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Madame Secretary Finally Accepts an Invitation

Frankly, I’ve been holding my breath since I first saw this (tentatively) on Selise’s weekly hearing schedule. After all, Waxman has been trying to get Condi Rice to appear before the Oversight Committee since early spring. But they’ve now announced the hearing, so I’m breathing again.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearingentitled, “The State Department and the Iraq War” on Thursday morning,October 25, 2007, in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.

Thehearing will examine unanswered questions regarding the performance ofthe State Department on several significant issues relating to the Iraqwar, including the impact of the activities of Blackwater USA andcorruption within the Iraqi ministries on the prospects of politicalreconciliation in Iraq. The Committee may also discuss with theSecretary allegations of wrongdoing associated with the construction ofthe new U.S. Embassy Compound in Baghdad, as well as other mattersunder investigation by the Committee.

WHO: The Honorable Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State

That said, I imagine Condi’s neatest piece of diplomacy since taking over as Secretary of State was this hearing (granted, the competition isn’t all that stiff). The Crypt reports that Condi will face a wide range of questions.

Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to appear before the House Oversight andGoverment Reform Committee Thursday to answer questions aboutcorruption within the Iraqi government, the possibility of politicalreconciliation in that war-ravaged country and the department’scontroversial security contract with Blackwater USA, according to arelease from the committee.

Oversight Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) has been pressing Riceand other agency officials for months to testify about corruption andthe department’s contract with Blackwater. According to the release,committee members will also be asking about allegations of misconductin the construction of the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad. [my emphasis]

Which is to say, don’t expect Condi to answer any questions about why her NSC put the Niger claims into the 2003 SOTU after having been forced to take it out of a speech three months earlier.

FWIW, I suspect Condi agreed to appear in a desperate attempt to pitch State’s recent attempts to exercise oversight over contractors as real progress. Consider: Congress has the ability to take much of the freedom on contracting out of the hands of State, which would devastate State’s initiatives in Iraq (not to mention the CIA’s). So if Condi wants to avoid ceding all of Iraq to DOD, she needs to convince Congress she has this under control and that her recent changes will work.

Too bad she always comes off so unconvincingly when she testifies before Congress.

Update: More evidence Condi is trying to arrive in front of Waxman to make assurances she has fixed everything at State:

The State Department’s security chief announced his resignation onWednesday in the wake of last month’s deadly Blackwater USA shootingincident in Baghdad and growing questions about the use of privatecontractors in Iraq.

Richard Griffin, the assistant secretary ofstate for diplomatic security, announced his decision to resign at aweekly staff meeting, according to an internal informational e-mailsent to colleagues.

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