Rep. DeFazio (OR-4) has written a letter to his colleagues asking them
to sign a letter to the Chairs of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs
and Intelligence committees. The letter asks those Chairs to hold
hearings on Iran, and includes a list of suggested questions for witnesses.
The letter also asks that witnesses testify under oath. Ask your
member of Congress to sign this letter.
Here is a copy of the letter sent to members
of Congress, along with the letter they are being asked to sign.
October 12, 2007
Sign Letter Requesting Congressional Oversight of Administration's
Plans for Iran
Dear Democratic Colleague:
We are writing to invite you to sign
a letter to the chairs of the House Committee on Armed Services,
the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence requesting a series of hearings
In the run-up to the war with Iraq, Congress
as an institution, through its committees, failed the American people
by failing to ask tough questions, challenge the administration's
assumptions, and force a public debate. Yet, we're now witnessing
a similar rush to judgment regarding Iran. There are questions
about the reliability of the intelligence related to Iran, both
related to its nuclear program and activities in Iraq. We
see shifting justifications for the possibility of military action.
The administration and its allies present rosy scenarios for the
outcome of military action. And there appears to be no thought
given to what happens after military action is taken or to the likelihood
of an Iranian response.
Our military, in particular, has suffered
from the prior Congress' failure. This Congress must not make
the same grave mistake.
If you would like to sign this letter (attached
and below), please have your staff contact Tom Vinson in the office
of Rep. Peter DeFazio Thank you for your consideration.
PETER DeFAZIO, DENNIS KUCINICH,
October 22, 2007
The Honorable Ike Skelton
House Committee on Armed Services
2120 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Tom Lantos
House Committee of Foreign Affairs
2170 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Silvestre Reyes
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
H-405, U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Skelton, Chairman Lantos, and Chairman
We are alarmed by reports that planning for military
action against Iran is in advanced stages. We are writing to request
that your committees hold a series of hearings soon on developments with
Iran, including the status and substance of the diplomatic track with
Iran, intelligence related to Iran's nuclear program and activities in
Iraq, and preparations for U.S. military action against Iran and the possible
consequences and outcomes of such a step.
We are growing increasingly concerned that the
strategies used by the Bush administration in the march toward war with
Iraq are being replicated in a drive to war with Iran. There are
questions about the reliability of the intelligence related to Iran, both
related to its nuclear program and activities in Iraq. We see shifting
justifications for the possibility of military action. The administration
and its allies present rosy scenarios for the outcome of military action.
And there appears to be no thought given to what happens after military
action is taken or to the likelihood of an Iranian response.
Although there was dissent within Congress to the
administration's push for war in Iraq by ourselves and others, Congress
as an institution, through its committees, failed the American people.
Our military, in particular, has suffered from the prior Congress' failure
to ask tough questions, challenge the administration's assumptions, and
force a public debate. This Congress must not make the same grave
We are requesting that you bring in officials from
the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the Intelligence
Community and put them under oath. We are requesting that you examine
the actual evidence the administration claims to have. We are asking
you to seek out dissenters within the agencies. We are requesting
that you bring in dozens or hundreds of experts from academia, think tanks,
and elsewhere to fully examine the administration's arguments and assumptions,
which do not deserve to be taken at face value. Congress needs to
hear from those in favor of military action, against military action,
in favor of diplomacy, and skeptical of diplomacy. Congress needs
to hear from historians and from those who understand the inner workings
of the Iranian regime. And Congress needs to hear from international
experts and diplomats as well, including individuals in the Middle East.
A few areas that we believe need to be examined
Does the President believe he has the authority
to take military action against Iran without authorization from Congress?
If so, under what authority and in what circumstances?
In 2003, Iran approached the United States offering
to negotiate on a wide variety of long-standing issues important to our
two countries, including Iran's nuclear program, support for terrorists,
relations with Israel, diplomatic relations, and non-proliferation.
The Bush administration rejected this request. Why? Has the
situation gotten better or worse as a result of this decision? Why
has the Bush administration repeatedly rejected proposals for a so-called
"Grand Bargain" with Iran dealing with the nuclear issue, support
for terrorism, non-aggression pacts etc. when that is exactly what the
administration just agreed to with North Korea? A similarly broad
deal was also cut with Libya.
