The Sex Appeal of Congressional Oversight Hearings

Sen. Bernie Sanders and other politicians rethinking the war in Afghanistan.

Where is the public outcry for congressional oversight hearings on the war in Afghanistan?  Granted, the words "congressional oversight hearings" aren't particularly sexy--certainly not as alluring as "shock and awe," "insurgency," "counterinsirgency," "airstrikes," and "Hellfire missiles."  But one thing that is always sexy is power, and Congress has the power to prevent these airstrikes and missiles from killing thousands of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, thereby removing some of the hostility toward our country and reasons for joining the Taliban's insurgency.  As Tom Hayden wrote his week, Congress has the power to bring in experts to examine the overall goals for this war; costs and budgeting; skyrocketing casualty rates; use of private contractors; human rights violations and torture.  If that kind of power isn't sexy, I don't know what is, but the fact of the matter is Congress won't call for oversight hearings until we make them.

Now there are some true leaders in Congress who have already shown a willingness to oppose the Obama administration, the Pentagon, and a corporate press that has remained largely uncritical of the administration's plans for military escalation.  Senator Bernie Sanders is one of those leaders.  Though he doesn't approve of President Obama's decision to send an additional 17,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, here's how he tactfully voiced his dissent:

The last thing in the world that I want to see is our new President -- who I have a lot of confidence in in many respects -- we don't want to see him bogged down the way LBJ was bogged down in Vietnam.  We don't want to see another war in Iraq, which was so disastrous in so many respects.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.
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