March 03, 2011

Dana Milbank, We Forgive You For "Mouthpiece Theater"

He really takes the House defense appropriations subcommittee -- and especially its chairman -- to task:

In his opening statement, Gates fervently appealed for funds
requested by Gen.
David Petraeus for equipment to protect troops in Afghanistan. The
money has been held up because it would come from a project benefiting a
major contributor to the committee chairman, Bill Young (R-Fla.).


"Mr. Chairman, our troops need this force-protection equipment, and they
need it now," Gates pleaded. "Every day that goes by without this
equipment, the lives of our troops are at greater risk." He urged action
"today" on the funds, admonishing: "We should not put American lives at
risk to protect specific programs or contractors." ...


Yet Gates couldn't get the lawmakers to agree to his urgent - and modest
- request to shift $1.2 billion in Pentagon funds to protect soldiers'
lives in Afghanistan. He asked for the money a month ago, but Young's
committee hadn't acted.


Why? Because Young objects to the money being taken away from the Army's
Humvee program. Never mind that the Army has more Humvees than it
wants. They are manufactured by AM General - which happens to be Young's
third-largest campaign contributor. Its executives have funneled him
more than $80,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Gates told Young in blunt terms that his delay was putting lives at
risk, but the gentleman from AM General was unmoved. "We would like to
analyze with you in some detail another source of that funding," he
replied, suggesting they talk more about a "helpful way to approach


Helpful to whom, Mr. Chairman? Your country, or your contributors?


I went searching around Rep. Young's website to see if he had posted a response, but as of this afternoon he had not. If you are at all motivated to contact Rep. Young, his office number is (202) 225-5961.