The following is from Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, in part:
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;Seems pretty simple, right?
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Understood pretty well, yes?
So what does it mean when you hear the following:
ABC News, Jan. 10, 2006 — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called the Bush administration "incompetent" when it came to protecting the troops in combat and called the lack of adequate body armor for soldiers and Marines "unforgivable."It does not mean that the Bush Administration is at fault for not asking for body armor, but that Congress is at fault for not carrying out ITS duties to ensure that soldiers get the equipment that CONGRESS thinks it needs. You may rightly attack the President for not asking for enough body armor, Sen. Clinton, but you do NOT get away from YOUR responsibility to SUPPLY what CONGRESS believes is the right amount. You are pointing out that if the Bush Administration is 'incompetent' then the Congressional lack of insight and ability is criminal and near treasonous. And then not bothering to SHOW UP at the hearing addressing this is pure negligence with malice aforethought, Sen. Clinton.
And we can now add other Congresscritters to this dishonor roll of incompetence:
From the Senate office of Barbara Milkulski - 19-Jan-2006, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) sent a letter to Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator John Warner (R-Va.) today expressing deep concern over reports that U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq do not have sufficient body armor to protect themselves on the battlefield.And perhaps you can hold a hearing to find out how the Armed Forces of the United States are to protect themselves from YOUR lack of competence, Sen. Milkulski. And perhaps you two can explain why you voted AGAINST more body armor for the National Guard and Reserves in 2003?
Perhaps this 60 Minutes look at things in 31 OCT 2004 might help to understand where some of the culprits are in this:
Winslow Wheeler, a long time Capitol Hill staffer who spent years writing and reviewing defense appropriations bills, thinks he knows one reason why those shortages exist, after looking at the current Defense budget. Army accounts that pay for training, maintenance and repairs are being raided by Congress to pay for pork-barrel spending.Yes, Congress puts in all sorts of little 'goodies' for itself and IGNORES the mundane things like actually making sure the Armed Forces are properly supplied as it isn't glamorous. And who is to blame for NOT getting those things to the Armed Forces when Congress is given the whole and entire oversight of ensuring that they ARE?
Wheeler says $2.8 billion that was earmarked for operations and maintenance to support U.S. troops has been used to "pay the pork bill."
Wheeler, who has written a book called "The Wastrels of Defense," says congressmen routinely hide billions of dollars in pet projects in the defense bill.
And buried in the back of this one, Wheeler found a biathlon jogging track in Alaska, a brown tree snake eradication program in Hawaii, a parade ground maintenance contract for a military base that closed years ago, and money for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial celebration.
By law, these projects can't be cut, so Pentagon bookkeepers will have to dip into operations and maintenance accounts to pay for them.
"They do all kinds of things that adds up to: 'We're basically eating our own young to support the war,'" he says.
According to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a member of the Armed Services Committee who speaks out against pork-barrel spending, there is a total of $8.9 billion of pork in this year's defense bill, which would go a long way toward upgrading all the equipment used by the National Guard.
"I don't think that this war has truly come home to the Congress of the United States," McCain says. "This is the first time in history that we've cut taxes during a war. So I think that a lot of members of Congress feel that this is just sort of a business-as-usual situation."
"The least sexy items are the mundane - food, repair items, maintenance – there's no big contract there," says McCain. "And so there's a tendency that those mundane but vital aspects of war fighting are cut and routinely underfunded."
And then there is this little gem:
From the Office of Sen. Feinstein 3 OCT 2002 - Senator Feinstein first introduced the James Guelff Body Armor Act almost seven years ago in response to the death of San Francisco police officer James Guelff. On November 13, 1994, Guelff responded to a distress call. Upon reaching the crime scene, he was fired upon by a heavily armed suspect who was shielded by a kevlar vest and bulletproof helmet. He Guelff died in the ensuing gun fight.And how did she vote a year later for getting body armor, helmets and other equipment to the National Guard and Reserve? NAY! Remember, that actually serving in the Armed Forces where actual COMBAT might be required is a lower priority than Civilian Law Enforcement. I do not denigrate the Law Enforcement community in this, but the Citizen Soldiers who are going to be put in harms way deserve the best protection that they can utilize and we are damned for not providing same to them FIRST.
The legislation was later also named after Officer Chris McCurley when Senator Sessions came on as a cosponsor and wanted to recognize an officer in his home state who was also killed by a gunman wearing body armor.
"It is unconscionable that our laws permit felons to obtain and wear body armor without restriction, when so many of our police lack comparable protection," Senator Feinstein said.
The bill directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to provide an appropriate sentencing enhancement for any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime in which the defendant used body armor. It also makes it unlawful for a person who has been convicted of a violent felony to purchase, own, or possess body armor.
"Lee Guelff, brother of the slain officer, has worked tirelessly on behalf of this legislation for years. He wrote to me about why this legislation is so vital.
"'It's bad enough when officers have to face gunmen in possession of superior firepower... But to have to confront suspects shielded by equal or better defensive protection as well goes beyond the bounds of acceptable risk for officers and citizens alike. No officer should have to face the same set of deadly circumstances again.'"
When the manufacturers of the actual armor for infantry and HUMVEEs ran into *production* bottlenecks, what did Congress do?
Did they do the "Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings" that is REQUIRED of them to do so as to ensure the supply of goods to the Armed Forces? They actually did get one Arsenal involved, but that ramp-up time for modern armor production is horrendous.
