Lieberman’s Era of Blinkered Oversight Likely to End
When Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) meets on Capitol Hill today with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, the big question will be whether Lieberman, an ardent John McCain backer, will be cut off entirely from the Democratic caucus. What’s almost certain, though, is that Lieberman will lose his chairmanship of the Senate oversight committee.
It’s not as high profile as stumping for McCain, but Lieberman’s performance as oversight chairman was also a betrayal of the Democratic Party– and, more important, Congress’ role as a check on executive power.
While colleagues like Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) spent the past two years investigating the Iraq war and torture, Lieberman never probed any Bush administration conduct related to national security.
A piece I did in February looked at how Lieberman refused a request to investigate Blackwater after its security employees opened fire on civilians in an Iraq public square. Since February, the Senate oversight committee has held hearings on important topics like FEMA’s response to Hurricane Ike and the workplace rights of government employees. But Lieberman has steadfastly refused to use his subpoena power to investigate the biggest administration scandals.
Besides foreign policy, Lieberman was also noticeably silent on the financial crisis. Maybe he would be more interested in investigating an Obama administration. But it looks like he won’t get the chance.