Friday, February 18, 2005

Rumsfeld can't even pretend to care anymore

it was a bad day for Congressional oversight yesterday. As The Washington post (which for fans also has an awesome picture of Rummy Displaying his tiger-style technique) so succinctly said:

With the Bush administration asking Congress this month to write checks for half a trillion dollars for the Pentagon, you might think the secretary of defense would set an accommodating posture on Capitol Hill. But, to paraphrase Rumsfeld's remark in December about the Army, you go to budget hearings with the defense secretary you have, not the defense secretary you might want or wish to have at a later time. And Donald Rumsfeld doesn't do accommodating very well.


Apparently bored of their rude attempts to actually get information from him; Donny essentially pimp-slapped the entire Senate armed services committee, and walked out of their hearing about halfway through.
Two dozen members of the House Armed Services Committee had not yet had their turn to question Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld at yesterday's hearings when he decided he had had enough. At 12:54, he announced that at 1 p.m. he would be taking a break and then going to another hearing in the Senate. "We're going to have to get out and get lunch and get over there," he said. When the questioning continued for four more minutes, Rumsfeld picked up his briefcase and began to pack up his papers.


Has this ever happened before? The Sec Def simply walks out of a budget hearing, without so much as a please and Thank you?

Committee Chairman are generally considered jealous and angry gods that you do well not to offend, if you are an administration supplicant at budget time; but that's for normal people, not Teflon Don. Apparently He believes that between taking down Colin Powell (and hijacking the state dept.) and W's re-election; he's now personally "up-armored" enough to be bullet proof.

Say this at least for Rummy, his disdain for the people's representatives, who pay his salary, was at least bipartisan and across the board. He seemed to spend the whole hearing thinking of interesting and fun ways to refuse to give a single drop of actual information to anyonne.

Here are some of the Lowlights of the session:
Did he care to voice an opinion on efforts by U.S. pilots to seek damages from their imprisonment in Iraq?

"I don't."

Could he comment on what basing agreements he might seek in Iraq?

"I can't."

How about the widely publicized cuts to programs for veterans?

"I'm not familiar with the cuts you're referring to."

How long will the war last?

"There's never been a war that was predictable as to length, casualty or cost in the history of mankind."

After a while his main tactics became clear

Claim ignorance (whether believable or not):

When Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) mentioned an estimate of the costs for increases in troops' death benefits and life insurance, Rumsfeld said: "I've never heard that number."

Pass the buck (even though he IS the Sec Def):

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) then complained about long-term Army expenses being included in an emergency spending package. Rumsfeld said the matter "really is beyond my pay grade." When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) observed that there are few positions beyond Rumsfeld's pay grade, Rumsfeld retorted: "Senator, I thought Congress was Article 1 of the Constitution." _________________

Claim you know the answer, but its a secret

in his opening statement he implicitly chided Congress for "an increasingly casual regard for the protection of classified documents and information."
When the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton (Mo.), asked about the number of insurgents in Iraq, the secretary said, "I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." (He presumably meant to say "intelligence.") Ultimately, Rumsfeld admitted he had estimates at his fingertips. "I've got two in front of me," he said.
"Could you share those with us?" Skelton inquired.
Not just now, Rumsfeld said. "They're classified."


Deny any fact you find troublesome(true or not):
Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-N.C.) pressed Rumsfeld on whether he had talked with an aide who was quoted last month as saying Congress had been too generous in expanding military retirement benefits. "No, I have not, nor have I seen the statement that you've quoted in the context that it might have been included," the defense secretary replied.

The One hope we as democrats have had since Nov. is that when Republicans found themselves holding all the reigns (pun intended) of power was that in their Hubris they would overstep their bounds and come crashing back to earth when they had disgusted enough of the right people. Don's Performance yesterday shows that hope is right on track.


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