[Congressional Record: February 26, 2008 (House)]
[Page H1065-H1072]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 18, 2007, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) is 
recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. ROHRABACHER. Madam Speaker, I come to the floor tonight with a 
heavy heart. The nature of the allegations I make speaks poorly of this 
administration. In my heart of hearts, I have always wanted this 
administration to succeed, but the issue at hand is of such magnitude 
that the American people need to know what is being done and what 
precedents are being set.
  In my tenure as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs 
Committee, both as chairman and ranking member of an investigative 
subcommittee, I have witnessed firsthand behavior by the Bush 
administration which I find deeply troubling.
  The disdain and uncooperative nature that this administration has 
shown toward Congress, including Republican Members, is so egregious 
that I can no longer assume that it is simply bureaucratic incompetence 
or isolated mistakes. Rather, I have come to the sad conclusion that 
this administration has intentionally obstructed Congress' rightful and 
constitutional duties.
  Tonight I will discuss some serious examples of this administration's 
contemptuous disregard for the authority delegated to Congress by the 
Constitution. This bad attitude has consistently manifested itself in a 
sophomoric resentment toward Congress' constitutional role as an equal 
branch of government. The result has been an executive branch too 
insecure to let Congress do its job, an executive branch that sees 
Congress, even when Republicans held the majority, as a rival and a 
spoiler, rather than as elected representatives of the American people 
playing a rightful role in establishing policy for our great country.
  Unfortunately, when the President of the United States rejects the 
legitimacy of congressional prerogatives, there are serious 
consequences. Tonight, I will provide examples of how this 
administration for the past 7 years has undercut congressional 
investigators, has lied to Members of Congress, and has forged ahead 
with secret deals in spite of efforts and pleas by Congress to be 
informed, if not involved.
  In the last Congress, I was chairman of the Oversight and 
Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In 
that capacity, I learned that in the time immediately leading up to the 
bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, convicted Oklahoma 
City bomber and murderer Terry Nichols had been in Cebu City in the 
Philippines. His stay in Cebu City coincided with another visitor to 
that city, al Qaeda's terrorist leader Ramsey Yousef. Interestingly, 
both Nichols and Yousef used similar bombs and methods just 2 years 
apart to blow up two American targets. Yousef was the mastermind of the 
first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Nichols was a 
coconspirator in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 
  By the way, I would like to acknowledge that today happens to be the 
15-year anniversary of that first devastating attack on the World Trade 
  These individuals, one American and one Arab, were responsible for 
planning two of the most lethal terrorist attacks on our countrymen in 
our history. We are to believe that by coincidence they ended up in an 
off-the-beaten-track city in the Southern Philippines? One doesn't have 
to be a conspiracy nut to understand that this coincidence is certainly 
worth looking into.
  I started an official congressional investigation sanctioned by Henry 
Hyde, then the chairman of the International Relations Committee, to 
see whether Terry Nichols or his accomplice, Timothy McVeigh, had 
foreign help in their murderous terrorist bombing of the Alfred Murrah 
Building in Oklahoma City.
  In light of the fact that Terry Nichols and Ramsey Yousef were both 
in Cebu City at the same time prior to hauntingly similar terrorist 
attacks, it was no stretch for a congressional investigative committee 
to be looking into this matter. However, the Bush administration felt 
quite differently. To those I had to deal with, it was ``case closed, 
don't bother us.'' They had looked into the matter, and Congress should 
simply and blindly accept their conclusion that there was no Nichols-
Yousef connection. ``Don't bother us.'' This was at times bureaucratic 
laziness, and at other times it was clearly based on a disdain for 
congressional investigations and authority.
  During my investigation, I secured Ramsey Yousef's cell phone 
records. The records were part of the phone calls that he made when he 
was in that New York City area in the months just prior to the bombing 
of the World Trade Center in 1993.
  The phone records show that Ramsey Yousef made at least two phone 
calls to a row house in Queens, New York. 

[[Page H1066]]

That row house was occupied by the cousin of Terry Nichols' Filipina 
wife. Let me repeat that. The terrorist bomber of the first World Trade 
Center attack, the nephew of al Qaeda 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh 
Mohammad, made phone calls to the same row house that was occupied by 
Terry Nichols' cousins-in-law just 2 months before he exploded the bomb 
in the garage of the World Trade Center 15 years ago. Another 

  I gave this information to the Department of Justice and since that 
time have repeatedly sought their help in investigating this matter. 
Time after time, my requests have gone unanswered or have just been 
flatly denied.
  I also asked the Department of Justice on numerous occasions to help 
me investigate the name Samir Khahil. This name is on a list of 
unindicted co-conspirators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 
again in connection with Ramsey Yousef.
  It also is the name, by the way, of an Iraqi man in Oklahoma City who 
at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing employed an Arab immigrant who 
fits the description originally made by numerous witnesses as to John 
Doe II.
  This Oklahoma-based Iraqi lied, meaning the John Doe II look-alike, 
lied to the investigators about his whereabouts at the time of the 
Oklahoma City bombing, yet there was little if any follow-up on this 
John Doe II look-alike. In fact, the FBI simply declared that John Doe 
II never existed. The existence of John Doe II, let it be remembered, 
was based on a sketch and sketches derived from witnesses on the scene 
of the Oklahoma City bombing and the truck rental company in which that 
bomb was placed on a truck from that truck rental company. Those 
witnesses described a man who, as I say, looked very much like Samir 
Khahil's employee.
  Now, I have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to tell me if 
the Samir Khahil on the unindicted coconspirators list of the 1993 
World Trade Center bombing is the same Samir Khahil who employed a man 
originally identified as John Doe II, the bomber, the number two bomber 
in the Oklahoma City bombing. The Justice Department's answer: ``It 
would be too burdensome to find out if it was the same man.''
  Further, we asked help in finding the Arab immigrant who looked like 
John Doe II and the man who was employed by Samir Khahil. We traced him 
to Boston, but we have had no support or cooperation in finding this 
very possible terrorist, or at least terrorist suspect. He may well 
have been working at Boston's Logan Airport on 9/11/01, the day that a 
plane took off from that airport and was hijacked and crashed into the 
World Trade Center. Another weird coincidence to the Oklahoma City 
bombing. Another coincidence, yes.
  You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to believe that these things 
should be investigated. Instead, there has been no follow-through, no 
interest. The case is closed, forget it, both in terms of Samir Khahil 
and his Iraqi employer and employee; and both of these people, of 
course, reside in the United States right now.
  That is just a small taste of the deplorable lack of cooperation for 
a legitimate congressional investigation. And it was no fluke. I didn't 
just happen to snag some uncooperative Federal employee. No, this is 
the level of non-cooperation Congress has learned to expect from this 
  Yes, Departments and agencies do have limited resources, and I 
understand that. I used to work in the executive branch. So, yes, there 
may be some better uses for and some good uses for those limited 
resources and better uses for their time and investigators, rather than 
just following up on leads that are provided by Members of Congress.

