Holy moly! I thought the biggest asshat in Congress was Sen. Dick Durbin.....well, yeah, he's still #1, but Stark is definitely giving him a run for his money.
Congressman questions DOD presence
By ERICA WERNER – May 16, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — An anti-war Democratic congressman is demanding to know why there were uniformed Defense Department personnel watching House proceedings from a public gallery Thursday, who they were and what they were doing.
"If they were here on official duty, this was an abhorrent misallocation of our military resources at a time of war," Northern California Rep. Pete Stark asserted Friday in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Stark, an 18-term incumbent known for his liberal positions and outbursts of temper, said he observed the contingent of 20 or so officers, apparently Army generals, in the gallery for a couple of hours while the House debated and voted on an Iraq war spending bill.
"At a time when our nation is at war, our troops are overextended, and the administration is literally asking for emergency military spending, what good to the 'war on terror' is having U.S. generals and other top-ranked officers — who were likely accompanied by staff and escorted by their chauffeurs — spending hours sitting in the gallery of the House of Representatives?" Stark asked.
The query drew a stinging response from a Pentagon spokesman.
"It seems that Rep. Stark issued his press release before sending his letter to Secretary Gates because we have yet to receive it, but without knowing the particulars of the incident he is inquiring about I can tell you that there is nothing unusual about military officers visiting and/or observing the workings of Congress," said spokesman Geoff Morrell.
"Secretary Gates has actively encouraged the military to recognize the important role Congress plays in defense and national security," Morrell said. "For that very reason, visits to the Hill and interaction with members and staff is a routine part of many professional military education programs."
Stark said he didn't have a problem if the military personnel were there on their own time, but if they were there on official duty he wanted to know why. He asked Gates for an accounting by Monday of the name, rank, branch and duties of each of the officers as well as how many staff members and drivers were involved.
Here's the follow-up again from AP
Congressman OK with military visit to House
By ERICA WERNER – May 16, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — An anti-war Democratic congressman backed off complaints about Defense Department personnel watching a House vote after the Pentagon told him they were students from the Army War College.
Northern California Rep. Pete Stark wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday demanding to know what the uniformed personnel were doing in a public gallery Thursday as the House debated and voted on an Iraq war spending bill. Stark claimed he saw some 20 Army generals or other officers there for a couple of hours.
"If they were here on official duty, this was an abhorrent misallocation of our military resources at a time of war," said the letter from Stark, an 18-term incumbent known for his liberal positions and outbursts of temper.
Stark's office released that letter around noon Friday. About four-and-a-half hours later came a shorter release in which Stark said he'd been informed that the onlookers weren't generals, but a class from the war college in Carlisle, Pa.
"I appreciate the swift response," Stark said in his follow-up statement, without retracting or apologizing for his earlier complaints. "However, if these officers were hoping for a lesson in how Congress ought to work, then perhaps the Iraq supplemental wasn't the best debate for them to witness."
In the course of the somewhat chaotic House action Thursday, the war spending bill fell to defeat after Republicans withheld their votes to punish Democratic tactics — probably as good as an example as any of how the House operates.
Rep. Stark is "ok" with "a class from the war college in Carlisle, Pa." on what was basically a field trip. Oh good for you, jackass!
Contact Congressman Stark and let him know your feelings on the subject.