- WASHINGTON -- Oregonians
called Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in
the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government
after a terrorist attack.
- As a member of the U.S. House on the Homeland Security
Committee, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubble-room"
in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House
to see the secret documents.
- On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED
- "I just can't believe they're going to deny a member
of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government
of the United States after a significant terrorist attack," DeFazio
- Homeland Security Committee staffers told his office
that the White House initially approved his request, but it was later quashed.
DeFazio doesn't know who did it or why.
- "We're talking about the continuity of the government
of the United States of America," DeFazio says. "I would think
that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of
the Homeland Security Committee."
- Bush administration spokesman Trey Bohn declined to say
why DeFazio was denied access: "We do not comment through the press
on the process that this access entails. It is important to keep in mind
that much of the information related to the continuity of government is
- Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government
continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he "cannot
think of one good reason" to deny access to a member of Congress who
serves on the Homeland Security Committee.
- "I find it inexplicable and probably reflective
of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from
this White House," Ornstein said.
- This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access
to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie
Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.
- "Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy
out there are right," DeFazio said.