WMD-GATE: McCain seen as legitimizing presence on panel
WMD-GATE: McCain seen as legitimizing presence on panel
Sat Feb 7 16:22:53 2004

McCain seen as legitimizing presence on panel
By Sergio Bustos, Gannett News Service

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been critical of the postwar strategy.

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain's presence on a panel charged with investigating U.S. intelligence gathering will give the group immediate credibility because of his willingness to criticize the Bush administration, key lawmakers say.

The outspoken Arizona senator was one of seven individuals named by President Bush on Friday to serve on the independent commission that will evaluate the effectiveness of intelligence agencies in assessing which countries have weapons of mass destruction.

The nine-member commission — two members have yet to be appointed — will focus primarily on intelligence collected before the war with Iraq. It also will look into intelligence gathered on other countries, including North Korea.

McCain strongly supported Bush's decision last year to go to war with Iraq, but he has been critical of the administration's postwar strategy.

He was among several lawmakers who urged Bush to form the independent commission after David Kay, former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, told Congress that, contrary to intelligence reports, the Iraqi government did not have weapons of mass destruction prior to the U.S. invasion.

The Bush administration has tried to repair the damage caused by Kay's conclusions. The commission is seen as a way for the White House to answer the chorus of criticism on Capitol Hill.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers agreed McCain's appointment to the commission is a positive step.

They say McCain's willingness to openly challenge Bush — the two waged a bitter contest for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 — will validate the commission's work.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called McCain "a straight shooter."

"I don't know anybody more independent than John McCain," he told CNN. "He'll certainly tell it like it is."

Another committee member, Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, told PBS' NewsHour that McCain's appointment "shows this is going to be truly an independent commission."

However, other Democrats remain skeptical that the commission will accomplish its goals.

"The chief question now hanging over the commission's credibility is whether the White House will fully cooperate, or will they repeat the pattern of stonewalling they have shown with the 9-11 commission?" said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

In a statement released immediately following Bush's announcement, McCain said the president made "a wise decision" in forming the commission.

"I am pleased to be able to share in the great responsibility of examining this critical issue for our national security," he said. "In our war against terrorism, it is imperative that we guarantee the credibility and effectiveness of our intelligence capabilities."

McCain was attending an international security conference in Munich, Germany, on Friday.

He told reporters there that he does not believe Bush misrepresented the intelligence gathered on Iraq to justify the war.

"The president of the United States, I believe, would not manipulate any kind of information for political gain or otherwise," said McCain. "Perhaps mistakes were made and those are what we have to look at in a broad variety of areas. There's no massive conspiracy that I've seen."

US Senator John McCain

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Jeb Bush Hires President's Foe
Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002

Jeb Bush Hires President's Foe

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has hired a campaign spokesman who, when he worked for Sen. John McCain's failed presidential campaign, had harsh words for the governor's brother, George W. Bush.

After McCain's victory in New Hampshire's Republican primary in early 2000, mouthpiece Todd Harris said: "For a year now, Americans have been spoon-fed the myth by the Bush campaign that he was our party's best hope for victory. What we're seeing now is that's not the case."

Fortunately Harris was wrong then, but this time he appears to be siding with a winner. Jeb Bush, hoping to be the first Republican to win re-election as Florida governor, is trouncing former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, the Democrats' likely nominee, in the polls.

Gov. Bush is stepping up his campaign and hopes the president can attend his fund-raiser Wednesday in Washington, the Associated Press reported today.

For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb 06, 2004

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) issued the following statement today in response to the announcement from the White House regarding his appointment to the Intelligence Commission:

“President Bush made a wise decision in creating the bi-partisan commission on intelligence. I am pleased to be able to share in the great responsibility of examining this critical issue for our national security. In our war against terrorism, it is imperative that we guarantee the credibility and effectiveness of our intelligence capabilities. I will do my very best to help find the answers that the American people have a right to know.”



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