Summoning the ghost of Harry Truman, the Senate's freshman Democrats on Wednesday called for the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate wartime profiteering in Iraq.The Senators had planned to try and attach the legislation to the 2008 defense authorization bill, but now that Majority Leader Reid has yanked the bill due to Republican obstruction on other Iraq-related amendments, they will introduce it as a separate bill.
Truman was a freshman senator from Missouri in 1941 when he led an inquiry into waste and abuse in government contracting during World War II.
Under the 2007 version of his effort, spearheaded by Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jim Webb of Virginia, the proposed commission would investigate the mismanagement of private contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has resulted in $9 billion in taxpayer dollars unaccounted for.
McCaskill, a former state auditor who uses Truman's old Senate desk, said at a press conference of freshmen lawmakers, "I realized we had the same problem in this war that Harry Truman found in World War II, except that it's on steroids. It's out of control."
Truman subsequently became vice president and the nation's 33rd president in 1945 upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Webb said the plan to revive the Truman committee's work would create an eight-member Commission on Wartime Contracting, which would focus on the government's increasing reliance on private contracting during war.
He said it wouldn't create a new bureaucracy but would expand the role of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction by adding oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction and private contracts for security and logistical support to its portfolio.
The commission would issue a report after one year, a final report after two and then shut down.
If you haven't seen "Iraq for Sale" by Robert Greenwald, you should. It's a great documentary with all the dirty details on the corrupt contracting that has gone on these past few years.