Lieberman rediscovers his love of oversight

LIEBERMAN REDISCOVERS HIS LOVE OF OVERSIGHT…. Wouldn’t you know it, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has suddenly found he takes administration oversight and subpoena power seriously again. All it took was a Democratic president.

Top senators on the Homeland Security panel subpoenaed the Obama administration for information they said they need for their investigation into last year’s Fort Hood shooting.

Senators Joseph Lieberman, the chairman of the committee, and Susan Collins, its ranking Republican, had said last week they would serve the Pentagon and the Justice Department if they did not receive access to certain witnesses and documents by Monday.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at the Texas’ Fort Hood last November. Mr. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Ms. Collins, a Maine Republican, say they have been seeking important information — such as Maj. Hasan’s personnel file — from the administration for months.

As far as the administration is concerned, publicly releasing materials related to the Hasan case may jeopardize Hasan’s trial, and officials are more concerned with prosecuting the mass murderer than satisfying Joe Lieberman’s curiosity.

Maybe that’s a compelling explanation, maybe it’s not. But stepping back, I can’t help but notice that Lieberman, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, didn’t start taking his responsibilities seriously until President Obama — the one who helped Lieberman keep his gavel in the first place — took office.

In 2007 and 2008, Lieberman was in the same position, and refused to engage in oversight of the Bush/Cheney administration. Questions arose, for example, into internal White House deliberations from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and senators were prepared to subpoena the administration. Lieberman rejected the effort. When his House counterpart, Henry Waxman, delved into the Pentagon’s propaganda operation, Blackwater’s activities in Iraq, and the controversy surrounding missing emails from the Bush White House, Lieberman chose not to do any oversight at all.

For the entire year of 2007, Lieberman’s first as committee chairman, the Connecticut Independent didn’t launch any proactive inquiries into administration controversies at all. No subpoenas, no hearings, nothing.

But now Lieberman has discovered he wants the White House to give him answers. What a coincidence.

Yesterday’s subpoena requests the documents be made available by next Monday. The administration is expected to ignore the request.