Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Good News or Cheesy Campaign Trick?

This is good news. I think.

From the NYT:
The Senate voted on Tuesday to press the Bush administration to provide more public information about the course of the war in Iraq as lawmakers of both parties made it clear they wanted chief responsibility for securing the country shifted to the Iraqi government within the next year.

Lawmakers voted 79 to 19 for a Republican plan to seek new quarterly reports on matters like the number of Iraqi troops ready to take the lead in combat operations. The proposal expressed the Senate view that "2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty."

On one hand, this seems to signal that the Senate "gets it" when it comes to the majority of Americans' opinion of the administration's handling of the war in Iraq. The Senate also appears to understand that American's are tired of the job Mister Bush is doing, and it wants Congress to step up to the plate and execute its Constitutional duties.

But don't get too excited just yet. As the NYT article points out…
…the practical consequences of the bipartisan vote on the Republican proposal may be limited and largely symbolic.

The president, through his officers in the Pentagon, is already required to make quarterly reports to Congress on the war by the War Powers Act of 1973. We may wind up getting nothing more than we've had in the past: Rummy gets grouchy and berates the armed services committees while his generals shrug and mumble.


I'm willing to give Congress the benefit of the doubt for the time being, but it needs to keep up the momentum and drive the executive branch back into its Constitutional box. It must pass the interrogation limits bill, and it must not exclude the CIA from constraints on the treatment of prisoners. If Mister Bush vetoes the bill, Congress must override it.

Congress must force the administration's hand on the Guantanamo situation. Holding prisoners there without granting them POW status or a right to trial is a bill of attainer, something specifically prohibited by the Constitution.

Most importantly, Congress must repeal the Patriotic Act, which not only enables bills of attainer, but expressly violates the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments of the Constitution. (The Patriot Act is itself unconstitutional. Congress doesn't have the constitutional power to pass laws that allow a president to violate the Constitution.)

I hope the current issues being debated in the Senate wake the good people of South Carolina up to just what an administration patsy their Lindsey Graham has become.

Graham wrote the legislation that blocks Guantanamo prisoners from access to the courts, and yesterday he voted against the Senate bill to hold Mister Bush to account for the Iraq war.


So I'll be very happy if this Senate bill on the war signals the beginning of Congress taking its powers back from the executive office and doing its job. But I'm waiting to see if it's just a campaign strategem to get everybody back in office in 2006 so they can go back to sleep.

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