Robert Novak

 The Hinchey resolution was debated for two hours by the International Relations Committee on Dec. 8. Rep. Brad Sherman of California amended it to make sure it would apply only to presidential documents "relevant to Iraq" and then misquoted Bush by telling his colleagues: "I think what we are trying simply to do is let the American people decide for themselves. ... Find out what happened when our president said that Niger had the uranium things that caused this whole debate."

 One problem with the Democratic attack is that in July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that the intelligence community agreed that "Iraq was attempting to procure uranium from Africa." Other than Sherman, committee members had little to say about the famous 16 words.

 The other Democrats used their time to attack the Republican president and the Republican majority in Congress. "Nine times," said veteran Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, "this Republican majority has whitewashed the Republican administration's lying to the American people." Chairman Henry Hyde responded by reading Ackerman's floor speech of Oct. 8, 2002, asserting, "We know al-Qaida elements have already been at work soliciting Iraqi aid in this field."

 The vote on Oct. 8 was on a motion to report "adversely" the Hinchey resolution. Rep. James Leach of Iowa, the committee's second-ranking Republican and a critic of the Iraq intervention, voted "no," and two other Republicans did not vote. As a result, the vote failed 24 to 24.

 The resolution was brought up again in committee last Thursday, this time to be reported "without recommendation." Leach passed his vote, and with several absentees, the motion carried, meaning the resolution was dead for now. Democrats are sure to try again in a campaign that may not be serious, but is persistent.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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