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Pelosi Renews Call for Investigation of Prewar Intelligence

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed the Bush administration Wednesday, asking why the White House is not more forthcoming with intelligence information.

With President Bush’s admission that his claim, delivered in his State of the Union address, that Saddam Hussein’s had purchased enriched uranium from Niger for a nuclear weapons program was based on a forged document, Democrats have renewed calls for a full investigation into the administration’s prewar intelligence.

“It was of course no surprise to anyone” who knew the document was a forgery that its use would raise questions, Pelosi said Wednesday.

People within the administration knew the Niger claim was no good, Pelosi continued, but whether Bush knew remains to be seen.

“All we want to know is the truth. It’s not a question of assigning blame; it’s a question of avoiding another terrorist attack,” Pelosi said.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) answered the same question about whether there should be an investigation.

“Well, this is a very important admission; it’s a recognition that we were provided faulty information,” Daschle said. “And I think it’s all the more reason why a full investigation of all of the facts surrounding this situation [should] be undertaken — the sooner the better.”

“Bipartisan investigations of this kind have been done in the past, to great success,” Daschle continued. “Now is the time to do one in this case.”

Pelosi went beyond her Senate counterpart Wednesday.

“It’s more than about Niger,” she said, answering a reporter’s question after conducting a press conference on education.

If Americans are to trust their leaders and the decisions they make, there needs to be public airings when questions of this magnitude arise, she said.

“This White House resists sharing information,” she charged. “There is a pattern of resisting information sharing.”

She challenged the administration’s decision not to make available the report produced by the joint panel that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack to the special 9/11 Commission.

“What are they trying to hide?” she asked, telling the reporter whose question triggered her long, impassioned response: “You touched a nerve.”

Daschle echoed Pelosi’s comments Wednesday.

“The clock is ticking on the 9/11 Commission, and I think it’s a troubling sign when you have two highly respected leaders of that commission, a Republican and a Democrat, publicly confronting the administration with regard to its unwillingness to share information and to be more forthcoming,” Daschle said. “We will run out of time by May of 2004. And what a travesty it would be if by that time we don’t have a better understanding of what happened prior to 9/11.”

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