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Like A Hole In The Head

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A new panel formed by Congress will second-guess Iraq War strategy and reconstruction. It will be chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton, and will include former CIA Director Robert Gates; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican; former Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan; former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta; former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry; former Democratic Sen. Chuck Robb; and Alan Simpson, a Republican former senator from Wyoming.

This is a terrible move, this establishment of a body that will by its very nature be second guessing an army in the field and under fire during a time of intense partisan debate. Voters rendered a verdict on Iraq in 2004 elections. They can modify that verdict in 2006 if they choose. The idea of civilians gathering to second guess the military and its strategy and the president and his leadership reminds of the country’s experience with the Commmittee on Reconstruction’s adventures from the post-Civil War era, the Church Committee’s wonderful effects on intelligence gathering, and most recently the antics of Bob Kerrey and Richard ben Veniste on the 9/11 Commission.

These proceedings inevitably become show trials, and the new concentration of media will guarantee such a debacle unfolding quickly, with Bush’s enemies in the MSM using every opportunity to bend every witness and every report into a political weapon.

I don’t care who the staff is –and the staff hasn’t been named, which is a very bad sign– this is a disaster for those who are serious about the war. It is a boon for the Feingolds and KosKids and every other member of the retreat and defeat caucus.

How did this come to pass? Which Republican Committee agreed to this? Where was the leadership?

Mark this day. This Commission will be a circus, and Rudy won’t be able to stop it from happening, or any of the other Republicans.

Here’s the Institute for Peace web page on the new group, and here is the background on the “participating organizations.”

Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, a very good man who has been indispensible on bringing attention and some comfort to the victims in Sudan, is nevertheless incredibly wrong to have endorsed this project. The experience with such bodies, especially the 9/11 Commission, warns us that all that lies ahead is Bush bashing and demands for retreat in a war from which no retreat is possible that does not end in disaster for the U.S.

If the “Study Group” is not going to be a tool of partisan politics, it needs to announce –on day one– that it will hold no public hearings and release no interim reports nor any reports at all that do not obtain unanimous or at least supermajority support.

But the presence of some hard core Democratic partisans guarantees such assurances will not be forthcoming.


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