Intervention by Hill in Iraq War Not a First; 1860s Panel Criticized Lincoln

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Intervention by Hill in Iraq War Not a First; 1860s Panel Criticized Lincoln


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's uncommon for Congress to intervene in a war that's under way - as the Senate did Tuesday regarding Iraq - but there is a precedent for such interference, dating back to the Civil War.

It was in December 1861, eight months after the first bloodshed in the War Between the States, that the House and Senate approved the formation of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War to investigate the conflict. The panel consisted of three senators and four representatives.

"The majority of the members of that committee were radical Republicans, who were very critical of Abraham Lincoln's war policies," said Conrad Crane, director of the U.S. Army's Military History Institute.

The committee lasted four years and held 272 meetings.

"As time went by, the committee became more and more antagonistic and critical of Union generals. They investigated every senior Union general other than Ulysses Grant and went so far as to criticize actions taken by individual generals in specific battles," Mr. Crane said.

"In 1864, the committee expanded its duties to investigate all Union expenditures. They really went overboard, and all of this occurred right in the middle of the war."

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a Republican measure calling for changes in the Bush administration's Iraq policy and for the White House to prepare a schedule for transition to Iraqi sovereignty.

"Congressional oversight is an appropriate role, since the U.S. Constitution splits responsibility for war between the executive and legislative branches," Mr. …

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