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FROM THE EDITOR
Investigating Congress
JR Dieckmann

The only investigation needed, but will never see the light of day, is an investigation into the motives and agenda of the 110th Congress.

Who is this 110th Congress to criticize anyone? They do nothing but order investigations of everyone and everything as though they were the Justice Department. They criticize the Iraqi government for not meeting their arbitrary benchmarks. Now they criticize the DHS on the same grounds, not meeting their expectations of progress. Isn’t it time that some benchmarks were set for the 110th Congress to meet?

I don’t have to tell you what those benchmarks should be. We’ve all been demanding them of our government for over a year. Secure the borders, fix the immigration problem, deport illegal aliens, let the Defense Department run the war, stop the wasteful spending on pork, reform the corrupted election process, fix Social Security, and so on and so on. These are just some of the benchmarks that should be set for Congress to meet.

These criticisms and investigations by Congress have become laughable, coming from this no confidence Congress with an RCP poll average of a mere 22% approval rating. Gallup has them at 18% approval with a 76% disapproval rating. Over two thirds of Americans polled give this Congress failing grades, so why should we listen to them when they criticize anything and everything connected with the Bush Administration? Isn't it time Congress started doing the job of Congress instead of spending all of their time investigating and criticizing others? This is merely a case of the pot calling the kettle black and Congress trying to divert attention away from their own failures.

In mid July, the Bush Administration submitted an interim progress report to Congress as requested by congressional Democrats as a condition for supplemental war funding. Of the 18 benchmarks, 10 were listed as "satisfactory", 7 were listed as "unsatisfactory", and one was undecided. CNN’s Dana Bash described the report as showing “a complete failure pretty much across the board”, which of course, it was not.

Some in Congress criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Malaki as being incompetent and a failure. Malaki's response said essentially: We are a sovereign nation and a parliament doing the best we can under difficult circumstances. If you don't like it then leave. “No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," Malaki said. “…"We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere."

Truer words were never spoken. If we don't give Iraq the help it needs to secure the country, and the time it needs to resolve political issues, Iran and Syria certainly will. Then we will have a trilateral, terrorist supporting coalition to face in the not too distant future, instead of a pro-American ally in the heart of the Middle East.

Congress is now playing their benchmark game again with the Homeland Security Department, the huge, overgrown and overblown bureaucracy they themselves created. At least the Republicans in Congress should have recognized the fallacy of creating such a huge bureaucracy and the unlikelihood of it ever working efficiently. But in the aftermath of 911, this behemoth was thrown together and everyone voted for it because it contained some useful and necessary national security changes.

Some aspects of Homeland Security were good policy; some were not. For example, requiring all intelligence agency department heads to report to a central command meant sharing of intelligence and allowing DHS to connect the dots from various agencies would enhance security for the nation.

They should have stopped there but instead Congress chose to continue to expand the bureaucracy with other agencies, like absorbing the Dept. of Agriculture and FEMA into DHS. Bad idea. We saw the results of that during the Katrina disaster when FEMA Director, Michael Brown, was unable to acquire resources on the ground he requested because of bureaucratic red tape and unconcerned DHS middlemen failing to respond to his requests. Brown was made the scapegoat by Congress when in fact it was their failing by placing FEMA under DHS in the first place.

Don’t ever expect anyone in Congress to take responsibility for this colossal blunder, or any others they have committed. No, instead they now feel it is their duty to order an investigation of DHS by the General Accounting Office, the investigating arm of Congress, to see if DHS has met benchmarks set by Congress. Of course they haven’t, and never will.

GAO Comptroller General David Walker offered a mixed picture in testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: "There were 171 different performance expectations of which we judged that 78 were generally achieved, 83 generally not achieved, and 10 that we did not assess."

But Homeland Security Department Undersecretary for Management Paul Schneider defended his agency's record and took issue with the way the GAO study was conducted, saying: "While we were pleased that the GAO recognized our progress, the department continues to believe that they used a flawed methodology in preparing its report, which resulted in many of the assessments not fully reflecting the department's progress.”

What is with this 110th Congress? Can’t they do anything useful, like maybe produce some legislation that would help the country? That is, after all, their primary job at which they have failed miserably. It would seem that all they are really interested in doing is investigating departments within the Administration and promoting failure in Iraq. Speaking candidly, I guess that’s what we expected from the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. But shouldn’t we expect more from those we elect to represent us? Isn’t it time that we start demanding a recall of the current congressional leadership on the basis of blatant incompetence?

Some in Congress are saying the Iraqis “don't even want us there.” There is no consensus on this in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq doesn't want us there. Sunni insurgents don't want us there. Radical Shi'ite terrorists aligned with Iran don't want us there. But the majority of peaceful Iraqis who are depending on us to keep them safe from terrorists do want us there as well as the Iraqi government who can ask us to leave at any time. Those in Congress who promote the enemy’s view are only aligning themselves with the enemy, and in a time of war, that is treason.

Are we going to make the same mistake with Iran that we made in Iraq when military action becomes unavoidable? Pin point bombing of strategic targets only contributes to making a nation feel safe from war. They believe our compassion for innocent civilians and liberal, anti-Bush criticisms will protect them from harm so the population has no reason to fear an attack and no reason to pressure their government to surrender it‘s nuclear program.

Some "experts" are saying that 80% of the Iranian people support the U.S. and oppose the Khomeni/Ahmadinejad regime. I find that very hard to believe. If that were the case then how did this regime acquire power in Iran and how do they keep it? If opposed by 80% of the population, the regime would have been overthrown by now. If Iranians feared for their lives as a result of an attack by the west, perhaps they would be more encouraged to do something about their government‘s agenda.

Let us not forget how the Khomeni Regime and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came into power in the first place. The Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was an American ally, was considered an oppressor by his people. In 1978, Iranians rose up and seized the American embassy in Tehran and overthrew the Pahlavi government, installing the Ayatollah Khomeni in his place. This set the stage for the election, fair or not, of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iraq.

Of course, Iran is a divided country just as Iraq is. Some in Iran would prefer a secular western culture while others want to continue with Islamic Sharia law enforced by their government. There are no accurate polls in Iran that would show anything other than complete support for the current dictatorship. No one can really say what percent of the Iranian population actually would support the removal of the current government. We just can’t count on it when it comes to war. They threw us out 28 years ago. Much of the Iranian population has been born since then and doesn’t remember why, or what life was like under the Shah. Many still do and have raised their children with the same beliefs.

The Pentagon has now drawn up plans, not for “pin prick” attacks, but for large-scale air strikes against 1200 targets in Iran to annihilate the Iranians' military capability in three days. In my column on June 3rd I wrote: “We must attack Iran with everything we have. It should not be a limited attack on the nuclear installations alone, but an all out attack to destroy not only those installations but the Iranian military, theocracy and entire government of Iran. It all has to go at once and without any warning that would give the ruling hierarchy time to hide themselves in safe locations.” I’m glad to see some in the Pentagon agree.

Negotiations and sanctions regarding Iran’s nuclear program are going nowhere and are unlikely to produce any results. Iran is self sustaining, unlike No. Korea which depends on other nations for it’s existence. And unlike No. Korea, there is little we can offer, or threaten with, to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.

The question is now, will Congress authorize military action against Iran, or will it instead choose to launch an investigation into the Department of Defense?