House GOP Thwarts Dem Plame Inquiries

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House Republicans derailed Democratic attempts on Wednesday to force the Bush administration to surrender documents on prewar intelligence and the disclosure of the identity of a CIA (search) operative.

Democrats have introduced several "resolutions of inquiry" to compel President Bush and members of his Cabinet to release all information relating to communications with British officials before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the Valerie Plame (search) case.

The White House has taken heat since the disclosure this year of the "Downing Street memos," (search) British documents that suggest the Bush administration had made up its mind by 2002 to invade Iraq. Administration officials also have been interviewed by a special prosecutor in his quest to determine who leaked Plame's covert identity to reporters.

Largely along party lines, the House International Relations Committee unfavorably reported two of the resolutions on Iraq and one resolution on the Plame matter. Earlier, the House Judiciary Committee "unfavorably" reported a similar Plame resolution.

Under House rules, the committees had to act on the resolutions within 14 legislative days of the resolutions' introduction. If not, sponsors could have forced the measures before the full House for a vote.

But the votes Wednesday against the measures all but prevented them from ever being taken up by the House.

Other Democratic-sponsored resolutions on both matters are in different committees. Those resolutions will be considered in the next few weeks; the outcome is expected to be the same.

Republican leaders want to avoid the spectacle of either issue being debated on the House floor amid some fear that the measures could succeed if enough Republicans side with minority Democrats.