March 18, 2006

Feingold Is Right; Now Congress Must Fulfill Its Oversight Responsibility

Norman Stockwell: Feingold is right; now Congress must fulfill its oversight responsibility

A letter to the editor
Dear Editor: In Monday's paper you ran a story on Sen. Russ Feingold's efforts to call for censure of President Bush. "The president must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law and then misleading the country about its existence and its legality," said Feingold.

I agree, but I believe the responsibility goes further. Senator Feingold sits on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations, Budget and Intelligence committees, all of which have oversight components related to the conduct of the "war on terror."

It was revealed this week by National Public Radio reporter Jackie Northam that sitting in Guantanamo, Cuba not on U.S. soil are "more than 120,000 documents," which Major General Jay Hood says were "hastily inventoried, stacked up, sealed and then transported here to Guantanamo ... Frankly, it's just in the last year that we've been able to take a closer look at what we've got here."

This is either gross negligence or total incompetence. Why were these documents, if they are such valuable clues in the investigation of terrorism, remanded to hurricane-prone, tropical storage in a foreign country and not even examined for the first three years? Why were they not brought to a state-of-the-art U.S. forensics laboratory following standard investigative process?

If, in fact, this disrespect of process and just plain common sense is any indication, Senator Feingold and other privacy advocates have good reason to voice concern over the way in which the mountains of data collected through an illegal wiretapping program are being handled.

I applaud Senator Feingold's bold statements, and I call on Congress to truly fulfill its oversight responsibility to the people of the United States, by whom they were elected.

Norman Stockwell