When It Comes to War, Congress Is on Permanent Vacation
Posted on Apr 25, 2010
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.
U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez