Prowler's point about Rockefeller's private venture into pre-war diplomacy is one we need to keep firmly in mind in the coming months. On FNC yesterday, Rockefeller said:
"I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11."
Now think about what was going on in January 2002: (1) we were still trying to get the UN Blixiecrats to do their job in inspecting Iraq, and were doing what little we could to get Iraq to cooperate; (2) we were performing intensive intelligence gathering and analysis to determine whether Saddam's WMD programs were ongoing; (3) we were dealing with Britain and the Axis of Cheese to try to get the UN set up to deal with this; and (4) President Bush was talking to the same arab heads of state that Rockefeller visited, asking for their help.
We now know that Rockefeller's trip provided a data point to the arab states that must have been passed on to Saddam, and that he must have acted on this information. What did Saddam do at that point?
By March 2002, Kofi Annan had gotten into the act, telling the world that there should be no military action against Iraq, and meeting with an Iraqi foreign minister to lay the rules for restarting the Blixiecrat inspections. In the months that followed, there were Congressional hearings to ventilate experts' opinions on whether Saddam really was a danger. And then the president decided to take the Iraq question to the UN. Where -- from September 2002 through early March 2003 -- we tried, unsuccessfully, to get the UN to take action to enforce its own resolutions. And, in those six months -- according to the Duelfer Iraq Study Group report -- unknown cargoes were shipped in hundreds of trucks from Iraq to Syria. WMD? Maybe.
Sen. Rockefeller is already under criminal investigation over the leak of a top-secret satellite program. And it's more than likely that he or his staff were the leakers of the CIA secret prison story to Dana Priest of the WaPo. Now we know about his "secret" mission which may have given Saddam more time than even the UN did to prepare for the war that came more than a year later. While the FBI questions Rockefeller and his staff about the CIA prison leaks -- which they absolutely should -- it's time for Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist to take steps to toss Rockefeller off the Intelligence Committee. His guilt or innocence in the leaks aside, his 2002 trip demonstrates clearly that he cannot be trusted with any post that carries the international significance and credibility of Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
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