Waxman chides State Dept. over incomplete answers

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) Monday said the State Department’s incomplete response to his questions necessitates that Secretary Condoleezza Rice testify before the panel.

Waxman had asked the State Department to address issues including: the claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger; the administration’s treatment of classified information; and the appointment of Richard Jones as special coordinator for Iraq.

The lawmaker grew impatient with the department after it failed to respond to previous inquires. Last month, he sent Rice a letter asking her to testify before the committee on April 18.

In response, the department sent a letter on April 3 containing answers to some of the questions.

However, Waxman responded Monday that the State Department neither answered his panel’s questions sufficiently nor provided requested documents and information.

“Rather than address any of [the committee’s] questions, [Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Jeffrey Bergner] forwarded copies of two old State Department letters that have no bearing whatsoever on your knowledge of, your role in, or your statements about the Niger claim,” Waxman said in the letter to Rice.

The lawmaker added that the State Department letter also was lacking on other questions.

“As I hope you can understand, because of inadequacies of Mr. Bergner’s response, the Committee will not withdraw the invitation for you to testify on April 18, 2007,” Waxman stated.