White House Waffles on Intel Committee Push For Documents

Yesterday I wrote up an item asking whether there was a connection between Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee saying they might run their own 9/11 inquiry (with, apparently subpoena power under an obscure Intel committee rule), and an AP report of the White House's sudden willingness to turn over documents to the committee.

As the story about the Democrats came from a British paper, I noted there was a greater than average chance it might be wrong. British papers don't always get the details right in US political stories, and are anyway less obsessive about details than US papers. Now, however, it seems as if maybe it was the AP story that is missing part of the picture. Or rather, that the White House had a change of heart (or can't get its story straight, or has hung a Senator out to dry — either of which is the sign of a sinking ship…).

Today's AP story, by William C. Mann, says, Senator, U.S. Disagree on Iraq Inquiry says,

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee expects the White House to give the panel access to all materials it sought for its inquiry into prewar information on Iraq. A spokesman for President Bush indicates he shouldn't be so sure.

Both Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and White House spokesman Trent Duffy spoke Sunday of “a spirit of cooperation” regarding the documents. That's where agreement seemed to end.

Roberts said White House aides told committee staff members late Friday of acquiescence, on behalf of the National Security Council, to the committee's demands. The Pentagon also said it would cooperate, Roberts said on CNN's “Late Edition.”

The committee had set a deadline of noon last Friday.

While agreeing on a new spirit in relations with the committee, Duffy, with Bush in Crawford, Texas, said he could offer no concrete promises and refused to confirm Roberts' assertion of agreement on a turnover.

“We've had productive conversations about ways we can work with and assist the committee,” Duffy said. “While the committee's jurisdiction does not cover the White House, we want to be helpful and we will continue to talk to and work with the committee in a spirit of cooperation.”

Looks like this one will run for a while.

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