                              {time}  1715

  You can hear someone explaining that. But the lack of cooperation 
that we have had goes far beyond the fact that they are not going to 
give their limited resources or even use some of their investigators to 
track down what most of us would consider a very worthwhile lead, 
especially considering that the terrorist that we are asking to look 
into currently resides in the United States and may well have had 
something to do with the bombing of the World Trade Center and the 
bombing of the Oklahoma City building there.
  But, again, a lot of my requests don't require a lot of time and 
effort on the part of the executive branch, and I still have been 
stonewalled. For the past year, for example, I have repeatedly 
requested to interview the imprisoned terrorist Ramzi Yousef. He is in 
Colorado and in strict lockup. He has been there for 10 years.
  This would have taken no time and no resources from any executive 
branch or Federal employee. None. This request is well within my 
committee's jurisdiction as ranking member of the Investigative 
Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
  This request has been supported by the chairman of the Investigative 
Subcommittee, the chairman of the full Foreign Affairs Committee, the 
chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and the chairman of the 
Intelligence Committee.
  Such attention by Congress should be welcomed by this administration 
and every administration. The legislative branch can help bring new 
information to light and inform the public.
  Nevertheless, the Department of Justice, consistent with its 
treatment of congressional inquiries during the tenure of this 
President, has dismissed this valid request. This request has been 
treated with what can only be described as contempt and condescension.
  The point is, unfortunately, that this rejectionist attitude is 
typical. It is not that they don't have enough resources to help out, 
to look into an easy matter to look into. It is just that they do not 
want to cooperate with Congress, even when it's a Republican in 
Congress, even when the Congress was controlled by a Republican 
  So, why would this administration obstruct congressional inquiries 
such as this? Remember, Ramzi Yousef was the mastermind behind several 
devastating terrorist attacks and plots against America. He led the 
first murderous attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, as I say.
  After fleeing to the Philippines, he and two other terrorists plotted 
to kill thousands of Americans by blowing up 12 commercial airliners 
over the Pacific at the same time. It was known as the Bojinka plot. It 
was within 2 weeks of being executed when it was discovered and 
thwarted by Philippine police.
  Interestingly, the terrorist operation, the Bojinka plot, was to take 
place about the same time as the Oklahoma City Federal building 
bombing, perhaps on the same day. We don't know. Perhaps we should 
know. Perhaps we should ask Ramzi Yousef about that.
  Ramzi Yousef has been in Federal prison for over a decade. He is a 
prisoner with a unique understanding of the al Qaeda terrorist 
structure. He is the nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 
the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
  In 2006, when I was the chairman of the House Oversight 
Investigations Subcommittee on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I was 
investigating Yousef's movements and activities not only in the United 
States but in the Philippines. I even traveled to the Philippines to 
question authorities who had captured Yousef's roommate and 
coconspirator in the Bojinka plot.
  In spite of that fact and in spite of the fact that I was looking 
into Yousef's terrorist activities and in spite of the fact that I had 
obtained new information about Yousef's phone calls right here in the 
United States and new information about his associates while he was in 
the United States, the Department of Justice still dismisses the effort 
and, more than that, they are obstructing a legitimate congressional 
investigation, refusing to permit this elected Member of Congress, a 
ranking member of a congressional investigating committee, to interview 
a Federal prisoner. They refused access to Yousef claiming that there 
is a ``ongoing investigation.''
  This prisoner has been in jail for over 10 years. It is more likely 
that what we have here is an ongoing coverup and not an ongoing 
investigation. In fact, I have been told recently by a former member of 
the Justice Department that they were told routinely simply to give 
answers that there is an ongoing investigation even if no ongoing 
investigation was underway, but simply using it as a phrase to dismiss 
a request from Congress.

[[Page H1067]]

