management of the war by Democrats, who lack a veto-proof majority for tougher legislation ordering troops home.

Republicans called it a political stunt.

``This resolution is just the latest find in the frantic search for proxy anti-war votes that the leadership has staged to feed an increasingly restive left-wing of their party,'' said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the top Republican on Waxman's committee.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's top adviser on Iraq on Monday denied there has been any attempt to downplay corruption in Iraq or to withhold information from Congress.

Corruption is an ``endemic, pernicious problem'' throughout Iraq's government and concerns U.S. and Iraqi leaders alike, State Department Iraq coordinator David Satterfield told reporters. ``It is not something we have ever tried to diminish the importance of, or protect,'' he said.

Satterfield said the officials testifying were not covering for al-Maliki. He insisted that the State Department's decision to classify certain material was made only to protect individual privacy or to prevent raw unproven allegations of corruption from becoming public prematurely.

Earlier this month, in congressional hearings, State Department officials told Waxman's panel that while corruption was a problem, discussing detailed allegations could damage U.S.-Iraqi relations.