When the House Oversight Committee met today to discuss corruption in Iraq, as well as a formal resolution that objects to the administration's policy of withholding information about Iraqi corruption, and how it affects the so-called insurgency, committee chair Henry Waxman spoke about the State Department's ongoing efforts to hinder any congressional investigation. Rep. Waxman said that "Incredibly Secretary Rice directed these officials not to answer any questions about the extent of corruption in Iraq and its effect on political reconciliation and the insurgency. Her position is that all information that reflects poorly on the Maliki government is classified. The State Department even retroactively classified memos about corruption in Iraq after the Committee requested them."
Reportedly, Secretary of State Rice offered to answer the committee's questions only on the condition that they agree to keep the information they receive "secret."
As Henry Waxman says, "these efforts to stifle debate are an embarrassment," but are they legal? When the State Department, the Justice Department, and the executive branch decide that they're not answerable to Congress, and the American people, there is nothing left but the illusion of a representative government. Clearly, the President isn't the only one who takes his orders from a higher authority; Condi Rice does, too, only her "higher authority" happens to be sitting in the Oval Office.
Apart from confirming what we already know, namely that this administration has turned driving in reverse into an art form, granting retroactive immunity from prosecution to telecommunication companies that break established privacy laws, and retroactive classification to a State Department are little more than thinly veiled attempts to cover the tracks of a government gripped with fear of discovery of its own complicity, and carpetbagging in an increasingly broken war.
Any pledge of secrecy, and coterie of silence, is an insult to every taxpayer, and should be front page news!