  Well, this is outrageous, but it's typical of this administration. 
This is a lot more than just a hurtful pride on my part of being turned 
  This administration is setting a terrible precedent. What people have 
to understand, when I am turned down like this, is when there is a 
liberal Democrat in the White House, the President will have set that 
Members of Congress can simply be dismissed, and that when they are 
trying to do a congressional investigation need not be cooperated with, 
in fact, can be obstructed. Is that the type of President that we want? 
Is that acceptable? It shouldn't be acceptable to Democrats and it 
shouldn't be acceptable to Republicans.
  Doesn't Congress have a right to talk to Federal prisoners. Are these 
the rules of engagement? Is it really the rules of engagement that we 
want for our government that Members of Congress and the legislative 
branch don't have a right to talk to Federal prisoners?
  Well, that's apparently what the Bush administration is trying to 
establish as the executive authority, as executive authority, the right 
to deny congressional investigators access to Federal prisoners. The 
danger of this should be easy to understand, both on my side of the 
aisle, the Republican side, and the Democratic side of the aisle.
  Again, the attitude, apparent in the treatment of this request, is 
not an aberration or is it some sort of situation where this is not 
really a representative way the President has acted with his authority. 
No, I am afraid that's not the case.
  This request was first made and denied when the Republicans 
controlled the Congress and I was the chairman of the Investigative 
  Now Congress has a Democrat majority. In my position as ranking 
member of the International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight 
Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have seen it 
time and time again.
  Our subcommittee chairman, Bill Delahunt from Massachusetts, read in 
the newspaper that our President is negotiating a security agreement 
with the Iraqi Prime Minister that will govern the future relationship 
of our countries.
  Now let me say that again. The chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee 
on Foreign Affairs Committee is getting the information about a hugely 
important foreign bilateral security agreement by reading the 
newspaper. So, Chairman Delahunt conducted a hearing about the status 
of such an agreement and invited the administration to send a witness 
to testify before Congress.
  How did the administration respond? They ignored the request. So the 
hearing was held with a private panel of witnesses, and, yes, the 
public has a right and an obligation to fully understand such 
commitments that are being made by the President in our name.
  In a democratic society, policy is made after having an open 
dialogue. George Bush was elected President, not king.
  In another attempt last month, our subcommittee held another hearing 
on the Iraqi security agreement and, again, our panel invited and 
pleaded with the administration to provide a witness. Their response? 
  Our subcommittee held another, a third hearing on this topic. Again, 
our subcommittee invited the administration to attend and explain to 
Congress what kind of commitment our government has agreed to with the 
government of Iraq. Even our full committee chairman wrote letters 
asking for the administration to participate in the subcommittee 
hearing. All the requests to the administration by our committee and by 
the superiors in the full committee were ignored, except for one, and, 
in one instance, where the contact was made, and I am sad to say that 
once again this administration was less than honest on a matter of 
national importance, Chairman Dela-
hunt's subcommittee was told by a White House staffer that the 
administration's unwillingness to participate in hearings was because 
``There is nothing to talk about because we haven't put pen to paper'' 
on security, because they haven't put the pen to paper on the security 
agreement, supposedly.
  Well, when confronted with the fact that the New York Times had 
written a story saying that a 17-page agreement was being passed 
around, this White House staffer backtracked and quibbled.
  This is unacceptable, it's dishonest, and it's typical. It's like 
saying there is an ongoing investigation; don't discuss anything 
anymore with me. There is nothing going on here.
  Now, there is something going on, just as, instead of talking and 
trying to negotiate about what type of spokesman we could have at a 
hearing, instead, what we get is an undermining of the congressional 
right to oversee for the foreign policy decisions of this 
  This stonewalling prevailed until a few weeks ago, when Condoleezza 
Rice, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a person and a leader who I 
deeply admire, testified at a hearing of the full International 
Relations Committee.
  When asked about this issue, about witnesses not showing up from the 
State Department and this administration to explain to us in public and 
to discuss in public these very important agreements that are being 
negotiated with Iraq, she pledged at that time that there would be 
future witnesses dealing with this Iraqi agreement.
  At least Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, feels secure 
enough in this administration to do what's right and to talk directly 
to Congress and to send her people over to talk to us.
  Unfortunately, we had to go all the way to the Secretary of State 
before we could get anybody in this administration to participate. Let 
me note, I am a supporter of the President's Iraqi policies. I have 
been a supporter since day one. I supported the surge, and I am not in 
favor of some of the propositions made by my friends on the other side 
of the aisle, which I consider would be a precipitous leaving of Iraq 
and would cause damage, I believe.
  But that's not the point. The point is, Congress has a legitimate 
oversight responsibility and that the President of the United States 
should be discussing in public so that the public could understand why 
policy is being made rather than trying to secretly arrange a policy 
agreement and then surprise everybody, you know, as a done deal. Sadly, 
this administration's antipathy to the constitutional responsibilities 
of the legislative branch of government does not stop and end with my 
efforts and those of my subcommittee on investigations.
  In October of last year, 22 of my colleagues and I wrote to the 
Acting Attorney General, Peter Keisler, regarding the pending lie 
detector test for former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
  Madam Speaker, I submit for the Record, a copy of a letter concerning 
making that request of Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler.

                                 Washington, DC, October 10, 2007.
     Mr. Peter D. Keisler,
     Acting Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, 
       Dear Acting Attorney General Keisler: In 2005, former 
     Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger pled guilty to 
     the mishandling and destruction of classified documents.
       He admitted to entering the National Archives and 
     unlawfully removing, then subsequently destroying, classified 
     documents dealing with terrorist related issues. He removed 
     the documents by stuffing them down his pants and in his suit 
     jacket, presumably with the intention of getting rid of any 
     damning evidence showing his involvement in the failure of 
     our intelligence and law enforcement communities to prevent 
     the Sept. 11th attacks prior to his testimony before the 911 
     Commission. These documents have never been recovered.
       As part of a plea deal, Mr. Berger agreed to take a 
     polygraph test to be administered by the Department of 
     Justice. It has been two years since that agreement and Mr. 
     Berger has yet to fulfill his obligation.
       We are writing to officially request that as Attorney 
     General you direct the Department of Justice without any 
     further delay to administer a lie detector test to Mr. Berger 
     and determine what documents were stolen and how our National 
     Security was compromised.
       The Congress, and the American people, deserve to know the 
     facts of this crime and what Mr. Berger was covering up. 
     Therefore we respectfully request a directive be issued by 
     your office ordering Mr. Berger to surrender to the Justice 
     Department immediately and that a polygraph test be 
     administered forthwith.
                                                 Dana Rohrabacher,
                                               Member of Congress.

  In 2005, Sandy Berger pled guilty to the mishandling and destruction 

[[Page H1068]]

classified documents. He admitted that he unlawfully removed and 
subsequently destroyed classified documents from the National Archives. 
These documents dealt with the failure of our intelligence agencies 
during the Clinton administration to prevent the horrendous attacks on 
  As part of his plea, Mr. Berger agreed to a lie detector test which 
was given by the Department of Justice. This would determine what 
documents had been stolen by Mr. Berger. We are still waiting for that 
test to be administered.
  As a member, as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs 
Committee, I was and still am rightfully concerned about the length of 
time between his crime and the administration of his lie detector test.
  So on October 10, 2007, I sent a letter, that letter signed by 22 of 
my colleagues, asking the Department of Justice why the test had not 
been administered.
  On October 22, 2007, my office received a form letter acknowledging 
the DOJ's receipt of our inquiry. It was signed with an illegible 
signature. We have no idea who signed it. All we know is that he or she 
penned it ``for'' next to a printed name Brian Benczkowski.
  Principally, he is the principal Deputy Assistant Secretary General.

