Hearing with Secretary Rice: Waxman and Welch’s Questions

House Panel Critical of Iraq Contractors
Anne Flaherty, Associated Press – October 25, 2007

Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, said Thursday that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has issued an order requiring his approval of any corruption investigations of himself or senior ministry officials.

Waxman, D-Calif., said the order essentially grants immunity to al-Maliki and his ministry at a time when fraud and abuse is rampant and hurting reconstruction efforts.

“These are not unfounded allegations,” Waxman said. “This is Nouri al-Maliki’s edict that no one will be referred to court unless he approves it.”

See several clips from yesterday’s hearing in the Gavel’s post from the time. Below, watch previously unposted clips of Chairman Waxman and Rep. Peter Welch (VT-AL) questioning Secretary Rice on a directive issued by Prime Minister Maliki’s office (pdf), which appears to effectively immunize the Prime Minister and his current and former ministers from investigation:

Chairman Waxman: “This order was shown to us by Judge Radhi. It was discussed at our October 4th hearing, we even asked Ambassador Butler from the State Department about it. And we expected you would come in a give us your view of such an order, because it in effect says, while you believe everything is going to be investigated in Iraq, they are not planning to investigate corruption by the Prime Minister or any of his ministers. And if that’s the order I think you ought to tell us that you are as outraged as we are because we want corruption investigated, and not just left for you to get back to us another time.”
Rep. Welch: “The question is, if this order that gives blanket authority to Prime Minister to block any prosecution stands, and exists, will you ask the President in furtherance of the need of the American taxpayer and the American soldier to know about corruption, will you ask the President to demand that the Prime Minister repudiate and rescind this order?”
Secretary Rice: “Uh, what we have said, and I will repeat, the United States will not support a policy that would prevent the investigation or the bringing to justice of any official in Iraq…”
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