What Change in Congress??

Harry Reid: More Troops to Iraq!
By Alexander Cockburn
Dec 21, 2006, 01:23

This last Sunday Harry Reid, the incoming Democratic majority leader in the US Senate, went on ABC’s Sunday morning show and declared that a hike in U.S. troops in Iraq is okay with him.

Here’s the evolution of the Democrats’ war platform since November 7, 2006, the day the voters presented a clear mandate: “End the war! Get out of Iraq!” and took the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives away from the Republicans.

So somewhat to their surprise the Democrats recaptured both the Senate and the House. Then they went to work–to obliterate the mandate. The first thing they did was reject Jack Murtha, the man who said “Quit Now” in 2005. They voted down Murtha as House majority leader and picked the pro-war Steny Hoyer.

Then Nancy Pelosi, chose Silvestre Reyes as House Intelligence Committee chairman. Reyes promptly told Newsweek, “We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies. We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize IraqI would say 20,000 to 30,000-for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”

Reyes comes to his important post with an open mind, meaning an empty one. He knows nothing of the region. This became clear in his brief parley with a reporter from Congressional Quarterly who had the impudence to ply him with questions at the end of a tiring day when men of mature judgment head for the bar. CQ’s man asked Reyes if Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite.

Reyes tossed a mental coin. “Predominantly-probably Shiite.” Wrong, of course, since Al Qaeda is Sunni, of a notoriously intolerant strain. It’s as if Reyes had called the Pope a Presbyterian.

Then the pesky newshound probed him on the matter of Hezbollah. “Hizbollah. Uh, Hizbollah” Reyes answered irritably. “Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock?”

Back in 2003 Reyes, a Vietnam vet, was opposed to the war. Give him clout as Intelligence Committee chair and he starts citing John McCain approvingly, even upping the mad Arizonan’s troop-boost call by 10,000.

Next, the Democrats in the Senate gave unanimous confirmation to Robert Gates as defense secretary. Gates has a career record as one who slants intelligence to suit his bosses’ political agenda. Recently, as president of Texas A&M, he deep-sixed affirmation action as college policy. The Democrats in the Senate could have stretched out the hearings, grilled Gates closely on his plans, taxed him with his grimy past as Bill Casey’s second-in-command in the Contra-gate Era. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh said flatly in his memoirs that Gates was not truthful in his 1991 confirmation hearings about his role.

Next, House Democrats welcomed the Iraq Study Group report of James Baker and Jim Hamilton by promptly reaffirming the Palestinian Terror Bill 2006″, written by AIPAC.

Read the rest here.

Defense contractors don’t fear Dems
Published on Tuesday, December 26, 2006.
Source: New York Times

The only cloud might seem to be what the Democratic takeover of Congress could mean for their business. After all, this is an industry that has generally supported the Republican Partyby sending about 60 percent of its political contributions to Republican candidates.

But, even so, few in the military industry are worried. Next year’s Pentagon budget is expected to exceed $560 billion, including spending for Iraq. And, sometime this spring, President Bush has indicated he will seek an additional $100 billion in supplemental spending in 2007 for Iraq and Afghanistan.

And no one expects Democrats, in the last two years of the Bush administration, to make major changes, especially with the war continuing. Democrats are sensitive to the charge of being “soft” on defense, and are expected to use their control of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to establish their military bona fides for the 2008 presidential election. This would include Senator Hillary Rodham Clintonof New York, who is an increasingly vocal member of the committee.

“I wouldn’t look for Democrats to make cuts in the defense budget,” said Michael O’Hanlan, a military expert at the Brookings Institution. “You didn’t hear a lot about the defense budget in the last campaign and the Democrats know that you don’t mess with the top line.”

Read it here.

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