Oversight in the Dark


On January 29, 2007, Rep. Steve Cohen requested information on a private military company, Blackwater USA, from the Departments of State and Defense. Cohen had read some news articles about the firm, and wanted more information.

Congress has broad authority to oversee the Executive Branch. What happens when a member, on his own initiative, tries to exercise that authority by inquiring about a controversial company? At RealTime, Anu provides the answer, which suggests that journalists may well have as good or better access to government information as members of Congress. No wonder members are often reacting to the latest headlines, rather than developing policies that would prevent such occurences (for example, perhaps it would be better if, in a combat theater, rules of engagement are uniform, not one set for soldiers and the other set written by the State Department).