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Ear to the Ground

When It Comes to War, Congress Is on Permanent Vacation

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Posted on Apr 25, 2010
U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez

Judging by the lack of interest, involvement and oversight, it’s difficult not to conclude that Congress has largely taken a not-my-problem approach to America’s wars.

Sure, lawmakers will hold the occasional hearing and file their sound bites in the record, but more troops and more funding are always available to the president who wants them.

This is especially vexing, as Stephen R. Weissman points out in Roll Call, because “it is widely accepted that past administrations, acting without Congressional input, made huge mistakes in America’s last two major wars.”

Weissman reports that this head-in-the-sand behavior persists even when obvious questions present themselves, as with Afghanistan and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry’s leaked wires.  —PZS

Stephen Weissman in Roll Call:

According to several officials, key Congressional foreign policy committees have neither received nor requested a National Intelligence Estimate or comparable broad intelligence community analysis of the issues in Afghanistan. They have denied themselves a major resource of Congress in foreign policy: the ability to compare intelligence analysis with administration policy judgments. In Iraq, the Senate at least requested and received an NIE; its mistake was in failing to examine the document and reveal its flaws.

Learning little from its failures to expose administration divisions over Vietnam and Iraq, Congress has fumbled a golden opportunity to assess the U.S. Embassy in Kabul’s last-minute dissent from the developing Dec. 1 decision for a U.S. military “surge.” When news leaked of two November cables from Ambassador Karl Eikenberry “expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan,” one key foreign policy committee requested the classified documents. The State Department refused to provide them, and the committee never considered using its subpoena power, according to an informed source. Eikenberry subsequently testified that after “refinement” and “clarification” he was now “100 percent supportive” of the president’s strategy. No Congressman from either party pressed him to describe the basis of his reported reservations or how they were resolved.

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By Marshall K, April 27, 2010 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

No it’s OK because it’s Obama, he’s the kinder,
gentler, progressive warmonger.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, April 26, 2010 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A democratic imperial presidency is different from a republican imperial presidency.  Democratic torture is different from republican torture.  Democratic civilian massacres are different from republican civilian massacres.  A democratic shredding of the bill of rights is different from a republican shredding of the bill of rights.  Habeas corpus, what habeas corpus?  We don’t need it ‘cause there’s a democrat in the white house.  A democratic patriot act is different from a republican patriot act.  A $1 trillion democratic defense budget is different from a $1 trillion republican defense budget.

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By samosamo, April 26, 2010 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

Just what one would expect when the military becomes another
branch in the government all bought and paid for by the
corporate monster that has overthrown and commandeered our
country. So I think I can safely assume that the branches of this
new government consists of, in descending order:

Financial
Military
Industrial/Corporate
Mainstream Media
Religious
Supreme Court
Congressional
Executive

And to ensure the integrity of these new branches the people are
relegated to a position of ‘you can watch but you cannot
participate or effect the workings of the new government’.

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By Vic Anderson, April 26, 2010 at 7:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AD HOC: (Another Demiserepubilkan Heap Of Corp.) on the US Constitution and
US, its constituents! Come November, 2010 and 12, Take NO incumbents!!

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By NYCartist, April 26, 2010 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

And complete abandonment to the control by/ of the Administration, for Dems.

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By NYCartist, April 26, 2010 at 4:35 am Link to this comment

Hiding, not vacation, so they don’t have to “take responsibility”.  They are there for votes on funding the wars and Pentagon budget, please note.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, April 26, 2010 at 3:47 am Link to this comment

For the Democratic wing of the ownership class, war is no longer a problem, now that Obama has become the President.

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