Hearings, at long last

Hoekstra and Roberts finally crawl out from under their respective rocks. It’s good news that the Congress will at last be holding hearings, even though they’re mostly on the wrong topics.

Having studiously neglected their oversight role during the two years since the White House trashed Valerie Plame’s cover, Republicans in both Houses of Congress have now decided to hold hearings. Predictably, they’re about everything but the main point: that the President is surrounded by a bunch of arrogant, incompetent, unpatriotic thugs with no sense of limits.

The House committee is going to think about whether we need an Official Secrets Act, though that phrase isn’t being used. We don’t. As several of Mr. Bush’s closest advisers are about to learn, we have adequate legislation already in place to punish activity that’s worth punishing.

The Senate committee, under White House shill Pat Roberts, is going to investigate “the CIA’s use of cover,” as if it were the CIA that had done something wrong here, and while they’re at it try to smear some slime on Patrick Fitzgerald, who is obviously getting too close to the guilty for GOP comfort.

Actually, the news, on balance, makes me happy. The hearings will help keep the story alive until the indictments are ready, and give the Democrats lots of opportunities to ask nasty questions. And the more the Republicans in Congress defend the indefensible, the worse things will be for them in 2006 and 2008.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com