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June 23, 2005
Preparing The Next Obstructionist Target

Senate Democrats have selected their next target for their new obstructionist tactics of demanding more and more documentation as an excuse to filibuster an executive nomination. In this case, however, they won't demand documentation on the nominee, but on the man whom the nominee will replace:

The senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee has warned the Pentagon that he may block the nomination of a new defense policy chief unless documents involving the departing policy head -- Douglas J. Feith -- are turned over for review.

The action by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) threatens to hold up another important presidential appointment as lawmakers remain deadlocked with the Bush administration over the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. That dispute, too, involves Democratic requests for documents the White House has refused to surrender. ...

Levin has criticized Feith for portraying the relationship as more extensive and significant than U.S. intelligence agencies thought at the time. Administration officials have defended Feith's prewar efforts as reflecting a legitimate attempt to provide an alternative analysis. The Pentagon produced many documents that Levin requested, but has withheld others, citing confidentiality and legal concerns.

The Pentagon insists that it has complied with most of Levin's requests, even though the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed the same documents and concluded that nothing illegal occurred. Two documents have been withheld for security reasons: one is a legal analysis of the policy, which presumably Levin could hire an attorney to perform himself. The Pentagon describes the other document as material to be used in prosecuting foreign nationals when the need arises and wants to keep it quiet, for obvious reasons. Both apparently have been seen by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which as I said found no impropriety.

Levin simply wants to hold his own probe, and so far the Administration has been remarkably cooperative, even though Levin's probe has no official status within Congress. It's a leftover of the 2004 presidential election, when the Democrats demonized Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and other "neocons" for supposedly warping American foreign policy. However, the American people voted on policy in late 2004 when they re-elected George Bush to the presidency. Levin and the other Senate Democrats simply cannot believe that they lost that election and that the American people endorsed Bush's foreign policy, and they're trying to do anything they can to thwart the will of the electorate.

In the case of John Bolton, the filibuster represents the Democrats' attempt to derail Bush's stance on the United Nations. That is bad enough, but this new effort targets the war effort while we have men and women fighting overseas, and in any case only has the effect of keeping the man they dislike in the very position from which Democrats want him gone. It makes little sense, except as partisan gameplaying, using the Department of Defense as a pawn. It's time to consider the broader application of the Byrd option to all executive-branch confirmations, as the Democrats have clearly shown themselves to have committed to playing obstructionist games all session long.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 23, 2005 6:08 AM

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Captain's Quarters reports that the Dems have identified their next target ~ Doug Feith ~ a worthy candidate (hat tip The Daou Report).Senate Democrats have selected their next target for their new obstructionist tactics of demanding more and more docu... [Read More]

Tracked on June 23, 2005 12:01 PM

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