The Wastrels of Defense
How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security
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In this damning expose, a veteran senate defense advisor argues that since Sept 11, 2001, the conduct of the U.S. Congress has sunk to new depths and endangered the nation's security. Winslow Wheeler draws on three decades of work with four prominent senators to tell in lively detail how members of Congress divert money from essential war-fighting accounts to pay for pork in their home states, cook the budget books to pursue personal agendas, and run for cover when confronted with tough defense issues. With meticulous documentation to support his claims, he contends that this behavior is not confined to one party or one political philosophy. He further contends that senators who sell themselves as reformers and journalists covering Capitol Hill are simply not doing their jobs. Pork is far from a new phenomenon in Washington, yet most Americans fail to understand its serious consequences. Wheeler knows the harm it does and challenges citizens to take action against lawmakers pretending to serve the public trust while sending home the bacon. Dubbed a "Hill Deep Throat" who participated in the game he now criticizes, he fills his book with evidence of Congressional wrongdoing, naming names and citing specific examples. Pointing to the extremes that have become routine in the legislative process, he focuses on defense appropriations and Congress's willingness to load down defense bills with pork, in some cases with the Pentagon's help. On the question of deciding war, he accuses today's members of Congress of lacking the character of their predecessors, often positioning themselves on both sides of the question of war against Iraq without probing the administration's justifications. Wheeler concludes with a model for reform that he calls twelve not-so-easy steps to a sober Congress.