Skip to comments.Lawmakers Fume on Canceled N. Korea Trip
Posted on 10/31/2003 3:16:57 PM PST by Indy Pendance
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ten lawmakers whose trip to North Korea was canceled by the White House have sent a scathing letter to President Bush, complaining of the "arrogant and disrespectful" treatment from his national security advisers.
The five Republicans and five Democrats said they were offended "and believe you are being ill-served by your National Security Council staff." A copy of the 5 1/2-page letter, dated Thursday, was obtained by The Associated Press.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
The letter adds to growing tensions between lawmakers and the White House on foreign policy issues. Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly complained that the White House has been arrogant in its handling of the Iraq issue, failing to provide information sought by lawmakers or heed the concerns they've raised.
The 10 lawmakers had hoped to leave last weekend on a rare official trip to North Korea. They expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and visit the nuclear compound at Yongbyon, the source of spent fuel rods that could be used to make nuclear bombs.
But the leader of the delegation, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., issued a statement Sunday saying that the White House withdrew its support for the trip. A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it considered the trip inappropriate at a time that Bush was making progress in working with other nations to stop North Korea's nuclear program.
The lawmakers' letter said they don't believe a president has ever prohibited congressional travel, except to an active war zone.
"It is extremely ironic that in this case you canceled military transport of a bipartisan delegation that is in total and complete support of your state foreign policy agenda in North Korea," they said.
Weldon had contacted the White House within an hour of receiving the North Korean invitation on Oct. 13, the letter said. But it wasn't until Oct. 23, two days before the trip, that White House chief of staff Andrew Card called Weldon to say the administration was pulling its support for the trip. No one in the National Security Council staff had called before to express concerns about the trip, the lawmakers said.
The letter said there had also been problems related to a congressional delegation Weldon led to North Korea in May. Citing an unidentified military officer, it said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice had called the Defense Department at one point to say the trip had been canceled. The Pentagon did not tell them the mission could leave until one day before the scheduled departure.
The letter said the National Security Council had "irresponsibly fabricated, with malicious intent, a rumor" that the May delegation had passed a 30-page document to North Korean officials, presenting it as "some type of sinister leak of information."
The document was actually a 48-page report on U.S.-Russians relation available on the Internet, the letter said.
The lawmakers asked Bush or Card to meet with them to discuss the trip.
You run the show.
I love this President, Mr Bush.
President Bush is doing just fine without your self serving medling at tax payers expense.
Reminds people of Burlington, VT.
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