Sunday, November 4, 2007

When Did Oversight Become Micromanaging?

In May, I asked,

If the legislative branch disapproves of an action taken by the executive, what should it do? To wit, what should Congress do with respect to war, so as not to "micromanage"? Is oversight limited to such things as a (toothless) Sense of the Congress resolution? Or, since Congress has the power of the purse, should it defund the war by withholding money or tying money to certain conditions (say, that Iraqi oil pay for 25% percent of our expenses)?

In his column today, George Will provides the answer:

American history is replete with examples of Congress restraining executive warmaking. (See Congress at War, a book by Charles A. Stevenson.) Congress has forbidden:

Sending draftees outside this hemisphere (1940-41); introduction of combat troops into Laos or Thailand (1969); reintroduction of troops into Cambodia (1970); combat operations in Southeast Asia (1973); military operations in Angola (1976); use of force in Lebanon other than for self-defense (1983); military activities in Nicaragua (1980s). In 1993 and 1994, Congress mandated the withdrawal of troops from Somalia, and forbade military actions in Rwanda.

When Congress authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against those complicit in 9/11, Congress refused to adopt administration language authorizing force "to deter and pre-empt any future" terrorism or aggression.