Upset Over GAO’s Findings On Iraq, Lawmaker Attacks Agencies’ Qualifications To Issue Report

Now that the GAO has reported that there is little to no progress in Iraq and that the administration may be cooking the books on levels of violence, conservatives are desperately trying to attack the agency’s credibility.

Today at a House International Relations Committee hearing, ranking member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) attempted to claim that the GAO was unqualified to even render a judgment on the situation in Iraq. Describing the process of accountability as “unsettling,” Ros-Lehtinen complained, “I just feel uncomfortable listening to a report by the Government Accountability Office about a war effort.”

GAO Comptroller General David Walker responded by defending the agency’s experience in such matters. He explained the work the GAO does is based on “looking at hard data, interviewing qualified individuals, and appropriate parties have an opportunity to review and comment on our work.” Walker added that military experience is not a necessary requirement to offer a qualified opinion:

The President and the Vice President have no military or foreign policy experience. Does that mean I don’t respect their opinion? I do. They’ve got a lot of people who work for them that do. So I think it’s a false claim to say you know we’re not qualified to do this work. We’re eminently qualified to do this work.

Later, Walker added, “For the record, It’s my understanding that Secretary of Defense Gates does not have any military experience either. So frankly, I think we need to stick with the facts.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/09/Walker_Roz.320.240.flv]

Ros-Lehtinen has had no problem citing the work of the GAO in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff or enlisting the GAO’s resources to pursue her agenda. It’s only when she doesn’t like the agencies’ conclusions that she finds fault with the work of the office.