                              {time}  1730

  We were also given a tracking number so we could track any future 
correspondence. In spite of that fact, we received a computer-generated 
response and a tracking number to an official congressional inquiry, 
okay, signed by 23 Members of Congress. We had hoped that we would 
actually have an answer to our request and that there would actually be 
a human being rather than a tracking number that we could look to.
  Well, we got our wish and we got a letter back. On January 24, 2008, 
94 days after the letter, we received a response, and I submit the 
response for the Record.
                                            Department of Justice,

                                Office of Legislative Affairs,

                                 Washington, DC, January 24, 2008.
     Hon. Dana Rohrbacher,
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Congressman Rohrbacher: This is in response to your 
     letter, dated October 10, 2007, in which you requested that 
     the Department of Justice administer a polygraph examination 
     to Mr. Samuel Berger, who pleaded guilty in April 2005, to 
     violations of federal law relating to the removal of copies 
     of classified documents from the National Archives.
       We appreciate your interest and have enclosed a copy of our 
     letter, dated February 16, 2007, to the Honorable Henry A. 
     Waxman, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government 
     Reform, advising him of our views regarding the Minority 
     Staff Report that was issued regarding this matter. As stated 
     in our response to Chairman Waxman, we believe that there are 
     no facts that would justify a polygraph of Mr. Berger at this 
       We are sending an identical response to the other Members 
     who joined in your letter to us. Please do not hesitate to 
     contact this office if you would like additional assistance 
     regarding this or any other matter.
     Brian A. Benczkowski,
       Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

  The letter was dismissive and said that the DOJ found no reason to 
issue a polygraph test to Sandy Berger, and attached was an old letter 
the DOJ had sent to Chairman Waxman of the House Oversight and 
Government Reform Committee almost a year before our correspondence. 
The letter this time was signed by Brian Benczkowski.
  Madam Speaker, I have been a Member of Congress for 19 years. I have 
never seen such a pattern of blatant disregard and outright disdain for 
Members of Congress. If Sandy Berger is not to be polygraphed to verify 
the documents that were stolen from the Archives, we need to know why 
such verification is not being done. This administration wouldn't even 
give a respectable answer to the rightful inquiry of Members of 
Congress of why we are not verifying through a polygraph test what 
documents were stolen from the National Archives by the former National 
Security Adviser.
  On the one hand, this President believes he has a right to make 
demands on us. The President said in his State of the Union address 
that Congress must act on certain issues. We must do as he wishes. We 
must pass legislation he deems necessary. Yet while 23 Members of 
Congress write his Justice Department a serious letter of inquiry about 
a national security issue, we get a computer-generated form letter and 
a copy of an old response to a different inquiry. The bad attitude I am 
detailing is pervasive.
  The handling of a proposed totalization agreement with Mexico is 
again yet another example. The totalization agreements, and 
totalization agreements are not necessarily a bad thing, they can serve 
a useful function. Large corporations both in the United States and 
abroad often assign people to work in an overseas office for several 
years. During these years, employers are double taxed. They pay both 
Social Security and the equivalent tax in their native countries. 
Allowing the Social Security Administration and foreign agencies to 
give credit under one system towards retirement makes sense if there 
are a limited number of people involved and the people who are involved 
in this are working here legally and temporarily. The concept itself is 
not alarming.
  However, this is emphatically not the case with Mexico. We have 
millions of Mexican citizens living illegally in the United States. 
This is not a limited number of Swedish or Japanese executives who will 
only work here for a number of years and then go home. Not only are 
Mexicans not going to return to Mexico; the Mexican Government 
encourages them to stay in the United States. After all, if the U.S. is 
going to pay for their health care, their education and now their 
retirement, why should Mexico be bothered.
  Knowing the volatility of the American people on both the Social 
Security and illegal immigration issues, the totalization negotiations 
with Mexico were kept totally under wraps. Now remember, these 
negotiations with Mexico started in 2002 with a Republican-controlled 
Congress. One would think that a Republican administration would at the 
very least advise Congress, perhaps giving a status report, concerning 
such diplomatic efforts as the totalization negotiations with Mexico.
  Well, Congress did not know the details until it hit the press. 
Worse, these press releases on the agreement, put out by the 
administration, were misleading and it appears that Congress was being 
misled as to just what the administration had agreed to concerning 
Social Security benefits for Mexican nationals illegally working in the 
United States.
  Now, I have proposed legislation to ensure that no work done while 
someone is in this country illegally should be counted towards a Social 
Security benefit. The administration apparently agreed in the 
totalization agreement negotiations that illegal aliens from Mexico 
will be eligible for the same treatment under Social Security as U.S. 
citizens without ever becoming a legal resident or citizen. It took a 
long, drawn-out legal battle in the form of a Freedom of Information 
lawsuit to get the details of this agreement from the administration. 
Again, stonewalling and concealment, whether it deals with Iraq or 
whether it deals with a totalization agreement dealing with Social 
Security rights for the people from Mexico who come to our country 
  In both cases, regardless of how you feel about the Iraq policies or 
Social Security for illegal immigrants into our country, the point is 
we should not be keeping this debate secret. Congress has a right to 
oversee such agreements, and we should have a public dialogue about 
these types of decisions.
  This administration has, as I am pointing out, a history of 
concealment and in some cases of distorting and actually not telling us 
the truth about what is going on with these negotiations and agreements 
that are happening behind closed doors.
  Once Congress and the public found out about the agreement in the 
totalization agreement, a fire storm broke out not just about giving 
illegals Social Security but about keeping it secret from Congress. 
Yes, as I said, Congress, as well as America's seniors, have every 
right to know if the President of the United States is in the process 
of signing an agreement to give Social Security benefits to illegal 
immigrants. It is something we should discuss. It is not something 
where the

[[Page H1069]]

