Two weeks after the 2006 elections put Democrats in charge of the Congress, Time Magazine depicted Rep. Henry Waxman, now chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as “The Scariest Guy in Washington.” In a column by Karen Tumulty, the ultra-liberal Beverly Hills Democrat is portrayed as “tenacious” and “no one tougher.”
Quoting from the left-wing Nation magazine, she calls the Napoleonic Mr. Waxman the “Eliot Ness of the Democrats” and describes those who work for him as “one of the most highly regarded staffs on Capitol Hill.”
In the blatant Time puff piece, Ms. Tumulty gushes “What Waxman does love to do is write laws, and he has been extraordinarily good at it.” She also quotes Mr. Waxman saying his role as committee chairman will give him free rein to investigate “everything that the government is involved with [sic].” Notwithstanding the poor grammar — that may be the most accurate statement in the article.
Since becoming committee chairman, Mr. Waxman has initiated numerous investigations into the activities of the Bush administration. He has, according to his own press releases, probed — if that’s the right word — the case of Valerie Plame, the celebrity CIA operative; Karl Rove; medical treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Karl Rove; Defense Department and State Department contracting practices; Vice President Dick Cheney; Karl Rove; construction and hiring practices at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; the democratically elected government of Iraq and tried to smear the White House over erroneous reports on the tragic death of Pat Tillman and the rescue of Jessica Lynch. Other than reducing entire forests to pulp for the paper to print his “reports,” the American people, in whose name all this is done, have precious little to show for his “tireless work.”
Notwithstanding Mr. Waxman’s billing as a legislator who loves to “write laws, and he has been extraordinarily good at it,” only three of the 95 bills he has sponsored in the last decade have been enacted. Seventy-seven were so good they didn’t even make their way out of committee.
Mr. Waxman’s supporters describe him as a “crusader” for “transparency” in government. But the Time Magazine flattery feature failed to disclose that the Time Warner Political Action Committee was the No. 1 donor — $13,500 — to his 2006 re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Perhaps this revelation will prompt him to investigate the Federal Election Commission.
Apparently Mr. Waxman’s quest for “full accountability” in government contracting applies only to Republicans. According to the Politico, a Capitol Hill publication, the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) have been exploring whether Pennsylvania Reps. Paul Kanjorski and Jack Murtha — both cronies of Mr. Waxman — improperly “earmarked” millions of dollars in defense contracts to a firm owned by members of Mr. Kanjorski’s family. Thus far Mr. Waxman has indicated no interest in the matter.
Perhaps that’s because “one of the most highly regarded staffs on Capitol Hill” has a few problems of its own. In July, while “investigating” hiring “abuses” in the construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this vaunted staff “invited” — to use Mr. Waxman’s word — Rory Mayberry to testify how the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was built by “kidnapped” Philippine workers.
At the time, Mr. Mayberry was described as a “whistleblower” who had “courageously come forward” to describe how unwilling Filipinos were dragooned into building our diplomatic mission. All the major news networks covered his shocking “revelations.” But this week, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire revealed that the committee’s star witness “has a string of convictions going back to the mid-1980s, including two for forgery, one for burglary and a fourth for welfare fraud.” So much for good staff work.
Of course, none of this has deterred Mr. Waxman and his merry minions in their continuing effort to hunt down and destroy anyone connected to the Bush administration. That’s why next week, the committee has “invited” Erik Prince, the founder and chief executive officer of Blackwater USA to testify about that company’s work in Iraq. His legendary staff has demanded, as in all its other “investigations” that the private security company deliver “all documents” in the company’s possession pertaining to the much-publicized incident on Sept. 16, when a diplomatic convoy protected by Blackwater allegedly killed Iraqi civilians. Apparently it matters little to Mr. Waxman that the State Department’s Regional Security Office in Baghdad has yet to complete its own investigation into the incident.
When Mr. Prince appears before Mr. Waxman next week, he should expect to be accorded all the same “courtesies” granted to Gen. David Petraeus when he testified in September. His integrity is already impugned by selective “leaks” to the media.
The fact 30 Blackwater security personnel have been killed protecting U.S. officials — without losing any of their protectees doesn’t seem to matter. Interestingly, Mr. Waxman himself has been the beneficiary of their courage and skill during his visit to Iraq. Yet, given the committee’s zeal to destroy any and all associated with the Bush administration, no good deed will go unpunished.
Given this behavior, is it any wonder that Congress has an 11 percent approval rating from the American public?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the host of “War Stories” on the Fox News Channel.