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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oversight to return to Iraq

Congressional Democrats announced today that they will press new legislation next week to restore the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, as well as expanding it's investigative powers. That federal agency, responsible for ferreting out waste and corruption in Iraq, was set to be terminated under a Republican-backed provision that was slipped into a huge military authorization bill.

The bills, to be introduced on Monday morning, mark the first of what are likely to be dozens of Democratic efforts to resurrect investigations of war profiteering and financial fraud in government contracting. The agency’s findings have consistently undermined Bush administration claims of widespread success in the reconstruction of Iraq. “The unilateral decision made by House Republicans to shut down this critical office should be reversed immediately,” said incoming majority leader Harry Reid.

Oversight, the power wielded by Congressional committees to demand information, internal documents, and subpoena executive branch officials to hearings when necessary, is reverberating through Congress as a Democratic battle cry.

Carl Levin, in line to become the new chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that while seeking a new strategy for Iraq would be his first and primary focus, he would also look carefully at military contracting. “There have been serious allegations and evidence of misconduct among suppliers,” said Levin. “And the taxpayers, of course, get socked on that. And the troops are not properly taken care of when that happens.”

Democrats will indeed press ahead with Congressional oversight, particularly on Iraq. But the imperative to investigate financial misdeeds extends beyond the military. The House government reform committee under Rep.Henry A. Waxman(CA)may also investigate spending related to domestic security and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

And the Appropriations Committee, likely to be led by Rep. David R. Obey(WI) is to more closely review spending such as large supplementary requests for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senator John D. Rockefeller IV(WV), the new chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a critic of the C.I.A.’s secret detention program and the National Security Agency’s domestic wiretapping program. Mr. Rockefeller may push the administration to obtain more information about secret programs. The committee, like many others, has often degenerated into partisan rancor over the past two years, and Mr. Rockefeller, like other incoming chairmen, has told colleagues that one of his priorities is to restore the committee’s historic bipartisanship.

And last although most certaintly not least, the Appropriations Committee will apply pressure to curtail earmarks, or pork, if you will. Heavy intense pressure we hope. Earmarks, spending measures for specific projects not sought by a federal agency but sponsored by a lawmaker, have been responsible for much of the coruption and scandal in Congress.

Overall, there's little downside for the Democrats in going after waste and fraud in government contracting, particularly in Iraq. The corruption there has not only been unpopular with the American public, but has also been the scene where corporate giants like Halliburton, Parsons and Bechtel have committed their highly publicized missteps in the rebuilding of the country.

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Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

I see this as being a good thing as well...

There has been a lot of stories about waste, fraud, and theft and they need to be investigated...

I am deeply disappointed in how The Republicans have handled this issue.

This is an issue The Dems should pursue in an intelligent manner...

Mike Sylvester

title="comment permalink">November 12, 2006 9:34 PM  

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