President should try to make an agreement behind closed doors. In this 
case the administration is undermining the public's right to know and 
the Congress is being left in the dark.
  And please remember, the danger from this agreement is not past. Due 
to the public outrage, it has been put on the back burner, but the 
President at any time can submit this agreement to Congress even if he 
has not detailed it for us now so we can discuss it.
  What I am describing is a pattern of arrogance and contempt, and that 
is especially true not just with Social Security but with broader 
issues relating to illegal immigration and on issues dealing with 
  The tragic case of wrongly imprisoned Border Patrol agents Ignacio 
Ramos and Jose Compean exemplifies the worst aspects of this 
administration's attitude problem, and will forever leave a black mark 
on this administration.
  President Bush has himself made decisions that directly led to the 
ongoing tragedy which sees these two Border Patrol agents languishing 
in solitary confinement; and that's where they are today, in solitary 
confinement, being treated worse than we treat the terrorists in 
Guantanamo. That is where we are now. That is what they have had to 
endure in that solitary confinement for over a year.
  Now, this is clearly a questionable case, but President Bush has 
deliberately dug in his heels to protect his good friend and young 
protege, the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Rather than 
entertain the probability that a terrible injustice was in progress and 
instruct the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security 
to cooperate so Congress could get to the bottom of this nightmare, 
this President has thumbed his nose at the congressional concerns and 
initiated a policy of obstruction and denial in terms of Ramos and 
  Since the Ramos and Compean case was brought to my attention in 
September 2006, I have written over a dozen letters to this 
administration requesting various documents regarding the harsh 
prosecution of Ramos and Compean. I have been joined by several other 
Members of Congress in this effort, including Congressmen Poe, 
Culberson, and McCaul. These three Members of Congress, in fact, 
attended a briefing on Ramos and Compean's prosecution by the 
Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's Office on September 
26, 2006.
  In that briefing, serious questions were raised by these three 
Members about the fundamental justification for this prosecution to 
begin with. The President and his lap-dog prosecutors would like us to 
believe that they have no discretion, but these Members of Congress who 
have long histories in the law and in prosecution, they know. They 
could see there was something wrong because we know that the actual 
charges being brought against Ramos and Compean, and they were fully 
aware of this because these Members of Congress, as I said, have a big 
background in law, they knew that what charges were being brought were 
totally at the discretion of the prosecutors. The prosecution's hands 
were not tied.
  What were the grounds for charging these men with crimes like 
attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, the unlawful discharge 
of a firearm during a crime of violence, and a Federal civil rights 
violation? These charges that could have put Ramos and Compean in 
prison for 10-20 years were totally at the discretion of the 
prosecution. Did this fit the crime? If there was any crime at all that 
was committed, why would they be charged with this overwhelming attack 
by the prosecution knowing that by making these charges these men are 
going to end up being put away for one or two decades of their life.

  These two Border Patrol agents had wounded a fleeing illegal alien 
drug smuggler who was escaping after assaulting one of the officers who 
had intercepted the drug dealer during an attempt to bring $1 million 
worth of drugs into this country. Although they were never intended by 
Congress to be applied in this way, the gun laws which were applied by 
the prosecution, the gun law of mandatory prison sentence, was applied 
to the law enforcement officers in this case, and these law enforcement 
officers had made a split-second decision to discharge their weapons. 
Is that right? Isn't there some question about that, considering they 
threw the book at these guys?
  The prosecutors knew that it was not the intent of Congress that they 
should be charging law enforcement officers with split-second decisions 
in the discharge of a weapon; but they threw the book at the agents, 
including the charges that required tens of years of mandatory 
imprisonment. Again, it was at their discretion that they made these 
  When Congressmen Poe, Culberson, and McCaul asked why the most 
serious charges that could be leveled at the Border Patrol agents were 
initiated by the prosecutors, and why the prosecutors took the word of 
the drug dealer that he had no weapon rather than the word of the law 
enforcement officers, the DHS officials, briefing these Congressmen, 
assured them that this was a legitimate and righteous prosecution. 
These were, according to the DHS briefing given to these Members of 
Congress, these were rogue cops. Ramos and Compean were rogue cops, and 
the Congressmen were told they actually confessed that they knew that 
the drug smuggler was unarmed and that the agents didn't really feel 
  And the biggest lie of all, the Department of Homeland Security 
briefer insisted that Ramos and Compean had told fellow officers the 
day of the incident that they ``wanted to shoot a Mexican'' that day. 
That charge raised eyebrows considering that the accused, Ignacio Ramos 
and Jose Compean, are themselves Mexican Americans married to Mexican 
American wives with Mexican American children. Sure, they just go out 
and intentionally shoot some Mexicans that day. Sure.
  This is what Members of Congress were told in an official briefing. 
Asking for proof, the three Congressmen who were being briefed were 
told that the charges were documented in the reports of the 
investigative officers. The Department of Homeland Security briefer 
promised to provide this proof that Ramos and Compean had actually 
intended that day to go out and ``kill a Mexican.'' Of course, the 
proof never came.
  The Congressmen kept asking. Calls weren't returned. The Department 
of Homeland Security stalled for 5 months. Members asked for copies of 
the completed report of investigation which should have backed up the 
alleged facts that were told to Members during the September 26 
briefing to the Members of Congress.
  Months passed, and nothing more. Just months passed. Nothing from the 
Department of Homeland Security. Several letters and public pressure 
arose, and the Department of Homeland Security finally released a 
redacted version of the official report of investigation in February 
2007. And surprise, surprise, the alleged confession of Ramos and 
Compean was nowhere to be found in that document. The documentation of 
the charge that they had brazenly proclaimed their intent to kill a 
Mexican was not there. But that charge was repeated over and over 
  How could this be? How could the Department of Homeland Security 
officials, how could they assure Members this was a solid prosecution 
and that evidence existed that Ramos and Compean were guilty and they 
wanted to shoot a Mexican? These were flat out lies told to Members of 
Congress who were being officially briefed by this administration.
  During a Department of Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on 
February 6, 2007, DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner was questioned 
by Congressman Culberson about this issue. Under oath Skinner 
acknowledged the information given to the Texas Congressman was in fact 
false, but he smugly justified his blatant and willful lying by calling 
it ``mischaracterization unfortunately repeated at the briefing.''

