Republicans Fail on Security and Accountability

Recent news clearly illustrated the ways in which the current Republican Leadership has failed to enhance our national security and is undermining our chances for success in Iraq.

Leading Congressional Republicans have long been eager to support President Bush's claim that Iraq had an active nuclear program prior to 2003. Today we learned that they pushed for a federal website to publish recovered documents from the Hussein regime. Some of those documents, available world-wide until their recent removal, may have contained sensitive technical information that could have served as a primer for the construction of a nuclear weapon.

For years, Republicans have attacked reporters for writing about national security programs, saying that our national security was being undermined and even going so far as to accuse them of treason. But where is their outrage now?

Also today, the New York Times reported on a provision in the recently signed Defense Authorization bill which my Democratic colleagues and I spoke out against when the bill was up for a vote. The provision will eliminate the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction by October of 2007.

Stuart Bowen, the head of that agency, currently supervises 55 auditors and inspectors in Iraq, and has issued approximately 300 reports since the war began. Mr. Bowen's office has exposed the waste, fraud, and abuse making this war more costly and more dangerous both for our troops and for Iraqi civilians. Among Mr. Bowen's most important findings have been that Iraq is losing $4 billion a year to corruption and that hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars have been thrown at reconstruction projects which have gone nowhere.

Top Republicans willfully refuse to recognize what the American people have long understood: that accountability in Iraq is critical if we want to protect our troops and give them and the Iraqi people a chance to succeed. (I and my fellow Democrats have been calling for a modern-day Truman Commission since May of 2005).

Despite this simple fact, Republicans leaders have steadfastly refused to provide any form of accountability in Iraq. Instead, they have decided to arbitrarily terminate Mr. Bowen's organization.

At home and abroad, oversight is not a priority for this Republican Congress. It cares far more about backing the President than it does about asking tough questions. It's the wrong way to govern if you really care about our troops - or the security of the nation they protect.

It is long past time for Congress to stand up for what is right, instead of simply standing with the President, even when he is wrong. Recent history would indicate that only a new set of leaders in Washington will be able to bring about such a necessary change.