"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Usually, hearings on Capitol Hill are decorous and, not infrequently, boring. Not this one before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Everyone in the room tensed as Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., glared at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "Mr. Secretary," he said, "this war has been seriously and grossly mismanaged." He called it a "quagmire." He said, "Our troops are dying, and there is no end in sight."
He then listed mistakes he said Rumsfeld had made — insisting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, sending in too few troops, sending soldiers to urban warfare without proper armor and equipment, expecting occupying soldiers to be greeted with flowers as liberators, having no plan to stop the looting and disbanding Iraq's army and police forces instead of using them.
"Isn't it time for you to resign?" Kennedy asked.
The furious defense secretary willed himself not to explode. He had offered his resignation to President Bush, who refused to accept it, Rumsfeld said levelly....
When Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, got the microphone, he praised the troops serving in Iraq, but said he is "very worried" that the United States is "overstressing our Guard and reservists," some of whom are going back to Iraq for a second and third time. He said he worries about recruiting shortfalls and retention. He said there are ongoing firefights over areas in Iraq that were already fought for and cleared as foreign insurgents pour across the borders into Iraq.
McCain, who thinks withdrawal would be disastrous for Iraq and the United States, also said he is frustrated with the Bush administration's reluctance to tell the American people basic details about Iraq, such as what percentage of the 170,000 Iraqis trained to fight are actually combat-ready.
Rumsfeld said that was classified....
At one point, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said he couldn't take it any more. He said Americans have a right to know what's happening in Iraq because they're paying for the war with the lives of their young men and women and billions of tax dollars.
Looking at Rumsfeld, Byrd accused him of sneering. "I don't mean to be discourteous, but I've heard enough of your smart answers. Get off your high horse when you come up here. I have to run for re-election and you don't. We represent the American people and they are asking questions. They haven't been told the truth. The administration says we're unpatriotic if we ask questions, but that's our job."
And what a nice surprise it is, seeing members of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body doing their job for a change. Let's see if they can make a habit of it, before another 1750 American's die in pursuit of the accidental President's great white whale.