Dems Change the Gas and Claim It's a New Car

By David Swanson

Democrats on Capitol Hill see the world through bureaucratic shades and have been circulating this self-congratulatory Email:

“Over the last four years,the Republican Congress failed to conduct oversight on the Iraq war and failed to hold the Administration accountable for the conduct of the war. In contrast to this dismal record, in the last five weeks, the new Democratic-led Congress is already exercising vigorous oversight and demanding accountability from the Administration on the Iraq war. Attached is a list of 52 House and Senate hearings that have already occurred on issues related to the Iraq war. There will be numerous other hearings by both House and Senate committees on issues related to the Iraq war over the next several months.”

Of course, the American public would very much like to see real investigations into the war, especially into the lies that launched it. But that’s not what this list of 52 hearings is about. The vast majority of these hearings are simply ordinary day-to-day business. They’re not investigations of any known or possible crimes or abuses. Most of them are about the future of the war, not its past or how it was begun. Six hearings on military “Readiness” hardly satisfy the public hunger for a hearing on “The Bush-Cheney Fraud.” Four hearings on paying for more war hardly elimate the need to investigate Cheney’s claim that Iraq had nukes and Bush’s warning that we might wake up to a mushroom cloud. A hearing on the reappointment of a General hardly touches the question of why our president made claims about aluminum tubes and uranium purchases and chemical and biological weapons and ties to 9-11 that he had been told were baseless. A hearing on an annual threat assessment seems less valuable when our democracy is threatened with becoming a monarchy, and the war we were lied into four years ago is ongoing.

Dear Congress, almost all of your hearings have been about how to continue the war, not how to investigate it or end it. The exceptions are few and far between. The Senate Intelligence Committee is listed as having held one (closed) hearing. We don’t know what happened there, but we know that none of the abuses of “intelligence” prior to the war were exposed in a closed hearing. Do you consider that a good five-weeks’ work? Do you sense any urgency in the air? DO YOU? Can you prove it?

The House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman’s office has indicated it will simply not bother investigating how this war began, is listed as having held three hearings, two of them open: one on “worldwide threats” (hint: the greatest of these is at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue) and the other on a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, not the N.I.E. that was used to help launch this illegal war but a new one that’s considerably more honest.

Now, the House Judiciary Committee has held a hearing on signing statements, and has talked about investigating Bush’s illegal spying programs, and those worthy efforts are not listed here because they’re not about the war. A couple of moderately useful investigations are listed here: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings on corruption, and a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the plight of Iraqi refugees. But by and large, this lengthy list of fluff and B.S. adds insult to injury for the American people, not to mention the Iraqi people and the rest of the world.

We were lied into a war. For years, Democrats struggled to start an investigation of how that was done. Resolutions of Inquiry picked up bipartisan support and failed by one or two votes in various committees. Now those Resolutions have not been reintroduced. Now we are supposed to be grateful for a “hearing on approaches to audit of reconstruction and support activities.” I’ve got to tell you: I’m not going to be grateful until investigations address the issues listed here:

Of course, if the Democrats were to hold real public hearings, issue their first subpoena, put their first witness under oath, and expose this war on television, self-congratulatory Emails wouldn’t be needed. Staffers would be too busy figuring out what to do with all the flowers and thank you notes. Don’t believe me? Try it. Hold one little hearing on the Bush and Blair meeting at which Bush proposed painting US planes with UN colors and trying to get them shot at in order to begin the war. Subpoena the minutes from that meeting, communications that preceded and followed it, Email exchanges. Subpoena those who were in the room. Subpoena the reporters who were lied to just after the meeting, when Bush and Blair told them they were working hard to avoid war. Give those reporters the opportunity to ask follow-up questions now, in light of these reports:

If that one little hearing doesn’t set our nation on a path toward restoration of democracy, then I’ll apologize and be grateful for 104 hearings on how we can most efficiently kill more people.

The following list is a disgrace:

A List of 52 Hearings Already
Held On Issues Related to Iraq War


Tuesday, January 9th
• Senate Foreign Relations Committee – CLOSED full committee briefing on the situation in Iraq

Wednesday, January 10th
• Senate Foreign Relations Committee – full committee hearing on “Securing America’s Interests in Iraq: The Remaining Options. Where We Are: The Current Situation in Iraq.

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