WHAT IS THE CPA?….You know that CPA thingie we have running Iraq at the moment? That, um, entity that Paul Bremer is in charge of? Yeah, that’s the one. Apparently no one really knows what it is:

The uncertainty goes back to the CPA’s birth, which seems to have happened via immaculate conception. The White House doesn’t appear to have announced it. References to the CPA just started showing up in government documents. [A Congressional Research Service report says], “[N]o explicit, unambiguous, and authoritative statement has been provided that declares how the authority was established, under what authority, and by whom.”

The report posits “two alternative explanations for how the CPA was established.” One is that Bush may have created the CPA via a presidential directive. The researchers caution, “This document, if it exists, has not been made available to the public.” The other explanation, suggested by the Army and others, is that the CPA was created by a U.N. Security Council resolution.

This is actually pretty common for practically everything associated with the war on terror. Gitmo? It’s not U.S., it’s not foreign, it’s not really anything. So the courts can’t touch it. The Iraq “war”? Not really a war. And we didn’t declare victory, either. That would have touched off Geneva Convention issues regarding prisoners of war major combat operations.

Everyone agrees that the conduct of war is primarily the responsibility of the executive, but shouldn’t Congress at least know what the rules are and how the game is being played? The Abu Ghraib scandal might be a good excuse for Congress to start insisting on a little more accountability and a little more transparency in how this war is being fought ? like insisting that the CPA be subject to normal audit and disclosure rules, for example. That $25 billion spending bill that’s headed their way might be a good place to start.