Assault on Checks and Balances (II): Hooray for the HAC(D)!!!

July 23, 1999

Comment: #300

Discussion Thread:  #s 61 & 169 (see also #s 49, 69, 114, 231, 283)

[1] Tim Weiner, "Pentagon Defied Laws And Misused Funds, Panel Reports," New York Times, July 22, 1999, Pg. 1


[3] Paul Richter, "Cohen Defends Pentagon On Fund Shift," Los Angeles Times, July 23, 1999, Pg. 8.

Accountability is the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution, a document EVERY member of the Defense Department has taken a SACRED OATH to uphold. Without accountability, the idea that we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is prologue to a farce, a tragedy, or both, to paraphrase Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Madison.

We face a clear moral crisis in the Pentagon for a simple reason: we have evolved habitual decision making practices that routinely violate the most basic accountability standards we profess, are expected, and have sworn to uphold in our oath to the Constitution. Moreover, we refuse steadfastly to acknowledge, let alone fix, the real problem posed by this violation, we blow off legitimate outside critics who try to do so, like Senator Grassley, and we routinely persecute insiders whose job it is fix them, like Ernest Fitzgerald.

Lincoln may have been justified in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, after all, the Civil War was a true emergency, but this assault on the checks and balances in the Constitution can not possibly be justified by any sense of national emergency. The Cold War is OVER!!!! Yet the assault continues unabated, increasing insensibly over time, insidiously infiltrating its corrupting cancer, a kind of political lymphoma, which spreads its self-replicating poison throughout the nervous system of our body politic. But as References #1 & #2 suggest, the assault may have escalated to a point where it can no longer be ignored by the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, the HAC(D), long considered by Pentagon insiders as being the most docile and obedient of our servants on the Hill.

Perhaps the whole Congress will forget about flag burning amendments will squirrel up enough courage to protect the real ideals of the Constitution, but don't count on it, because it would require Congress to give the military - industrial - congressional complex a little radiation treatment, and the HAC(D) is a lonely voice in Versailles on the Potomac.

The Committee, nevertheless, should be applauded by every American for acknowledging this threat to the most basic values underpinning our Republic.

For those readers who think I over-dramatize the accountability problem, I urge you to go to the web site beneath my signature and review the Defense Department Inspector General's analysis of Defense Department's unauditable accounting system in the Comment #61 ("The Pentagon's Corrupt Bookkeeping System (I)"), then read Comment #169 ("The Constitution, Situational Ethics, & the Phony Debate Over More Defense Spending.") which analyses the implications Pentagon's the response to these problems.

Finally, read the three references to this message. Now ask yourself a question: Is Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon's airy dismissal of HAC(D)'s charges as "honest mistakes and misunderstandings" indicative of a real desire to fix a systemic problem?

Hooray for the HAC (D) but as one congressional wag warned me, more work needs to be done, "Bacon's whining shows why radiation is not enough; Congress needs Dr. Kevorkian."

Chuck Spinney

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