As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lieberman: "Oversight? Nah, Don't Care."

Yesterday security guards with an Australian-run firm killed two women in Baghdad by opening fire on their car after they failed to pull over. It was another example of the precarious situation in Iraq posed by out-of-control private military contractors who are not under any legal controls. This is outraging the Iraqi population and severely endangering US troops. Fortunately, the Congress, through investigative oversight, is doing something about this.

Wait, I misspoke, I meant HALF the Congress. The House is doing the oversight. In the Senate, those oversight responsibilities go to the chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee. He's a guy named Lieberman.

The day news broke that the Iraqi government was revoking the license of Blackwater USA over a questionable Baghdad shootout that killed 17 civilians, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) announced plans for hearings to probe the State Department’s reliance on private security contractors.

On that same day — Sept. 17 — Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced two firefighting grants for the towns of Bolton and Willington in his home state.

Though the two committees have similar investigative powers and mandates to uncover waste, fraud and abuse of government funds, Waxman has held eight hearings on Iraq and contracting abuses this year, while Lieberman has held only one on reconstruction challenges in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

And though Waxman rarely has missed an opportunity to fire off angry letters to the administration over potential waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct among government contractors, Lieberman — along with his predecessor and current ranking member, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — has shown relatively little interest in tackling those issues.

Subscription is required on the Roll Call article, but Steve Benen has more. Lieberman says that fraud and abuse and corruption make him angry, but spending any time investigating it isn't a priority.

Remind me again why this guy has any seniority at all? He didn't run as a Democrat, he has undermined the caucus on foreign policy issues, and now he is actively operating as a shield for the White House on the Senate's chief investigative committee. This is a man refusing to do his job as Chairman. And contrary to popular belief, he is no longer needed to keep the Senate under Democratic control; the rules under which the 110th Senate were set up do not allow for a party switch.

At a time of massive fraud in Iraq, Lieberman has emasculated the Government Affairs Committee. The Senate has literally no ability to investigate the sins of Blackwater and Halliburton and all the other profit-taking abuses in Iraq under Joementum's "leadership." He should be thrown off the committee immediately, if not sooner. It's disgraceful that this is tolerated by the Senate Democrats.

UPDATE: Yesterday the House passed The War Profiteering Prevention Act by the staggering vote of 375-3. Maybe the bill, which makes war profiteering a felony and confers jurisdiction to US courts, got such overwhelming support because the House has actually HEARD testimony about these abuses, while the Senate has sit on their hands, thanks to Holy Joe.

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