Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Senate Interferes With War Effort

Reacting to polls indicating waning support for war in an election year, the Senate passed a resolution that would require an unclassified status report on the war every 90-days. Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the resolution "a vote of no-confidence", something the terrorists will be delighted to hear. (Washington Post: Senate Presses for Concrete Steps Toward Drawdown of Troops in Iraq).

There are two aspects of this measure that are most disturbing. The first is that it calls for unclassified reports. Clearly and constitutionally, the Senate has oversight authority and does have the right to request detailed progress reports when the nation is at war. Stipulating that those reports be unclassified, however, not only limits the scope of the information that will be at the Senate's disposal, but it also politicises the progress reports by making them public and open for political bashing during the 2006 campaign.

That is most likely the reason for the unclassified nature. Since unclassified war reports will serve no oversight purpose, one may only conclude that they are intended to provide Senators on both sides of the aisle with campaign fodder. Even conservative Republican Senators are seeking ways to distance themselves from the war for political gain. (Washington Post: Tide Turning in GOP Senators' War View).

The other problem I have with the resolution is that it calls for a timetable for withdrawal, and even has the audacity to stipulate 2006 as the period for full Iraqi sovereignty. Any type of publicly acknowledged timetable for withdrawal is a weapon in the hands of the insurgents. There is only one public position that is acceptable and that position is that we will remain in Iraq until the insurgency is crushed. Anything else sets the Iraqi government up for failure.

Other aspects of the measure reflect a hodge-podge of public flash points that appear also to be tossed in more for political purposes than anything else. There's the obligatory McCain provisions that detail how detainees are to be treated, despite international treaties already ratified by the Senate that cover that topic. There's the incursion into Executive Branch authority over unlawful combatants that would allow them appeals into US courts following any military tribunals. Under both US law and international treaty, the judicial branch has no authority over unlawful combatants.

This measure looks to be in for a tough time when the House and Senate meet in committee to hammer out the final version of the bill that will find its way to the President's desk. It may be that the more outrageous portions of the measure are stripped before the President gets the bill, however from a political perspective the campaign fodder has already been prepared. Following a 98-0 vote in the Senate, the path has been cleared for any Senator facing reelection to take whatever stance on Iraq the polls in his district suggest is the most popular. Sadly, this bill had nothing to do with Senate oversight into the war in Iraq. It had everything to do with election year politics, and the politicians were most certainly served in the US Senate.



Alan Fraser said...

It hasn't been more than, oh, twenty minutes since the last lie about Iraq was revealed. In recent days, the military has said it has only used white phosphorus for illumination of battlefields. Today, the statement was reversed when the military said that it had been using white phosphorus against combatants. Whether it's legal or not is irrelevant. It's just one more in a pattern of lies.

Kannafoot said...

The military is under no obligation to tell anyone publicly what weapons they are or are not using on the battlefield. In fact, anytime they are queried in that regard, I would hope they WOULD lie about it. Remember, the enemy reads the same information we do. This is a war, not a boy scout jamboree. There should be an expectation that anything the military (or any other government agency) says publicly about the war is misinformation directed at the enemy. If you want to know the truth, wait for the memoirs 20 years from now.

Kathy said...

A quick note to let you know that I linked to you. Thanks!