And was armor the only thing that went missing from the ready stores so as to keep the warfighter supplied? Back to that 60 Minutes story:
(CBS) Two weeks ago, a group of Army reservists in Iraq refused a direct order to go on a dangerous operation to re-supply another unit with jet fuel.Yes, armored HUMVEEs were also a problem, although a production one. Was that it? No, let us read further:
Without helicopter gunships to escort them over a treacherous stretch of highway, and lacking armored vehicles, soldiers from the 343rd Quartermaster Company called it a suicide mission.
The Army called it an isolated incident, a temporary breakdown in discipline, and an investigation is underway.
But the 343rd isn't the first outfit to be put in harm's way without proper equipment, and commanders in Iraq acknowledged that the unit's concerns were legitimate, even if their mutiny was not.
With a $400 billion defense budget you might think U.S. troops have everything they need to fight the war, but that's not always the case.
Oregon guardsman Sean Davis told us that his unit was short ammunition and night vision goggles, and lacked radios to communicate with each other.Maintenance equipment, spares, stores, even such things as bullets. Where was Congress on this? Were they authorizing new contracts to be let, left, right and center. Calling for new Arsenals and Armories to be opened? Because these ALL are under the jurisdiction of Congress. You do not get to blame the Executive on this and as the Armed Forces must go through with what you send them to do on the contracts and supply realm, Congress has clear oversight of THAT. Instead they saw fit for a Biathlon track in Alaska and parade ground maintenance for a closed base, such handy things with which to save the Union with.
He says guardsman were using walkie-talkies that they or their families purchased from a sporting goods or similar store. "And anybody can pick up those signals, you know," he says. "And we don't have the radios that we need."
Gen. Byrne says stories about families in Oregon having to go out and buy for their sons and daughters radio equipment, body armor, GPS gear, computers and night vision goggles because they weren't being issued are true.
He said some Guard units are also using Vietnam era M-16 assault rifles, which he calls adequate for state duty but not acceptable for duty in Iraq. There is also a bullet shortage for training, he says.
It bothers him, but "there's nothing I can do about it," he says.
"If I was making the decisions, I would readjust," he says. "The soldier on the ground should be a focus. When that's taken care of you can take care of other stuff."
The Army acknowledged to 60 Minutes that there is a shortage of radios in Iraq and a shortage of bullets for training, and says both are in the process of being remedied. There have also been problems with maintenance and replacement parts for critical equipment like Abrams tanks, Bradley personnel carriers and Black Hawk helicopters.
Any time you hear any Congresscritter point to the Administration for 'not supplying the troops' remember that the responsibility for scoping out supplies, stores, munitions, and even such things as the SIZE of the Armed Forces is done by Congress, *not* the Executive. Congress had long months between the actual Congressional Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq and the actual start of hostilities that could have been used to get the logistics and production supply base properly up and running. The did NOT do that then and this Congress looks as incapable as that one.
Even worse, however, is that Congress does not understand its real-live, actual War Powers. Here is a bit from a hearing on the Blackwater incident as reported by CNN News on 8 FEB 2007 about the hearings held on 7 FEB 2007 by the House Oversight Committee:
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said federal law prevents lawsuits against contractors acting as government agents in a war zone, and he raised hackles among the witnesses when he asked whether their attorneys wrote their opening statement.Now that just is plain wrong, although for the standard procedures for the Armed Services it is correct, but that is NOT the only set of War Powers that Congress gets. In point of fact there is an exact set of Laws that do apply to this as put forward by the Constitution a bit further up in Section I, Article 8:
"Why are you dwelling on that?" asked Kathryn Helvenston-Wettengel, Helvenston's mother.
"We're subcontracting out our war. I understand there's 100,000 contractors over there, and there doesn't seem to be a law that applies," she added.
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;That is the Privateer power in which Congress sets up a system of Warrants and pay for Bounty or selling of Captured Goods at Auction against those that are defined as Enemies of the Union that the regular Armed Forces cannot act against. They do not get PAID until they actually fulfill the work as set out by Congress and only those that meet the Warrant capabilities put forward by Congress can get the Letters to carry out the War Powers of the Union under their own cognizance.
The Blackwater Personnel do *not* fit into this as Congress has been lax in putting forth a System of Warrants and then requiring the Executive to draw up a list of Enemies that need to be curbed and then Congress offering Bounty for the ending of Commerce and Trade with those Enemies to those that have such Warrants to enact such Letters. But there is that entire War Power which Congress ignores to go after terrorists and their supporters and suppliers who would willfully attack the US and its legitimate Embassies and Government officers and Armed Forces without declaring War. Even better is that these being Privateers, they do NOT need to be supplied by the Union and take up lawful arms to carry out those warpowers as they see fit all on their lonesome, so long as they follow the strictures of warfighting put out by Congress. Yes, we can indeed go after them in that way
If Congress were not so treasonous and cowardly in the abdication of their responsibilities under the Constitution.
Congress is no longer cognizant of its powers and refuses to use them.
Congress no longer holds to their responsibilities given to them under the Constitution.
Congress now abuses the Federal budgetary system to get perks for themselves and their supporters.
Congress refuses to pay for those things necessary to protect the Union and ensure that the warfighter has the necessary equipment it needs.
The Executive has little to no say over these things.
These are Congressional powers.
Wherefore art thou, Congress?
Spineless, wool covered and bleating masses Upon the Hill.
Incompetent. Incapable. Destructive in their outlook towards the Nation.
I have severe problems criticizing the way a War is run, when the soldiers are not properly supplied by those that have the responsibility to do the supplying. Supply them with everything YOU think they need and ensure that it is at least what they ask for if not MORE if you think they are underestimating things.
Rather $100 Billion too MUCH than one red cent too little.
Congress is unable to do this or even comprehend this.
Why are they not held to their Oaths of Office by anyone?
And how can they claim to represent the Nation if they will not hold to their Oaths to it?