Yesterday former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert in an op-ed entitled "Off the Buss on Security" called on Congress and the Bush administration to thoroughly investigate not just legal and process issues being looked at by the GAO, but also the very real national and economic security questions raised by the Air Force tanker decision.
In his article Rep. Hastert states a recent example of trouble that we may face more of in the future:
After U.S. troops began fighting in Iraq in 2003, owners of a Swiss company, Swatch Group AG, refused to deliver vital components it manufactured for U.S. weapons due to their opposition to our war effort. This unilateral action disrupted our supply chain for a critical military asset during a military campaign and put American troops directly at risk.
If one European CEO can impair our war effort, imagine what could be done by sovereign governments' intent on hindering U.S. efforts and with control over even more critical supplies like refueling aircraft. With the Air Force's decision, this could become reality.
The current Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already called for a congressional examination similar to the one the former Speaker proposes. We bring this point up again because a reader forwarded us an e-mail the KC-30 team had sent around to its supporters last week that stated:
The Associated Press is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who previously had questioned Northrop Grumman's tanker win, is now saying she wants to learn more about the contract before rendering a judgment.
We at Tanker War Blog love our local PR firms as much as the next blog, but the KC-30's crew seems to be over reaching way too far to portray Speaker Pelosi as changing her mind on the tanker contract.
Issue 1) So how is continuing to question/learn more about the contract a change?
Issue 2) Regardless of what the people in a particular state want to hear, Speaker Pelosi has not changed her position on the tanker contract; and that position is that the contract needs to be examined by Congress.
Here is the very telling AP passage the KC-30 team supposedly summarizes:
The first woman to be House speaker spoke later Friday to Alabama Democrats at the party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
Republican Gov. Bob Riley and Democratic Alabama House Speaker Seth Hammett on Thursday had urged Pelosi to accept the Air Force decision and not hold Congressional hearings on the project.
"Of all the people for the Democrats to bring to our state to hold up as a representative of what their party stands for, they chose Nancy Pelosi, even while she is vigorously fighting to take jobs out of Alabama," Rep. Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party said in a statement Thursday.
Pelosi said she has not made a decision and simply wants to make sure it's the best contract possible for building refueling tankers for the Air Force.
"We have the responsibility to the American people to protect them,"she said.
Pelosi mentioned the tanker contract only briefly in her speech to Democrats, instead urging them to unite behind the winner of the party's nomination for president, either New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton or Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
So let's get this straight: Speaker Pelosi plays nice, tries to avoid a touchy hometown subject, tactfully rebuffs local politicians pressing her to just "accept the Air Force decision", and then she gets slammed regardless in a very partisan way. So much for Southern hospitality...and so much for truthful KC-30 e-mails.