Transcript of Interview with Henry Waxman…
Posted in on August 8th, 2007 3:41 pm by HL
HL: It’s an honor to have with us today Henry Waxman, the congressman representing the 30th district of California, which includes Hollywood. Mr. Waxman is also the Chairman on the Committee on oversight and Government Reform, and has singlehandedly been leading the charge against corruption in the Bush administration. Thank you for coming on
Henry Waxman: Thank You, pleased to be with you.
HL: You’re one of the fighters in the Democratic party and I want to thank you for all your hard work in terms of your investigation of corruption in Oversight I also want to say that I am proud to be from your district, I have voted for you every chance I’ve had, you are the only choice on the ballot I don’t even have to think about.
HW: (Laughs) Thank You
HL. OK lets get to some questions. In a video interview I watched with you back in April you stated that you did not think the American people were in favor of impeachment, do you still feel that way.
HW: I don’t know what the public opinion polls show…some people have told me the majority may be for impeachment, but I’m not sure of that. I don’t think that’s the essential point is whether there is a majority at this point, the question is whether there is enough evidence, whether congress has the ability to go down this road…whether the Senate can muster 2/3 for an Impeachment, when they can’t even get together 60 votes for most worthwhile legislation, and whether it will lead to the public coming to the conclusion that the Democrats may be doing to the Republican, what the Republicans did to the democrats which in my view would be a very bad thought.
HL: Some people are saying that it’s a moral thing, that the constitution mandates impeachment for an executive who tries to go too far in his executive powers regardless of the situation just to show that Congress is against what’s going on but I understand your point of view. According to a recent poll I read 54% of Americans are in favor of Impeachement, and with Bush’s approval rating at 28% I just think that a lot of people feel that now is the time to do it rather then allowing Bush to continue to do what he has been doing for the next 18 months or so .
HW: I appreciate that point of view, I have met with people from the district that certainly feel very strongly, there is even an office that has been opened very nearby my district office that has been set up to try to encourage people to (step up?) for impeachment. I share their concerns and their outrage over how the Bush administration has operated…I think that…however we need to keep In mind that impeachment is for High crimes and Misdemeanors not disagreements over policy, even if we couldn’t prove high crimes and misdemeanors I wish this administration was not in power because they have been incompetent and done a great disservice to the American people not only today, but for future generations in their foreign and domestic policies
HL; Well I certainly agree with you there…..Democrats, excluding you of course, have a reputation even among some of their constituents as being what some members of the blogoshpere call “weak and spineless,” they had a chance to end the war by denying funding to Bush, and then they went ahead and gave him the money anyway, and this past week with the FISA vote in which 16 Senators and 41 House Representatives voted to give Bush the power to continue the illegal wiretaps. Also when Al Gore won and John Kerry won the Presidency neither one of them really fought back as hard as they could. Why do you think it is that the Democrats can’t get it together with a unified front and fight, the way you do, and the way Republicans always seem to do?
HW: I think the charge against the Democrats is unfair we won control of the House and the Senate in this last election but by a narrow margin, we can only do what we can do with the votes we have. When it came to the Iraq War funding resolution, the House of Representatives twice voted to limit any funds to withdrawal of our troops and have a date when the war would be ended, and we would not have a combatant role, we pushed this view forward, the Senate even adopted it at one point and the President vetoed it, we tried it a second time and we couldn’t even get the Senate to go along, and then when the votes were counted, a majority..with the overwhelming vote to the Republicans and a very small number of Democrats voted for the Presidents funding of the war and for the FISA provision that was adopted. I’m proud to say I voted against both, and I’m proud to say the overwhelming number of Democrats voted against both in the House, and The Senate No on those measures, however we just don’t have a majority, or a strong enough majority to get past the 60 vote filibuster requirement in the Senate, or the 2/3 for the Congress to overturn Vetoes
HL: Do you think the 16 Senators and 41 Representatives voted for the FISA bill knowing they didn’t have the votes and doing it for Political reasons whereby they could get a favor from a Republican later on when they had a vote that they were trying to sponsor? Because this is a Political Science thing that you would learn in school but it just seems that The Republicans don’t play that way and they never capitulate to anything ..they never compromise on anything yet The Democrats seem to do you think that’s part of the reason why?
HW: No I think those Democrats that voted for both of those proposals, disagreed with them, did not do it for a promise of a favor, I think they did it because they thought there constituents would want them to do it. Or they did it out of conviction. There are democrats that come from districts that are very conservative even majority Republican, and that was their evaluation of their political situation vis-à-vis their constituents not their colleagues.
HL: I want to ask you about the Pat Tillman case, a report just came out where Doctors, who’s names were blacked out said that the bullet holes were so close that it appeared that he had been cut down by an M-16 from a mere 10 yards or so away. There was also a report that there was no Al-Qaeda in the area at the time of his death, and there is speculation now that he may have been murdered by his own people. I know you are involved in an investigation of the whole situation, can you bring us up to date on what’s going on?
