Friday, January 12, 2007

Republic Takes Another Hit
at Gates Hearing

by Ray McGovern

At Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Robert Gates to be secretary of defense, I felt as though I were paying last respects to the Constitution of the United States. But there was none of the praise customarily given to the deceased. Rather, the bouquets were fulsomely shared round about among the nominee and the senators – all of the "distinguished," but none more distinguished than the Very Reverend John Warner, the gentleman from Virginia, chairman of the committee and presider at the wake.

"Distinguished, indeed," I could not help thinking; this is the committee that allowed itself to be co-opted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputies Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith into abnegating its constitutional duty to prevent the United States from launching a war of aggression on false pretenses against a defenseless Iraq. The Nuremberg Tribunal ruled war of aggression "the supreme international crime inasmuch as it contains the accumulated evils of the whole" – kidnapping and torture, for example. This is the committee which, when such abuses came to light, let the Pentagon investigate itself. And I thought of how our Virginian forefathers, really distinguished Virginians like James Madison and James Mason, who crafted the checks and balances into our Constitution, and how they must be rolling over in their graves at the flaccid timidity of their 21st century successors. Perhaps the plain-speaking senator-elect from Virginia, James Webb, will be able to remind other senators of their duty and curtail their mutual fawning when he takes office in January


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