Saturday, August 02, 2003

Discussion: Congressional Committee Records
Discussion: Unified Front Crumbling?

I was able to catch part of the hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with Paul Wolfowitz regarding reources for the reconstruction of Iraq. Although there is some sentiment against Real, I would highly recommend viewing the Senators' questioning of Wolfowitz and others in the C-span video. These discussions are not on the Senate Foreign Relations website because they are not scripted, yet I found them very informative and interesting. Note that the questioning starts at 1:16:00 if you watch the video clip.

One very common them was evident from the questioning. Both Republican and Democratic Senators were very concerned that Congress and the American people are not being informed of the sacrifice needed for reconstruction of Iraq. The senators were very upset that there was not even a request for a conservative estimate of reconstruction costs in the 2004 budget which are likely to be substantial. In addition to financial sacrifice, there were complaints that the duration of stay of our troops and the sacrifice of American soldiers are not being adequately explained. It seems the senators are very concerned about losing the support of the American public over time, and this could prove disastrous for an effort that we must be tied into for the long haul. This was some of the most intense grilling of these individuals (especially Wolfowitz) that I have seen to date and suggests to me that Congress has been left largely out of the loop in the Iraq process.

I thought you guys might also be particularly interested in the comments of two senators. The first is from D-Chris Dodd from Connecticut. He pointed out that the outlined chain of command for Iraq proceeds from the President to the Sec of Def to Bremer. Notably absent, he pointed out, was the Sec of State. I found this partcularly interesting in light of Joe's comments of the Bush/neo-con attacks on Powell. It seems that the Sec of State has been left out of the command and decision making structure for Iraq with the exception of an advisory role to the President on the NSC. Dodd was quite concerned because the military is essentially running the show, and they are not likely the best qualified to address issues that would be better handled by the State Dept. While this may be a more efficient command structure, it leaves out the expertise of the State Dept. I also wonder if it isn't due to the likelihood of Powell stepping down after Bush's current term.

The second comes from our beloved Russ Feingold. Wolfowitz claimed in his statement that "In fact, the battle to secure the peace in Iraq is now the central battle in the global war on terror". Feingold was very concerned that we are being misled and that American resources are not effectively being used in the "war on terrorism". Given the questionable links between Iraq and terrorist organizations, Feingold argued that our efforts should be focused heavily on areas such as Afghanistan and eastern Africa where the majority of the terrorists are.

Very interesting stuff... there are definitely some pissed off Senators out there.

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