Friday, May 28, 2004

A Prophet Is Without Honor In His Own Country

It seems that Sen. John Warner (R-VA) is getting grief from the Right Wing for daring to investigate the prisoner abuses in Iraq.

The silver-haired Virginian with courtly manners is a throwback to a forgotten era of congressional comity. But as he leads the Senate’s inquiry into abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) also shows another side: a penchant for bucking his party, taking heat and surviving.

Warner says his committee has a “solemn responsibility” to discover what went wrong and to “make sure it never, never happens again.” But some conservatives are angry about the high-profile televised hearings, saying the prisoner-abuse issue is overblown and threatens to undermine the United States’ primary mission in Iraq.

As a result, the 77-year-old Virginian finds himself in an uncomfortable but familiar position: more at odds with the right flank of his own party on some critical issues than he is with Democrats.

“I think he should stop the hearings at this point; we’ve heard enough,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), a committee member. “We have a war to win, and we need to keep our talents concentrated on winning the war as opposed to prisoner treatment.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) complained that Warner and other Senate members have become “mesmerized by cameras.” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was irked when Warner, in a departure from normal committee practice, decided to put all abuse-inquiry witnesses — including the secretary — under oath, according to Senate sources.

But Warner shows no signs of backing off, arguing that the country wants and deserves a vigorous examination of the sexual humiliation, physical abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. He has held three televised hearings this month to question top Pentagon officials and military commanders — two more televised sessions than the House has allowed — and he is planning more.

Friends say Warner — a sailor in World War II, a Marine during the Korean War and secretary of the Navy before he came to the Senate in 1979 — is motivated by a strong belief that the reputations of both the military and the Senate are at stake unless they get to the bottom of the scandal. “To do otherwise would be contradictory to everything he has experienced in his professional life,” said committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.). Besides, McCain added, “it would be incredibly stupid politically.”[Washington Post]

Senator Warner is far too classy to say this to Inhofe or Hunter, so I will: Piss off, you pompous, arrogant, narrow-minded, back-stabbing, rabble-rousing, never-met-a-bigot-you-didn’t-like, sucking-up-to-Rove little twerps. John Warner may be a Republican, but he’s done more for the search for truth and justice in Iraq than all the spluttering on the floor of the Senate and House or rants on FOX News by Rumsfeld’s little Smees (vis Peter Pan) put together.