09/15/2005 08:55 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Close, But Still No GOP Oversight

The International Relations Committee staff was busy counting up a tie vote when one of the well-trained white male cadre that make up the Republicans in the U.S. House walked in late through the door.

"There's our vote," one of his homeboys shouted.

And in the time-honored reaction of conservatives everywhere, the latecomer shouted out "I vote no."
Except that he was supposed to vote "yes," because the motion was to kill Rep. Barbara Lee's valiant effort to force out into the open the executive branch documents related to the Downing Street Memo.

He was quickly reoriented, and the Bush Republic was saved from oversight for yet another day.

The good news is that all the Democrats on the International Relations committee voted together to investigate the Downing Street Memos from the U.S. side.

The bad news is that we missed by a hair.

H. Res. 375 was given an adverse recommendation by one vote, with 22 Republicans and 0 Democrats voting against Congressional oversight of the White House, 20 Democrats and Republican Jim Leach voting for oversight, with Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul (who is a prime cosponsor of the bill to bring the troops home soon, "Homeward Bound" with Reps. Kucinich, Abercrombie, and Jones) voting "present".

So the GOP proved once again that they only believe in oversight of Clintonian sex scandals.

Indeed, there was one particularly striking "lack of irony" moment, when Chairman Henry Hyde pontificated against "weakening and eroding the power of the president during a time of war", suggesting that he had "never seen a chief executive get less support in our country than George Bush had received".

Maybe he had his eyes closed while he was leading the impeachment battle against President Clinton. Or maybe he was referring to another country, not the U.S.--Germany? France? actually, almost any other country, where Bush certainly now gets less support than any other American President...

There was another entertaining moment when Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, one of the world's top defenders of anti-Castro terrorists, tried to downgrade the head of Great Britain's MI-6, their CIA, who is one of the key figures in the Downing Street Memo. She tried to make him sound like some junior intern, offering his "opinion" about U.S. plans to go ahead with the Iraq War, to fix the intelligence, and to fail to plan for the post-war situation.

Geez, she was talking about James Bond's boss!

I should also note some fine statements were made by Rep. Lee; by Rep. Leach (who pointed out that there has been no Congressional oversight over U.S. diplomacy and planning, even if one accepts that the flawed intelligence reports were definitive, which we do not); by Rep. Delahunt (who seconded Leach's diplomacy oversight point, which is definitely within the committee's jurisdiction); by Rep. Ackerman (who called it a "whitewash"--shouldn't that be "White House Wash"?); by Rep. Menendez ("the public has a right to know; Congress has an obligation to do oversight"); and by Minority Chair Lantos and Reps. Watson, Schiff, and Crowley.

And on behalf of, I want to give particular kudos to Rep. Barbara Lee and her staff, particularly Ven Neralla, who did a fine job against strong odds to come so close.

Another day, another GOP cover-up...