KARL ROVE -- (House of Representatives - June 27, 2005)
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, last week the Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the United States, Karl Rove, a man who began as a political operator, and was rewarded for his political successes by being named to a very high position in the administration--indeed, he is clearly as influential in shaping the policies of the Bush Administration as anyone other than the President himself--made a speech which was harsh, as is his right, but which was thoroughly dishonest, which again is his right under the first amendment to the Constitution, but ought not to be a right which high officials of the Federal Government avail themselves of so freely.
Mr. Rove lied. The speech consists of a number of conscious, deliberate lies, particular ones and general ones. Here is what he said in his effort to further the deep polarization of this country from which he believes his side will benefit if he is able to shape the way in which it is perceived. ``The most important difference between conservatives and liberals can be found in the area of national security. Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.''
Mr. Speaker, that is a lie. It is a lie consisting of a number of lies. I am a liberal, Mr. Speaker. And along with many, many other liberals in this Chamber, my response to the savage murders of Americans on 9/11 has no resemblance to the political dishonesty that Karl Rove put forward.
I voted for war in Afghanistan. No one who serves here votes for war easily. No one who has the responsibility of defending the country can be cavalier about sending the young men and women of our country off to battle, to kill and be killed. But the vote to go to war in Afghanistan, to authorize the President, in effect, to go to war, to take whatever measures were necessary, and we knew when we did that that we were talking about going after the regime in Afghanistan which was sheltering that murderer, Osama bin Laden, that vote was virtually unanimous. There was one ``no'' vote here. There were no ``no'' votes in the other body.
There are a lot of liberals here, Mr. Speaker. And virtually unanimously we voted to go to war in Afghanistan. Yet Mr. Rove would lie to the American people and characterize that decision to go to war in defense of the country as indictments and therapy and understanding.
Shortly after that, on the Judiciary Committee on which I then served, we spent a couple of weeks dealing with what should be done to increase the law enforcement powers of this country. And we voted out a bill by a unanimous vote of 36 to 0. There are a number of liberals on that committee: Myself, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Waters), the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott), the most determined defender of civil liberties I have ever served with, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Watt), the chairman on our side, the ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the gentlemen from New York (Mr. Nadler).
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of Members deeply committed to liberalism. And we voted unanimously for a bill that enhanced law enforcement powers. It was not therapy. It was not understanding. It was enhanced law enforcement powers. Now, it is true that many of us subsequently voted against a very different bill that came to the floor.
But the version we reported out of our committee was the one of which the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), boasted a while ago about his bipartisanship, because it provided significantly enhanced law enforcement powers.
Sadly the Republican leadership then decided to kill that bill, and with no debate, no chance to read it, substitute a very different bill that many of us opposed on procedural as well as substantive grounds.
But the fact is that the liberals on the Judiciary Committee unanimously supported increased law enforcement powers. So the notion that we were offering only therapy, that lie, is of course refuted by the fact that we voted go to war. We voted for enhanced law enforcement powers.
But then comes the biggest lie of all. What Mr. Rove appears to be trying to do is to perpetuate one of the most damaging acts of dishonesty we have seen from a President of the United States, the argument that part of the reason for invading Iraq was to defend ourselves against 9/11. That is, of course, what is implicit in Mr. Rove's speech. He would put together the attack of 9/11, and what we did in Iraq.
But, the fact is now very clear, the Iraqi regime, despicable as it was, was not involved in the murders of 9/11. The war in Iraq was not based on an effort to deal with 9/11. That was the war in Afghanistan, which we supported.
So what you have from Mr. Rove, I would say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, is a couple of specific lies in pursuit of a very big one, a big one that tries to get America to forget how dishonestly this administration argued for the war in Iraq.