The Democrats, for their part, will use their new House majority to plague the administration with investigations. While the left would be appeased by investigations into why we invaded Iraq in the first place, it is financial scandals that will do the greatest damage to Bush and the Republicans.From a pragmatic standpoint, this advice seems quite sound. Yes, it would be nice to have hearings right away on the administration's conduct in Iraq, or on its warrant-less spying program. But the Bush administration will almost certainly, as Jeffrey Rosen has argued, resist any and all Democratic subpoenas, claiming executive privilege and the like. A constitutional crisis could ensue. Some liberals might welcome such a showdown—I could be convinced—but then again, the courts, stacked as they are with Bush appointees, might well favor the executive branch. It could turn into a disaster.
Democratic committee chairmen will examine Halliburton contracts in Iraq, royalty deals for offshore oil drilling, defense procurement scandals, and resource leases in national forests and wilderness areas. They will examine the nexus between campaign contributions and favors from the trough of the executive branch.
It is unclear how far chairmen like Mr. Rockefeller may push the administration to obtain more information about secret programs. The committee, like many others, has often degenerated into partisan rancor over the past two years, and Mr. Rockefeller, like other incoming chairmen, has told colleagues that one of his priorities is to restore the committee’s historic bipartisanship.That via in an article about how Democrats are planning to restore the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which had been in charge of rooting out waste and fraud before Republicans decided to shut the whole thing down. Mind you, it seems unlikely that vigorous investigations into waste and fraud will actually improve the situation in Iraq, especially at this point, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.
But there is unlikely to be much downside for the Democrats in going after waste and fraud in government contracting, particularly in the Iraq war, which is not only unpopular with the American public but also where corporate giants like Halliburton, Parsons and Bechtel have committed highly publicized missteps in the rebuilding program.