WASHINGTON — A Congressional committee subpoenaed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday at the request of U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays.
Shays, R-4, sought the subpoena after the Pentagon refused to answer questions regarding allegations that an Army whistleblower faced retaliation for discussing abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Shays, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, is investigating allegations made by Army Spec. Samuel Provance that his attempts to provide information to investigators about prison abuses were rebuffed and that he then was retaliated against for providing unclassified information to the media.
"The bottom line is it's critical that our oversight inquiries be taken seriously by executive branch departments and that we get timely access to the information we need to do our job," Shays said.
"Today we are demanding that the Department of Defense provide information that is critical to our investigation."
In March, Shays and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the committee, sent a letter to Rumsfeld seeking information related to testimony Provance provided the subcommittee a month earlier.
The letter went unanswered.
Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Va., signed the subpoena on Shay's behalf.
"When the committee requests information from executive branch departments and agencies, we try to be reasonable and accommodate their legitimate concerns about the volume and the sensitivity of what we're asking for," he said. "But if the [Defense] Department won't even return a call, after three months, and begin that dialogue, we really have no choice but to subpoena the material and compel their attention to our request."
Davis, Shays and Waxman are seeking:
? Provance's unredacted testimony; ? All communications relating to the interrogation, treatment or detention at Abu Ghraib of Iraqi General Hamid Zabar, his son and any other relatives;
? Communications relating to any other cases in which family members of detainees or others held at Abu Ghraib were involved in any way in an interrogation;
? All drafts of the report on the investigation of Abu Ghraib; ? All communications relating to information provided by Provance about Abu Ghraib.
The subpoena requires Rumsfeld to produce the documents by July 14.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros said Friday he was unaware of the subpoena.