The effort to scuttle Chris Hill's appointment as Ambassador to Iraq has been spearheaded by Senator Sam Brownback, who claims that Chris Hill lied to him, and by extension the United States Senate, in hearings last summer on the course of the Six Party talks. On Friday Brownback, along with Senator Jon Kyl, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton seeking further information. They state that their questions about "whether Ambassador Hill misled the Senate," addressed directly to the President in a separate letter sent two weeks ago, have not been answered. The letter says that "Ambassador Hill's answers to similar questions in his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee further obscured rather than illuminated this issue."
While the senators say that they well recognize the President "privilege" to select his own envoys, they insist that their "constitutionally mandated role of advising and consenting to nominations" requires them "to judge the qualifications of ambassadorial candidates on several levels, not least their past record of dealing with our own branch of government." At which point the senators remind Clinton of her own status as a member of the Senate fraternity -- they have "no doubt" that Clinton shares their concerns about "the obligation of any confirmed officer of the United States to be entirely truthful in his dealings with Congress."
To that end, the senators request that Clinton "search not only the records of the Department of State, but also the records of the Department of Defense and the agency records system of the National Security Council." As I noted here late last week, Hill is likely to be confirmed shortly after Congress returns from its recess. Brownback's aim here is to try and force the review of documents that will further tarnish Hill's record. It's a fishing expedition. Brownback may be able to hold up the nomination until these documents are produced and reviewed, and if there is some new, damning evidence that emerges -- Brownback may yet put a stop to Hill's nomination. I wouldn't bet on it, but Hill's position is tenuous.
The full letter, with its detailed requests, is available in pdf here.