HW: I don’t think the evidence indicates that he was intentionally murdered by fellow combatants in the US forces. I think that what happened was that he was killed by friendly fire by someone in the US Military who mistakenly thought he was a member of the enemy, that is called Friendly Fire. What concerned me the most was that even though it was known that he was killed by Friendly Fire almost immediately after he died
The report of an eyewitness to it after, was doctored to indicate he died fighting the enemy. The actual truth of his death was withheld from his family for at least a month during which time there was a nationally televised celebration of his heroism..with a story that was not true. And what we’re trying to find out is: How did this lie get started?
Why did it continue on for so long? Mrs. Tillman, his mother believed there were people in the administration looking at the man who was the posterboy for fighting this war being used for their own purposes, for their own propaganda to support the war, and to distract attention at the time, and to distract attention at the time when Abu Gharib was first emerging in public consciousness. That to me seems a much more damning conclusion and one we are examining carefully to see what evidence we have.
HL: So what’s the status on the hearings…
HW: We had a hearing with the Tillman family, and following that we had a hearing with specialist O’Neill who testified that his eyewitness report of the friendly fire killing was doctored and changed without his consent and he was told, commanded, not to tell Pat Tillman’s brother who served in Afghanistan with him that his brother had been killed by Friendly fire and that the whole effort to get him a hero fighting against the enemy had been a made up story and the truth was withheld from the family, That was our first hearing. Our second hearing was to examine what happened to a memo called a P4 memo, a memo that was written for 3 Generals, indicating right after Pat Tillman’s death, that they should try to get ahold of the President of The United States and others in the administration, not to speak to freely about Pat Tillman’s death being from enemy fire, because it looked like he had been killed by friendly fire. This was a memo that was sent to 3 Generals including General Abazaid, who told us at our hearing that he passed it on to the chief of staff, General Myers, General Myers said that he didn’t remember being told about the P4 memo he didn’t remember whether he told Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Rumsfeld didn’t remember if he was informed about it, and he didn’t remember whether he informed people at the White House about it. So their failure to remember something that seems to me to be quite consequential at the time..and an issue you would expect them to remember has brought us at least to this point, to a lack of conclusion as to how far that P4 memo went up the chain of command, and whether it reached the President. We are now trying to find out from the assistants of the President and his speechwriters how it was that a few days after Pat Tillman’s death The President went to a Press Club dinner and talked of Pat Tillman’s death without mentioning that he was killed in combat with the enemy a story that emerged later, and whether the White House was informed of the truth but withheld it from the family and the American people.
HL: And there seems to be a lot of this “I don’t recall” going on with members of the Bush Administration isn’t there?
HW: Absolutely Alberto Gonzalez is the best example of a man who uses that exact excuse over and over again.
HL: I had a question I was going to get to in a little while about him, here’s another thing I wanted to ask you about I did a posting on my website, and also on the website Democratic Underground for specific questions that people would be asking you, a few different people wanted to know about the Sibel Edmonds situation. Now I have to admit
That I didn’t know a whole lot about her, I’d heard of her and I kind of new what was going on. I did a little research and from what I understand Ms. Edmonds was a translator and an FBI whistleblower and uncovered a case that involved The American Turkish Council who is Turkey’s main lobbying group in the US. Turkey receives Billions of dollars in aid from the US. The case involves vast corruption at the state department including drug running, trading state secrets, arms trading, and the trading of Nuclear information and implicates according to Ms. Edmonds Neocons like Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and Dennis Hastert, The ATC, AIPAC, and Democratic and Republican congressmen. From what I understand you promised to hold hearings into this matter, those hearings have not happened. Will they? And if not why not?
HW: I don’t recall that I ever said that I was going to hold hearings on her specific case. I am concerned about Whistle blowers, there was a hearing about whistle blowers and I believe she came up at that hearing, and it resulted in legislation to protect whistle blowers, including whistle blowers given her type of circumstances. Those who have access to National Security information. That bill passed the House overwhelmingly, and I’m hopeful the Senate will take it up. I think if we are ever going to have a openness in Government we have to have protections for people who are genuine whistleblowers who give us information that we otherwise wouldn’t get. But I really don’t have a particular on her case.
HL: Would you consider holding hearings on what she has to say based on the fact that she was with the State Department, or the FBI, pretty high up, pretty credible witness.
HW: I know my staff has been in touch with her case, and maybe with her, and her supporters. I don’t want to say at this point that we are going to hold a hearing on her specific issue there are lots of matters to pursue for matters of investigation of oversight. And we are working as hard as we can. We’ll look at in the context of all the other issues we want to pursue.
Theres another 10 minutes in the interview. Click on the audio link to hear it all.
More of the transcript coming soon.