Dana Milbank of the Washington Post speculates, via strategically-placed parentheses, about the interest of certain members of Congress in holding Blackwater and other defense contractors accountable for their actions in Iraq. Are the contributions lining their campaign coffers causing some legislators to look the other way?
Here's an extended excerpt from Milbank's column on the testimony of Blackwater founder Eric Prince before the House Government and Oversight Committee:
Republicans, meanwhile, proved content to shill for a major donor. Prince's father helped to bankroll the religious-conservative movement, and his sister, Betsy DeVos, is a big Republican fundraiser who married into the Amway fortune. Prince himself has given $236,000 to GOP candidates and conservative causes -- typical of a defense contracting industry that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, gave nearly $1 million to members of the oversight committee since 2003 -- 83 percent of it to Republicans.
"Blackwater will be held accountable today!" vowed Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who has received only $6,300 from defense contractors over the past 17 years.
"Blackwater appears to have fostered a culture of shoot first . . . and then ask the questions," trumpeted Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), whose career contributions from defense interests tally a mere $1,200.
Republicans took a more favorable view of their benefactor.
"We should take care not to prejudge," said Tom Davis of Virginia ($717,829).
"We should not be holding this hearing," protested John Mica of Florida ($145,454). "Therefore, I move that the committee do now adjourn."