                              {time}  1745

  No, Mr. Skinner, it was a lie, no matter how colorful the euphemism.
  Ollie North was prosecuted on a charge far less egregious than what 
we're talking about now. Ollie North gave, or so it was alleged, 
misinformation to congressional staffers who were not part of an 
official briefing of Members of Congress; yet, he was prosecuted.

[[Page H1070]]

  This administration ends up lying in a briefing to Congress and 
shrugs it off. To this day, absolutely nothing has been done about this 
crime. And yes, lying to Congress, especially about an issue of this 
magnitude, is a crime.
  Administration officials deliberately misled Members of Congress in 
order to discourage them from pursuing the Ramos and Compean case, and 
no one has been held accountable for this crime. The Ramos and Compean 
case has stunk since day one. The President, instead of looking into 
the matter, which he should have done, has dug in his heels, permitting 
his appointees to slander these two agents.
  Even worse, the President has personally made decisions that have 
resulted in these two agents languishing in solitary confinement. They 
are in solitary confinement because of decisions made directly by the 
President of the United States. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton publicly 
labeled Ramos and Compean as corrupt; yet, again, when asked for some 
sort of justification on this, what corruption charges were brought 
against these people, there were no charges of corruption.
  To say that this is a mean-spirited and vindictive prosecution is to 
put it mildly. This case demonstrates why hearings are an integral part 
of the check-and-balance system created by our Founding Fathers. It is 
in this venue that the executive branch is held accountable for their 
actions. Under oath, it was only when an administration official was 
under oath that the lies about Ramos and Compean were admitted. But 
this administration has decided to thumb its nose at that obligation 
and has decided not to make its case under oath at a public hearing 
and, instead, has actually said things, as I say, calling Ramos and 
Compean corrupt in radio interviews and such.
  Chairman William Delahunt graciously approved my request to hold 
hearings on the Ramos and Compean case. In doing so, an official 
subcommittee investigation into the case in preparation for the hearing 
was authorized. During the course of this investigation, the resistance 
from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and State was 
consistent with the arrogance and obfuscation that flows through this 
administration from the top down. Our hearing had to be postponed for 
months because of the administration's refusal to provide documents or 
to send the necessary witnesses to testify before the subcommittee, 
citing that the committee did not have proper jurisdiction; therefore, 
the U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, the Department of Homeland Security 
Inspector General Skinner, or any of his other investigators need not 
appear. That decision was clearly made by the White House.
  Our Government provided a flawed immunity agreement, free health 
care, unconditional border crossing cards to an illegal alien criminal 
drug smuggler in exchange for his testimony that sent Border Patrol 
Agents Ramos and Compean to prison.
  Our Government kept secrets from the jury that the drug dealer 
intercepted by Ramos and Compean had hauled another shipment of drugs 
across the border, this, while on a Government-issued border crossing 
  Clearly, this is well within the jurisdiction of an oversight 
investigative committee responsible for overseeing relations with other 
countries, including Mexico, and including international drug 
smuggling. Clearly, the public has a right to know about these things.
  This administration apparently believes there is no obligation to 
answer questions in public and under oath about the actions or policies 
of the administration. And in preparation for that hearing, we made a 
request, and request after request, countless phone calls, and even a 
freedom of information lawsuit by a watchdog group, Judicial Watch, and 
the administration still refuses to release copies of the border 
crossing cards that were issued to the drug smuggler in this case. Of 
course, they are claiming, when we make this request about these cards 
issued to the drug smuggler that permitted him to freely go across the 
border, they say that the drug smuggler is protected under, get this, 
``the privacy act.'' This is what the Justice Department tells us.
  I was instructed by the Justice Department to obtain a privacy waiver 
in order that that information be released, a privacy waiver for an 
illegal alien criminal. This is absurd and just another example of the 
condescending and dismissive attitude. This type of obstructionism, 
however, is the rule, not the exception, of this administration.
  By the way, due to a bureaucratic fluke, the border crossing cards, 
we actually got a hold of them, and this is how we have learned that 
this person that was involved with the Ramos and Compean event actually 
took a second shipment of drugs.
  I submit for the Record the letters and copies of these exchanges 
with the administration.

                                    Congress of the United States,

                                     House of Representatives,

                               Washington, DC, September 12, 2006.
     Attorney General Alberto Gonzales,
     Department of Justice,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Attorney General Gonzales: We are writing to you as 
     members of Congress with deep concern over the Justice 
     Department's wrongheaded prosecution of two U.S. Border 
     Patrol agents who were simply doing their jobs to protect our 
       Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should have 
     been commended by our government for their actions last year 
     in attempting to apprehend a Mexican drug smuggler who 
     brought 743 pounds of marijuana across our border. But 
     because of an incomprehensible prosecution by the U.S. 
     Attorney's Office--including granting full immunity to the 
     smuggler so he could testify against our agents--these men 
     may soon receive 20-year prison sentences for firing shots at 
     the fleeing smuggler, who they believed carried a gun. The 
     smuggler--who received complete medical care at William 
     Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas--is now suing 
     the Border Patrol for $5 million for violating his civil 
       The Justice Department's unjust prosecution does nothing 
     but tie the hands of our Border Patrol and prevent them from 
     securing America against a flood of illegal immigrants, 
     drugs, counterfeit goods and quite possibly, terrorists. This 
     demoralizing prosecution puts the rights of illegal alien 
     drug smugglers ahead of our homeland security and undermines 
     the critical mission of better enforcing our immigration 
     laws. The convictions against these agents demand oversight.
       Due to significant concerns over the circumstances 
     surrounding the prosecution of Agents Ramos and Compean, the 
     House Judiciary Committee has already recognized the need for 
     a thorough review of this case by calling for Congressional 
     hearings and an investigation of the Department of Homeland 
     Security, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Customs and 
     Border Patrol and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
       Mr. Gonzales, we strongly urge the Department of Justice to 
     postpone the sentencing of Agents Ramos and Compean, and to 
     reopen their case for a fuller investigation of the facts.
         Walter B. Jones, Tom Tancredo, Ted Poe, Charlie Norwood, 
           Ernest Istook, Dana Rohrabacher, Sue Myrick, Virginia 
           Foxx, John Duncan, Barbara Cubin, Jim Ryun, Virgil 
           Goode, Ginny Brown-Waite, Gary G. Miller, Kenny 
           Marchant, Ed Whitfield, Ed Rover, Dan Burton, Robin 
           Hayes, Henry Brown, John Campbell, Michael Bilirakis, 
           Members of Congress.

