Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today wrote the following letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refused to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow. The Secretary cited the all-members briefing he will be providing in closed session to the Senate as the most his busy schedule can allow. Senator Reid urged that the Defense Secretary testify in public before the Armed Services Committee, and asked that if necessary the Republican Leader cancel the all-members briefing to give him the time he needs to do so.
The text of the letter is below.
August 2, 2006
The Honorable Bill Frist, M.D.
United States Senate
S-230, The Capitol
I understand that Secretary Rumsfeld has refused to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow morning, reportedly announcing that he needs the time to prepare for the closed-door all-members briefing later in the day.
As you may know, Secretary Rumsfeld has not testified before the Armed Services Committee since February, despite on-going and increasingly violent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and mounting tensions in the Middle East and with North Korea and Iran. Since his previous appearance it has also been disclosed that Army readiness levels are at lows not seen since Vietnam, with not a single non-deployed Army combat brigade prepared to meet its war time mission.
Given the growing challenges to our national security and our military’s readiness crisis, I think it is essential that Senators and the American people have an opportunity to hear Secretary Rumsfeld testify in public tomorrow morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. If Secretary Rumsfeld’s schedule can only accommodate one meeting with the U.S. Congress tomorrow, I hope you will agree with me that it should be a public session rather than something behind closed doors.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you agree so we can jointly inform Secretary Rumsfeld that we want to cancel the closed session in favor of an open hearing with the Armed Services Committee.