MORE DELAYING TACTICS...

MORE DELAYING TACTICS ON IRAQ INTEL PROBE FROM PAT ROBERTS. Senator Pat Roberts is so determined to delay a real probe into the Bush administration's prewar deceptions that he's breaking the promises he makes in his own press releases. On March 14, Roberts, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, put out a press release that purported to lay out a timetable for the committee's ongoing probe.

One of Roberts' key promises in the release was that on April 5 -- over three weeks ago -- a preliminary draft of the probe into the "public statements" section of the investigation would be delivered to committee members. This would be a very important step. That's because the "statements" section is the most critical and controversial part of the ongoing "Phase II" of this probe -- it's supposed to investigate White House conduct, i.e., whether prewar public statements were supported by intelligence. From Roberts' release:

April 5, 2006 - Preliminary draft on �statements� section of Phase II ready for members/liaison to review during the two week recess.

You'll no doubt be surprised to hear this, but guess what: It didn't happen. Wendy Morigi, a spokesperson for Senator Jay Rockefeller, the committee's ranking Democrat, acknowledged in an interview with me that committee members hadn't yet received the draft of the "statements" section.

Roberts has managed repeatedly to prevent a serious probe into this area -- the line of inquiry potentially most damaging to Bush -- instead focusing on the conduct of the intelligence agencies themselves. First he successfully delayed it until past the 2004 election. Now, according to a report yesterday in The Hill, Roberts is looking to put it off yet again. Thus the failure to deliver the draft.

The irony here is that Roberts' timetable was created specifically to push back against Democratic critics who had shut down the Senate to protest Roberts' refusal to finish this section of the probe. Also from the release:

�This schedule provides a reasonable time frame for member input as we complete the inquiry and move to schedule a public release date for each element,� Roberts said. �If people are serious about finishing Phase II, they don�t need to shut down the Senate or hold press conferences decrying the process, they just need to come do the work."

The Dems, of course, would very much like to do the work. Roberts just won't let them. His M.O. is simple: First he issues press releases promising action to blunt Democratic criticism; then he blithely doesn't bother coming through on his own promises.

--Greg Sargent

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