                                            Department of Justice,

                                Office of Legislative Affairs,

                                Washington, DC, February 16, 2007.
     Hon. Henry A. Waxman,
     Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House 
         of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Waxman: This letter responds to concerns 
     expressed in the January 9, 2006, Minority Staff Report, 
     ``Sandy Berger's Theft of Classified Documents: Unanswered 
     Questions'' (``the Report''). The Report alleges failures in 
     the Department's handling of the Berger investigation. We 
     have reviewed the Report and respectfully disagree with its 
     characterization of the Department's investigation.
       The Department's investigation began when we were first 
     advised of Berger's actions by the National Archives and 
     Records Administration Inspector General (IG) on October 15, 
     2003, almost two weeks after Archives staff and agents of the 
     IG had begun their own investigation of the incident. The 
     Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 
     devoted significant resources to the task, including 
     prosecutors and FBI Special Agents trained in the 
     investigation of national security cases. The FBI conducted 
     over 50 interviews, made inspections of the Archives 
     facilities, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, in 
     addition to other law enforcement efforts. We examined Mr. 
     Berger's conduct during all four of his visits to the 
       The Report suggests that the Department did not inquire 
     about Mr. Berger's first two visits to the Archives, citing 
     the IG's recollection that the Department had informed the IG 
     in April 2004 that the Department had not questioned Mr. 
     Berger about his May 2002 and July 2003 visits. This 
     suggestion appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the 
     sequence of the Department's investigation. As of April 2004, 
     the Department had

[[Page H1071]]

     not yet asked Mr. Berger any questions, as he had not yet 
     agreed to an interview. When the Department did subsequently 
     interview Mr. Berger, the Department questioned him regarding 
     all of his visits. Furthermore, the Department questioned 
     every witness with knowledge of Mr. Berger's visits about all 
     of his visits. Neither Mr. Berger nor any other witness 
     provided the Department with evidence that Mr. Berger had 
     taken any documents beyond the five referenced in the plea 
       In this, as in all criminal investigations, the 
     Department's obligation was to gather the available 
     testimonial and documentary evidence and then rigorously put 
     that evidence to the test--often pitting the memory of 
     witnesses against the written record supplied by the 
     documents--in order to determine as accurate a picture as 
     possible of what transpired. In this case, as in others, some 
     of the initial allegations did not withstand further 
       For example, the Report suggests that the Department did 
     not give sufficient weight to the accounts of Mr. Berger's 
     activities provided by Archives staff, most notably the e-
     mail sent on September 2, 2003, from Official A to Senior 
     Official 1. In this e-mail, Official A described an encounter 
     with Mr. Berger that day in which he saw Mr. Berger 
     ``fiddling with something white which looked to be a piece of 
     paper or multiple pieces of paper'' down by his ankle. The 
     Department was fully aware of this e-mail, and knew that 
     Berger had in fact removed his notes and a document on the 
     visit of September 2, 2003. The e-mail was a significant 
     piece of information that the Department appropriately 
       The account described in the e-mail was evaluated in 
     conjunction with Official A's interview with the IG's agents 
     on October 15, 2003, conducted before the Department was 
     involved in the case. The recording and transcript of the 
     interview with the IG's Agents were reviewed in full in the 
     course of our investigation. According to the IG's recorded 
     interview, Official A repeatedly stated that the interaction 
     was ``very quick'' and he could not be certain what he saw. 
     Further, Official A told the IG's Agents, ``I could not, um, 
     you know, swear that what I saw was documents, but it 
     certainly unnerved me enough.'' Later, Official A was asked 
     by the IG's agents how he was feeling and he responded, 
     ``very unsettled. I mean, it's, it's unsettled but at the 
     same time I mean, not, not unsettled in the way that I'm a 
     hundred percent sure of what I've seen and, and I'm sick, 
     just like, did I see what, what I, you know possibly could . 
     . . There was a certain grey area in my mind and whether this 
     was actually a document, a piece of paper.''
       When Official A was interviewed later by the FBI on October 
     17, 2003, he once again expressed uncertainty about what he 
     saw, diminishing further the probative value of his e-mail. 
     The e-mail, and Official A's interviews with the IG's agents 
     and the FBI, had to be further weighed against the evidence 
     that after the e-mail was sent and after Official A discussed 
     with Senior Official 1 what he saw, Senior Official 1 
     contacted a supervisor, but the Archives staff did not 
     confront Mr. Berger, did not search him, and did not contact 
     any security or law enforcement officials. In light of these 
     additional facts, the Report's suggestion that the Department 
     somehow failed to consider the full import of the e-mail and 
     related information is unfounded.
       The Department's analysis of the other documentary and 
     testimonial evidence in this case was similarly thorough. And 
     at the conclusion of its extensive investigation, the 
     Department secured a guilty plea from Mr. Berger, pursuant to 
     which he admitted to ``conceal[ing] and remov[ing]'' five 
     copies of classified documents from the Archives, concealing 
     them at his office, and ``cut[ting] three of the documents 
     into small pieces and discard[ing] them''--all in violation 
     of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1924. April 1, 2005 Factual Basis for Plea 
     at 2. The Department stands by its investigation and believes 
     that this resolution was the best one possible in light of 
     the available evidence,
       The Report also suggests that, as a result of Mr. Berger's 
     conduct, the 9-11 Commission may have been deprived of the 
     information necessary to render its final report. The 
     Department, however, has no evidence indicating that this 
     suggestion is accurate. In the course of its investigation, 
     the Department interviewed numerous witnesses who might have 
     had knowledge of any missing items. None of these witnesses, 
     however, provided the Department with evidence that Mr. 
     Berger's conduct deprived the 9-11 Commission of information 
     or documents. Nor has the IG ever advised us--either at the 
     time of our investigation or at any time since--of any 
     evidence that Mr. Berger had taken any documents other than 
     the five referenced in the plea agreement.
       Thus, not the Department, the FBI, or the Archives IG has 
     found any evidence that Mr. Berger took any documents other 
     than the five referenced in the plea agreement. The 
     Department's public statements made after Mr. Berger's April 
     1, 2005, guilty plea reflected the results of its extensive 
     investigation into this matter, and were based solely on the 
     evidence gathered in that investigation and contained in the 
     detailed factual statement--the contents of which Mr. Berger 
     admitted as a condition of his plea agreement.
       Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mr. Berger must 
     cooperate with the Archives IG and make himself available for 
     any cooperation with the government. Indeed, on July 8, 2005, 
     after the plea and prior to sentencing, the IG, along with 
     Department attorneys and FBI agents, also questioned Mr. 
     Berger. At this meeting, Mr. Berger was again questioned 
     about all of his visits to the Archives, including those that 
     occurred in May 2002 and July 2003. Again, Mr. Berger's 
     answers in this session were evaluated and compared to his 
     previous answers and the vast amount of evidence collected in 
     the investigation.
       In light of Mr. Berger's disclosures during an extensive 
     interview in March 2005 and his acceptance, as part of his 
     guilty plea, of a detailed factual basis for the charges 
     against him, the judgment of the Department and the FBI was 
     not to administer a polygraph examination to Mr. Berger. The 
     Department is aware of no new facts regarding the law 
     enforcement aspects of this investigation to suggest that it 
     should revisit that judgment.
       In closing, I would like to emphasize that the Department's 
     silence with respect to certain other factual assertions and 
     conclusions in the Report should not be mistaken for 
     agreement. Indeed, to cite but one additional example, the 
     Department disagrees with both the manner in which certain of 
     its employees were interviewed and the manner in which their 
     statements to Committee staff were presented in the Report. 
     We nevertheless hope that this letter provides you assurance 
     that the Department takes investigations regarding the 
     mishandling of classified information and documents very 
     seriously, and vigorously investigates and prosecutes those 
     who endanger our national security. We appreciate your 
     attention to this matter.
                                               Richard A. Heating,
                                Acting Assistant Attorney General.

