The House Should Defeat H.R. 895. Maybe the Senate Will Represent the People?
The House resolution that will be debated tomorrow may be accompanied by blunt words in the floor debate, but its language is the language of indecision and purposelessness. It doesn’t name the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, so it isn’t directed at them. It is a half-measure in a time when Americans in the military are asked to give their full measure. I don’t think I could vote for it.
Tomorrow’s vote is instead a choice on what the House might have said and what it did say. And what it proposes to say is a half measure. It should be defeated, and the leadership should bring forward a resolution that let’s its “yes” be “yes” and its “no” be “no.” Congressman Oxley has, in my opinion, fundametally misunderstood the stakes. Perhaps he willrealize his error and withdraw his ill-worded resolution.
You can register your opinion with the Speaker and Majority Leader Boehner via the number 202-224-3121.
Perhaps the United States Senate will represent the people, and not compromise with elite opinion and the comforts of the Beltway. Here’s part of my conversation with Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Pat Roberts today:
HH: And Chairman Roberts, I want to go back, then, to the question. In your opinion, knowing what you know now, did the release of Monday’s story, just the SWIFT program, assist terrorists in eluding capture?
PR: Oh, I don’t think there’s any question.
HH: All right. Now I want to quote to you [LAT Washington bureau chief Doyle] McManus saying…on your oversight: “We went to Congress to figure out what it was, he said, and it turned out that, a few members had been briefed, and that the Intelligence Committee as a whole hadn’t been briefed until after Treasury began to believe the story was likely to come out. So if the question of briefing Congress goes to important issues of oversight, the oversight, I think any fair-minded person would say, that there was a minimal form of oversight. It wasn’t complete oversight.”
Was he wrong?
PR: Well, I would say he’s wrong. I’ve been briefed, and I know other members of the Intelligence Committee have been briefed, staff has been briefed, leadership has been briefed.
So the New YorkTimes and the Los Angeles Times were “wrong.” And wrong on an issue of life or death for future victims of terror, wrong on an issue on which the president and the vice president have been very clear. Wrong on a defining issue for the country: Should these two newspapers pass without rebuke for the damage they did?
Some staff on the papers are denying they did harm, and other MSMers are rallying to their argument, like Tom Brokaw. Still others are hiding from hard questions.
They will be encouraged by the House resolution, with its refusal to close with the central issue of accountability. These two papers were asked by the officials charged with the public’s safety not to publish the stories they published. They published them anyway. This is a debate over that behavior. The House resolution refuses to engage the debate, and it should be defeated.
The question before the Congress, the one on which the House –inexplicably, and to the shame of the GOP majority there, has apparently punted– is did the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times injure the war effort by assisting terrorists in avoiding capture?
All the rest is posturing.
The resolutions in both House and Senate are being brought forward because of the stories from Friday.
Not referencing the stories is clearly understood by observors to be an acknowledgment that these papers are privileged in a way soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are not: They get to make mistakes, and not be called to account.
If the House and Senate don’t call them to account, and with specificity, these papers and others will repeat their behaviors.
I just don’t see how a civilian could vote for a non-specific resolution and look a military man or woman –or the family of one of the fallen– in the eye and say: “We spoke for you. We voted a non-specific resolution of condemnation of various behaviors that might hurt the war effort and lead to the escape of terrorists from justice.”
What a horrible joke. What an insult to the military. What a terrible insult to the fallen.
The House should defeat Resolution 895, and its serious members demand a real rebuke to the scribblers who endanger the effort.
And the United States Senate should not commit a similar error.
The House resolution does not mention any news organization by name, a decision that resulted from closed-door GOP discussions in which some urged colleagues not to overdo media-bashing.
I wish I had a tape of that session. Who urged such an absurd and harmful indecision? Chris Shays? It is not “media-bashing” to condemn the release of information that assists terrorists in eluding capture. By refusing specificity, the resolution in fact descends to “media-bashing.” This is what passes for reason in the GOP caucus? If so, the caucus needs new leadership.
Here’s my Townhall column on the Times Two, “Some of My Best Friends Are Journalists.”
HH: Did you have a reaction, Governor, having just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan recently, on the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times publishing the classified stories that they did Friday last?
MR: You know, I find it inexplicable and inexcusable. You recognize that we are at war, and that publishing the intelligence capabilities and processes and procedures of our intelligence community is something which puts us in a jeopardized position, it puts us in peril, and it’s inexcusable. And I just find it just extraordinary, and I can’t imagine what kind of outcry there would be, had the same thing occurred during the Second World War.
I hope the House majority figures out clarity by the day’s end, and that the Senate starts there.
Justice Kennedy’s concurrance in Hamdan closes with this pointed instruction to the Congress:
In light of the conclusion that the military commissions at issue are unauthorized Congress may choose to provide further guidance in this area. Congress,not the Court, is the branch in the better position to undertake the “sensitive task of establishing a principle notinconsistent with the national interest or international justice.” Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U. S. 398, 428 (1964).
There are four votes on SCOTUS for expansive presidential power in this war, but when it comes to trying terrorists, Justice Kennedy wants the Congress to announce specifically what procedures govern.
I disagree with his assessment, but if Congress will simply get serious about the war, neither is today’s decision a disaster. No one is leaving Gitmo, and the SCOTUS continues to dodge any serious interference with the war, though narrowly.