Pete Stark - grandstanding idiot Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Anti-war Congressman Pete Stark, upon seeing an Army War College class on a scheduled trip to Washington DC in the gallery of the US House of Representatives, wrote the following letter to SecDef Gates:
May 16, 2008
The Honorable Robert Gates Secretary of Defense 1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Gates:
Yesterday, while voting on the war supplemental spending bill in the House of Representatives, I couldn't help but notice a contingent of approximately 20 flag rank Army officers sitting in the House Gallery watching the debate and vote for a couple of hours. I was looking from below so I thought they were Army, but there could have been other branches present.
It's possible they were on leave time or vacation. If so, I obviously have no concern. However, if they were doing this on military time, I want an explanation of why they were there.
At a time when our nation is at war, our troops are over-extended, and the Administration is literally asking for emergency military spending, what good to the "war on terror" is having US Generals and other top ranked officers - who were likely accompanied by staff and escorted by their chauffeurs - spending hours sitting in the gallery of the House of Representatives?
Please provide for me the name, rank, branch, and duties of each of these officers, as well as the number of additional staff and drivers that were used to facilitate their attendance yesterday. I would like this information by Monday, May 19th.
If they were here on official duty, this was an abhorrent misallocation of our military resources at a time of war.
CC: The Honorable Ike Skelton, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
CC: The Honorable Jack Murtha, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense
I love the pure ignorance found in such a letter. An Army War College class usually has no generals. In fact, it is a prerequisite for making general officer. So the group was most likely made up of colonels. And, of course, as students they'd have no "staff" and certainly no "chauffeurs".
Of course Stark couldn't have possibly sent one of his multitude of "staff or chauffeurs" up there to inquire as to who they were and why they were there, could he? Had he done that he'd have missed this golden opportunity to take all these cheezy little shots at them and DoD, wouldn't he? He couldn't have expressed his disdain for them in a letter to Gates if he'd taken the time to ask a simple question of them, could he?
Stark's office released that letter around noon Friday. About four-and-a-half hours later came a shorter release in which Stark said he'd been informed that the onlookers weren't generals, but a class from the war college in Carlisle, Pa.
"I appreciate the swift response," Stark said in his follow-up statement, without retracting or apologizing for his earlier complaints. "However, if these officers were hoping for a lesson in how Congress ought to work, then perhaps the Iraq supplemental wasn't the best debate for them to witness."
Actually, if those officers wanted an lesson in how Congress works right now, that was probably the perfect debate for them to see.
I always think, when I see things like this, how fun it would be to write the response letters. It’s the tone of irony that the British are so good at that you want to get just right, vis:
The group in question turns out to have been a class from the War College, visiting Congress on a scheduled trip in order to see how our government works. There were no generals, no chauffeurs, and no additional staff involved. (See attached list of names, ranks and duties, per your request.) I am certain that watching you in action provided these soldiers ample lessons in the nature and operation of the House of Representatives, as it would do for any citizen able to attend the Congress’ public gallery to watch you carrying out your public duties.
I hope that this satisfactorily addresses your concerns, and will be happy to provide such additional information as might be necessary. Please do not concern yourself that answering such requests might do no good for the war on terror, or constitute a misallocation of resources: the research on which of the over a million people in uniform might have been in any given place at any given time is done by my staff. No chauffeurs are involved.
" watching the debate and vote for a couple of hours. I was looking from below..."
Evidently it was just too busy for him to snatch a moment or two from his debating and voting to ask a page or other congressional flunky to go and ask who these people were. I am pretty sure that large groups do not just wander in and out of the capitol without someone knowing who they are. Think of all the embarrassment he could have saved himself, not to mention the time and resources used to write and deliver his letter.
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