  This is plea after plea from Members of Congress, I might add that 
even a majority of Members of Congress have voted for and supported on 
both sides of the aisle. Chairman Delahunt of our Investigative 
Subcommittee knows that there's something wrong with this case. As I 
say, it stinks and has stunk from the beginning.
  We have asked for the President to intervene on behalf of Ramos and 
Compean personally, either by pardoning or commuting their sentences. 
These requests have been ignored over and over again. And last year, I 
personally reached out to the President to take the pressure and 
confrontation out of this issue. I suggested that the President direct 
the Department of Justice to request that Ramos and Compean be 
permitted to remain free on bond pending their appeal. Even common 
criminals in our society are able to stay out pending appeal of a 
  And what was the response? The White House released a press release 
the next day, it was issued the very next day, proclaiming that the 
administration opposes letting Ramos and Compean out pending appeal and 
that no special consideration would be granted to anyone.
  Now, that's a lot of holier than thou rhetoric, okay? So no special 
consideration was going to be given to anyone, much less these two 
Border Patrol agents. Now, that sounds righteous, a position of not 
making any exceptions, except, of course, for the fact that a short 
time later, White House Aide Scooter Libby had his sentence commuted by 
the President in a heartbeat.
  For the record, I found out, and let me just note, I believe that 
commuting Scooter Libby's sentence was justified. But it's totally 
inconsistent with what we had been told of why Ramos and Compean 
couldn't even be considered to let them out, even waiting, pending 
  Yeah, Scooter Libby got a raw deal. But the fact is that what's 
happening, what we see is only members of the President's personal 
clique get such consideration. It's clear, that's evident, and it's 
  It is truly with a heavy heart, Madam Speaker, that I stand here 
reciting example after example of the maliciousness and condescending 
attitude exhibited by this administration. It is a problem that's 
flowing from the top.
  When I hear my friends on the other side of the aisle accusing this 
administration of stonewalling, of coverups, or thwarting 
investigations, I sadly must concur with them. Even though I may 
disagree with what the policy issue of the day is, I have to agree that 
Congress is not being treated with respect and that the President is 
engaged in obfuscating and in stonewalling of rightful requests by this 
  This White House exemplifies needless hostility, turf jealousy, and 
obstructionism. The American people should know it and should know that 
these charges come not from a partisan

[[Page H1072]]

Democrat, but from a lifelong conservative Republican. I have worked in 
the White House. I worked for 7 years as a special assistant to 
President Ronald Reagan.
  Ronald Reagan, as much as people can disagree or agree with the 
policies that he espoused, was a person who never acted arrogantly 
towards others. He never, when he was giving State of the Union 
messages, never used the word ``must,'' never made demands. And I think 
that President Reagan would not feel comfortable with the type of 
attitude that is exemplified in this administration. He, instead, 
wanted to reach out to people and cooperate.
  This administration seems to want to just bulldoze whoever gets in 
their way and does not have the human concern for other people, 
especially for people like Ramos and Compean, the little guys, that we 
saw in Ronald Reagan, which made him so popular and successful.
  I would ask that the rest of my remarks be put into the Record. Thank 
you very much for permitting me this hour.
  And to the American people, I say, carefully consider who our leaders 
are going to be and carefully consider the issue of the day. We have a 
wonderful democratic society. There's a balance of power here set up by 
our Founding Fathers. And it's important, whether you're Republican or 
Democrat, that we maintain this balance of an authority, the 
legislative, executive, and judicial in this country, and we should not 
be setting precedents that the President of the United States has the 
lion's share of the power in this great democracy of ours. The power is 
rested in these three branches and in the people themselves.