CONFUSING AND CONTRADICTORY SNIPPETS. Waxman's Oversight Committee asked Secretary Rice to appear (after delaying her appearance to April 25) in order to investigate her "personal role" in the false reports on uranium in Niger. (Download the full documents here.) Waxman writes that the State department's responses thus far have been a "collection of snippets of public statements that [Rice] and other White House officials have made over the years" that are "confusing and contradictory."

The State department refused the request in a seven-page statement issued yesterday by Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Bergner, spottily detailing the events from the beginning of the war. It begins, "The President's speech did not actually refer to Niger, but to Africa." Their argument now seems to be that although the reports that Niger was selling uranium were false, other countries could have been the ones Bush meant when he referred to "Africa." It also says that Rice "does not have the information necessary to respond to this request" and furthermore, that the state department does not "maintain comprehensive records on this issue."

Talk about the incompetence dodge.

--Kay Steiger

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