The following is the work product of a Democrat staffer for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
This committee is supposed to be one of those where partisanship is left at the door.
The Committee is composed of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats to ensure balance.
Not to be parochial, but I would like to hear from some Americans, too, and yes, Billy, you are welcome also.
We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:
1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard. For example, in addition to the president's State of the Union speech, the chairman has agreed to look at the activities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department. The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and co-signs our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. (Note: we can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.)
2) Assiduously prepare Democratic "additional views" to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it. In that regard, we have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims and contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry. The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an independent commission (i.e. the Corzine amendment).
3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time-- but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year either:
A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report -- thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public: 1) additional views on the interim report; 2) announcement of our independent investigation; and 3) additional views on the final investigation; or
B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue. We could attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the "use" of intelligence.
In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter foot-dragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman; we have independently submitted written questions to DoD; and we are preparing further independent requests for information.
Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and methods.