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Bush Is Withholding War Information, Daschle Says

TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Bush has not been forthcoming about progress in the war on terrorism or about a “secret government” operating since Sept. 11, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said Sunday.

As a result, lawmakers are finding it difficult to carry out their constitutional duties of approving money for the war and providing oversight of the executive branch, he said.

“None of us knew about the secret government,” Daschle said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the cadre of senior bureaucrats sent on a rotating basis to two undisclosed locations to ensure continuity of government if a terrorist strike hits Washington.

That, he said, is a “profound illustration of the chasm that exists sometimes with information. . . . It’s an illustration of the need for a better communications process.”

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Daschle also said that Congress had not been sufficiently briefed on expansion of the war on terrorism. U.S. troops are already in the Philippines to train local anti-terror forces and may soon go to Yemen and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Congress needs “to better understand what our purpose is, how long will we be there, how many troops will be there, how does it affect our efforts in Afghanistan,” he said.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, agreed that “the administration could, at this point, do a better job of involving members of Congress in some of the discussions about where the war is going.”

The senators’ comments brought a quick rebuke from Republicans, who said they broke a tradition of keeping a unified front while troops are in harm’s way.

“Any sign that we are losing that unity, or crack in that support, will be, I think, used against us overseas,” Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”


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