2006.06.07: June 7, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: Iraq: Westport-News: U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Fiji: Special Report: Former Congressman Chris Shays: RPCV Congressman Chris Shays: Newest Stories: 2006.06.07: June 7, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Fiji: Politics: Congress: Iraq: Westport-News: U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan

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U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan

U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan

Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji in the 1960's.

U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan

Shays Admits Errors On Iraq
Don Casciato

In what might eventually prove to be a precursor to a change in how the United States deals with the war in Iraq, U.S. Rep Christopher Shays (R-4) now says that he did not provide aggressive enough oversight of the Pentagon's war plan.

His statement appeared in last Sunday's Connecticut Post a sister paper of the Westport News in a story written by the paper's Washington correspondent, Peter Urban.

The reporter had asked the congressman to respond to criticism against him by his Democratic Party opponent, Diane Farrell, the former Westport first selectwoman.

She has been critical of his Iraq viewpoints in both her run against Shays in 2004 and has intensified her rhetoric and criticism this time around her second effort to unseat him.

Although the congressman now believes more oversight of the Pentagon's war plan was needed, according to the article, Farrell claims Shays has failed to oversee the Iraq war effort.

In addition, Farrell criticizes Shays for stubbornly supporting President Bush's Iraq policy rather than demanding a sensible plan to win the peace.

Pat on Bush's Back?

"If people like Chris Shays President Bush's most loyal supporter of the war in Iraq would demand a workable plan to win the peace in Iraq, maybe we could accomplish the mission," she said, in the Connecticut Post article. "Instead, Chris and his allies in this Republican-controlled Congress continue to pat the president on the back and tell him he's doing the right thing in Iraq."

Farrell has never explained how she determined that Shays is the "most loyal supporter of the war in Iraq." The Urban article did not mention the fact that Shays has been critical of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Meanwhile, the Farrell camp Monday issued another press release in which the Democrat says Shays' admission in the newspaper is a "politically expedient move that is pitifully late and inadequate" and she asks him what other mistakes he has made. Shorter versions of the Post story supplied by wire services appeared in other area newspapers.

The Democratic Party challenger had issued an earlier news release complaining that Shays failed to properly oversee Iraqi reconstruction efforts, pointing to an April government audit that detailed millions in government waste.

The audit found that a private contractor was paid $190 million to build 150 health centers throughout Iraq, but completed only six of them before the contract was canceled.

"I think Chris has fallen down on the job in terms of oversight," Farrell said. "He has abrogated his fiduciary responsibility to the American people by not watching the money more closely. The health centers are probably the best case in point."

Partisanship Blues

The article by Urban stated that Farrell sees the problem as one of partisanship. "When one party is in charge, it is much less likely to perform that critical oversight function," she said.

Farrell says she believes there would be more oversight of the Bush administration if Democrats were in the majority in the House and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, (D-Ohio), was chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations. He is currently the ranking Democrat.

"Someone like Representative Kucinich would have been a lot more conscientious about bringing administration officials to hearings," she said. "There would have been no 'noblesse oblige' going on between party members."

Kucinich declined to be interviewed for the Connecticut Post article. U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the full committee, as well as two other high ranking Democrats on the subcommittee, also refused interviews.

Aside from Farrell and the self-criticism of Shays, the congressman received generally favorable reviews for his leadership of the subcommittee.

Subcommittee Praised

"There's not enough oversight going on in Congress, but this subcommittee is clearly an exception to that general rule, said Comptroller General David M. Walker at an April hearing.

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Holle (D-Md.) agreed with that point of view.

"With the exception of this subcommittee pursuing some oversight within its limited jurisdiction, I think the House of Representatives has been totally AWOL, when it comes to oversight on this issue and has failed to live up to its constitutional responsibilities," said Van Hollen.

[Last week the Marylander visited Bridgeport with Farrell and Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi to discuss the nation's options on energy policy.]

A year earlier, Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.), commended Shays for holding hearings on "many, many important topics.

The U.S. policy on Iraq also was a major theme Sunday on Meet the Press with U.S Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) warning of further problems there.

The U.S. will have spent more than $320 billion by the end of the year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I fault myself," says Shays, in reflecting on some of the war problems. "I was hearing voices in my own head that this was going to cost more and I accepted the Pentagon numbers that were too low. I should have had hearings early on."

The subcommittee did hold hearings in 2002 and 2003 on troop preparedness focusing on "the toxic battlefield."

The incumbent congressman said he was convinced that U.S. troops would encounter chemical weapons going into Iraq and wanted to make sure the Pentagon equipped each soldier properly.

At the time, according to Shays, he was unaware that troops would be sent into battle without the body or vehicle armor needed to protect them from improvised explosive devices (IED). The Pentagon attributes 823 of the nearly 2,500 U.S. deaths in Iraq to IEDs.

"We were adamant about chemical protection, but we learned early on that they needed body armor," Shays says.

The Pentagon kept telling Shays that they would have the problem resolved in short order, but its solution was not adequate. If he had held a hearing on the body armor issue, Shays believes, the Pentagon may have responded more aggressively.

Vets' Group Responds

In another development, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Political Action Committee yesterday announced plans for a conference call in order to respond to Shays.

A press release stated: "Shays' admission that he 'should have had hearings early on' is too little, too late."

Jon Soltz, the executive director of the group and an Iraq war veteran, said he would hold a media-only conference call to respond to the interview by Shays.

Although the conference was too late to include in this story, further information can be found on: www.connpost.com/sports/ci _3898527





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Story Source: Westport-News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Fiji; Politics; Congress; Iraq

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