WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has been without its chief watchdog for more than a year. As a result, the military has gone on a billions of dollars a month Iraq spending spree, while controversy continues over warrantless surveillance and missing weapons.
President George W. Bush's nominee for the watchdog job is being held up because lawmakers have raised concerns that he's "all bark and no bite."
The job was created by Congress more than a quarter century ago for an independent watchdog to sniff out fraud, mismanagement and abuses such as the infamously overpriced hammers and toilet seats that became past symbols of Pentagon waste.
Without a pack leader, the other Pentagon watchdogs have have been criticized as being too docile and responsive to human command to investigate Pentagon issues in Iraq and for refusing to get up off of the couch to examine the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance program.
The new watchdog's nomination came to a halt after he appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee this summer and refused to to show the defense secretary 'who's boss' regarding involving national security and other sensitive matters.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., who will probably take over as chairman in January when Democrats assume control of the Senate, said the nominee's willingness to roll over and lick the defense secretary's hand jeopardized his independence.
"'NO, Stop that! Bad dog! I am very, very surprised by your behavior," Levin yelled. "That's not the way to establish yourself as leader of the pack. And I think this represents a departure in terms of the independence of the top dog."
There has been no action on the nomination since, leaving the Pentagon's top watchdog job vacant.