From 2003-2006, Iran and the E.U. (with the tacit
or explicit support of the U.S.) has exchanged a variety of proposals
and counter proposals that explore the possibilities of diplomatic progress
in a variety of areas, including over Iran's nuclear program. What
is the status of these negotiations? Why has little progress appear
to have been made despite the similarities in the negotiating positions
of Iran and the E.U.? Why has the U.S. conditioned our participation
on a suspension of uranium enrichment rather than trying to achieve that
What evidence does the U.S. have that Iran is pursuing
nuclear weapons? What are the sources for this evidence? How
reliable are they? Are there alternative explanations for this evidence?
What estimates exist for how far away Iran is from
developing nuclear weapons, assuming that is in fact what they're doing?
What is the U.S. estimate? What are the estimates from foreign intelligence
Do the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
and foreign intelligence agencies agree with the U.S. analysis on the
Iranian nuclear program? Do they have additional evidence?
How reliable are their sources?
What is the status of Iran's uranium enrichment
program? What is the difference between the expertise needed to
enrich uranium for producing energy versus enrichment for nuclear weapons?
Even with a nuclear weapon, does Iran pose a threat
to the U.S.? Can Iran be deterred? Does Iran have a delivery
system capable of reaching the U.S.?
What are Iran's motives for pursuing nuclear weapons?
Can these motives be addressed in a way that would lead Iran to abandon
What role does the Iranian president play, if any,
in the nuclear program and Iranian defense and foreign affairs policies
more generally? What role does the Revolutionary Guard play?
How about the Supreme Leader? The Council of Guardians? The
Assembly of Experts? The parliament?
What does the interaction and competition between
these branches of the Iranian government mean in terms of diplomacy, the
nuclear program, and possibly military action?
What evidence does the administration have related
to Iranian involvement in Iraq, including the alleged supply of weapons
to groups killing U.S. troops and training of Shia militias? What
are the sources for this evidence? How reliable is it? Are
there alternative explanations?
The administration has claimed that Iran is aiding
Shia and Sunni militias. What is the evidence for this? How
reliable is it? What is the incentive for Shia Iran to aid Sunni
militias trying to overthrow the Shia government in Iraq?
Is there any evidence the Iranian government itself
is involved in the alleged weapons smuggling?
Former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay recently
recalled seeing stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators in Iraq when
he was looking for weapons of mass destruction soon after the U.S. invasion.
Is it possible that the weapons being used against our troops today have
come from the black market and unguarded weapons depots rather than from
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the Washington
Post that Iraqi relations with Iran had "improved to the point that
they are not interfering in our internal affairs." Is that
true? Why does the Iraqi Prime Minister have a different viewpoint
than U.S. military and intelligence officials?
To the extent Iranian officials are involved in
Iraq, are they there at the invitation of the Iraqi government?
What does that mean in terms of U.S. concerns?
What are the implications of military action against
Iran? Could its nuclear program be destroyed, or would Iran merely
accelerate it in response? What would the impact be in Iraq, particularly
for U.S. troops? Would Moktada al-Sadr direct his militia to come
to the aid of the Iranians as he has promised? What about other
Shia militias, would they also rise up against U.S. troops? To the extent
some argue that there is still a chance for U.S. troops to stabilize Iraq,
wouldn't that be obliterated by military action against Iran?
Many experts believe Iran would retaliate against
Israel, as well as in the E.U. and maybe in the U.S. Does Iran have
the capability to do so? What is the likelihood of such attacks?
What is the likely scale of such attacks? Can they be prevented?
The administration is reportedly changing its military
strategy for Iran from one of counterproliferation (i.e. bombing Iran's
nuclear sites) to one of counterterrorism ( i.e. bombing facilities associated
with the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of their alleged involvement
in Iraq). What are the implications of this change? How would
How do the different military services view military
action against Iran? Are the Army and Marines supportive?
What about the Navy and Air Force?
Are there plans to insert ground forces, including
special forces, into Iran?
Has the U.S. already inserted special forces into
Iran in order to work with Iranian opposition groups and survey possible
Given the strain on the U.S. military from the
war in Iraq, does the U.S. even have enough troops for a sustained campaign
The Iranian people are widely believed to be pro-West.
How would the Iranian people respond to an attack on their country?
What are the views of U.S. allies, both in the
region and outside the region, on the wisdom of military action against
Thank you for your consideration of our request
and for your important work on behalf of the American people.