The Real Obstructionists

Last week, President Bush joined conservative congressional leaders in attacking their political opponents as partisan “obstructionists.” This argument is patently false. In the high-profile cases when the conservative agenda has been blocked — on Social Security privatization, the nuclear option, John Bolton — President Bush has actually faced bipartisan opposition.

But more importantly, on virtually every major issue of the day — Iraq, terrorism, ethics scandals, detainee abuse, and more — it is conservatives in Washington who are obstructing progress and thwarting the will of the American people.

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking Investigation into “Fixed” Pre-War Intelligence Despite damning revelations in the Downing Street Minutes and other leaked British memos, we still don’t have the details regarding the Bush administration’s possible manipulation of pre-war intelligence. Why? Because Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has blocked the planned examination of the administration’s role in shaping pre-war intel, saying it would be a “monumental waste of time.”

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking Vital 9/11 Commission ReformsThe 9/11 Commission regrouped early this month out of fear “that the Bush administration and Congress will never act on some of their recommendations.” For instance, commission members believe new National Intelligence Director John Negroponte is “not yet heeding a top recommendation” to tear down barriers between U.S. spy agencies.


OBSTRUCTION: Blocking the Ethics Committee from OperatingThe House ethics committee has been paralyzed by conservatives for the second time this year, thanks to a conflict over staff hiring initiated by chairman (and former Jack Abramoff associate) Rep. Doc Hastings.

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking an Exit Strategy from IraqEven in the face of spiraling violence and increasing U.S. casualties, the Bush administration still refuses to offer a exit strategy or even present detailed benchmarks by which the success of their current strategy can be judged.

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking Progress Towards a ‘Culture of Life’ Congressional conservatives voted down legislation to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and President Bush is threatening to veto visionary new stem cell legislation.

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking an Independent Investigation of Detainee Abuse AllegationsMore than a year after detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere became public, there still has been no independent, overarching investigation of the numerous allegations of torture and abuse at U.S. prisons, nor of the potentially illegal practice of extraordinary rendition.

OBSTRUCTION: Blocking Data on Iraq ProgressU.S. forces in Iraq have “no higher priority” than developing Iraqi security forces. Yet the Defense Department has made it almost impossible to determine the status of our training efforts, or to determine what constitutes success in the first place, by blocking access to accurate reports of our efforts. Currently their data is unreliable and vague, categories of analysis in the reports “come and go without explanation,” and the metrics for judging readiness “change from week to week.”