A waste of time and money

The federal deficit will wind up the year at over a trillion dollars, and the Congress has yet to pass a budget for FY20131 or any of the twelve annual appropriations bills for that year, and automatic tax increases are on the horizon, beginning in 2013, something Congress hasn’t addressed, but apparently both the House (run by the Republicans) and the Senate (run by the Democrats) have time for this:

Secret Service sex scandal: Congressional hearing set for May 23

By Dylan Stableford | May 13, 2012

The chairmen of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees leading a probe of the Secret Service said on Sunday that they plan to hold a May 23 Congressional hearing on the prostitution scandal that rocked the agency in April.

Secret Service director Mark Sullivan and Charles Edwards, acting inspector general of the Dept. of Homeland Security, will be present at the hearing, Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Joe Lieberman told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Lieberman said the hearing will address three questions: “One, is the inspector general satisfied with the investigation of what happened at Cartagena that the Secret Service did? Secondly, were there indications before the Colombian scandal of behavior by Secret Service agents off duty, on assignment, that should have been a warning that this was coming? And then, third, what are you going to do, Dir. Sullivan, to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again?”

“This is really a heartbreaking incident, and really a dangerous incident,” Lieberman added. “We really have got to make sure it never does happen again.”

Back when I was a student at the University of Kentucky, Dr Malcolm Jewell, then Chairman of the Political Science Department and the department’s specialist on legislatures, taught us that the purpose of congressional hearings on non-budgetary items was normally to determine if there was some changes which needed to be made in the law. But what the accused Secret Service agents and military personnel, supposedly did was already completely against regulations, and the Secret Service agents have already been disciplined for it, including several agents either resigning or being fired; the twelve service members suspected of being involved are already under investigation, and if they are found to have violated regulations or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they, too, will be punished.

Simply put, there is an allegation of serious misconduct, and the appropriate authorities have been taking action. If the President of the United States ends up dissatisfied with either the reaction to the incident or the cultural climate in which these men thought they could get away with these shenanigans, Director Sullivan or the commanders of the United States Southern Command (under which the military personnel served) will be relieved.

There are no laws or regulations needed here which require congressional action; the laws and regulations on the books have been sufficient to discipline the offenders. There is nothing that the Congress needs to do in this sordid incident, and it is nothing but a waste of time (that the distinguished gentlemen should be using for more important matters) and money (that we do not have and have to borrow from China).

Senator Lieberman said, “We really have got to make sure it never does happen again.” Sorry, but no: there has never been a law or regulation ever written that somebody hasn’t violated at some point. Congress lacks the power to “make sure it never does happen again.” The most that the Congress can do is write laws prohibiting such, and those already exist! Law enforcement is not the purview of the Congress; it is the job of the executive, in a prosecutorial role, and the judiciary, if matters come to trial.

  1. The House did, but Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, has stated that the Senate will not vote on any budget bill, at least until after the election, which would put it past the beginning of FY2013.

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