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Monday
Feb012010

Load Pistol, Chamber One Round, Aim At Own Foot...

Well, the right side of the blog world is foaming at the mouth about the use of military transport by Speaker Pelosi's family members.  Judicial Watch kicked it off, Doug Ross added some froth, and those two have been cited by Hot Air and Instapundit, with the latter going for "if true, looks like a scandal" escalation points. 

Ross went hyperbolic with:

Pelosi must resign. Or she should be forcibly removed out of office. These activities, if not outright criminal, smell to high heaven.

There are only a few little problems with Ross' reasoning, and the hysterics of the right, on this particular issue.  Each of the travel documents reviewed by Judicial Watch cites DoD Directive 4515.12  or DoD Directive 4515.13R.  Note that I've provided links to those source documents, which none of the sources linked above felt the need to do.  Unlike Ross, or any of the rest of these frothers, I actually spent 10 minutes giving those directives a once-over...and, lo and behold, I discovered that the various service Secretaries, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force, the CNO, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps are permitted to authorize military travel for:

"C10.5.2.2. Dependents of members of the Congress and employees of the Congress, to permit them to accompany their principal in the 50 United States when essential to the proper accomplishment of the mission, desirable because of diplomatic or public relations, or necessary for the health of the individuals concerned. When reimbursement is appropriate, it shall be at the same rate as applicable to the principal."

That seems pretty clear to me; if it's good PR/diplomacy to have the Congresscritter's family with them, they can fly military air.  Furthermore, Judicial Watch had to correct Ross' wild assertion that Pelosi's family was traveling on military flights unaccompanied by the Speaker:

Mr. Ross,

We saw your analysis of the recent Pelosi flight documents Judicial Watch obtained from the Air Force.

Double-checking, we found documents we obtained last year on this issue. The other documents seem to show that the Speaker was on most if not all of the flights in question.

In short, they're all frothing--up to and including "if not criminal, smell to high heaven"--about something that Congresscritters routinely use, and which is explicitly authorized by DoD regulation. 

Whether this regulation should exist is a completely valid discussion, but the wild assertions that exercise of a specifically legal and proper privilege "stinks to high heaven," or hints that it might be criminal, are nothing more than froth.  Do some fact-checking, guys.  10 minutes' research isn't that tough...

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Reader Comments (13)

I note, with some amusement, that the same privileges can be accorded to the dependents of Congressional employees. Fly the family up for Family Day, since that's "official business"...535 Congresscritters, multiplied by at least a dozen staff members each, plus those folks in Congressional jobs unattached to particular Members...yeesh.

Personally, I'm all for junking this privilege in all cases save those where commercial travel is either unavailable or out of sync with the required schedule.

February 1, 2010 at 16:33 | Registered Commenterwesmorgan1

Please name Pelosi's "dependents".

February 1, 2010 at 23:57 | Unregistered Commenterbobinpa

For the Speaker I'm not sure this bothers me. This is the person who is third in line for the Presidency of the United States after all. From a National Security, order of succession stand point it makes sense for this person to use military aircraft. For Republicans this only becomes an issue when the Speaker is a Democrat.

I don't remember anybody complaining about these perks when Gingrich or Hastert was the Speaker. This is part of the endless effort by the right to avoid talking about issues and to smear Democrats at all costs.

February 2, 2010 at 00:18 | Registered CommenterkwAwk

Of course it doesn't bother you KW, after all we aren't talking Newt Gingrich here. Otherwise......................

Defend the bitch all you want wes, on the legalities/technicalities of the matter, it still shows just how brazenly deserving this f**kup congresswonam thinks she is in the midst of what are very hard time for a big part of the rest of the country. There is NO honor in this kind of behavior. Oh wait a minute, did I say honor, whasat????

February 2, 2010 at 08:34 | Unregistered CommenterTijuana

Wes;

Nancy Pelosi epitomizes the term "limousine liberal." Anyone who can spend a million bucks on food, drink and lodging in two days should NEVER again be considered a serious source for anything. She's a joke. Sadly and frighteningly, as you point out, she is third in-line for the presidency.

February 2, 2010 at 09:08 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Miller

"Between 1789 and 2008, the U.S. government borrowed
a total of $5.8 trillion. But in just the first three years of the
Obama administration, the government is set borrow $4.4 trillion
more."

Not to worry nancy, there's more where this came from. Where ever that is.

February 2, 2010 at 10:28 | Unregistered CommenterTijuana

Once again, TM and Tijuana, you miss the point.

If you want to argue that this sort of privilege for dependents should be abolished, I'll pretty much agree with you. (At the very least, let's get dependents of Congressional employees off the list.) The point is that taking something completely legal (and specifically authorized) and screaming "SHE SHOULD RESIGN," or suggesting that the actions are criminal, is nothing more than fact-free froth.

Of course, folks have been lying on this point for a long time. Here's one from over a year ago:

During the segment, Hannity said to Gingrich: "With all of this news and all of this outrage over the auto CEOs and private jets, et cetera, et cetera, here's what we discovered today -- that Princess Nancy Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader] Prince Harry Reid [D-NV] and every member of Congress during these tough economic times, they're going to get $4,700 in a pay increase. Nobody's mad that Nancy Pelosi has her private jet. You didn't have a private jet as speaker of the House." Co-host Alan Colmes later stated: "[O]n the private plane for Nancy Pelosi: She was advised after 9-11, as I understand it, for security reasons, to -- that she needed to have the private plane." Gingrich responded: "That's baloney. That is just baloney. Denny Hastert did not get a private plane. There's no reason for anyone but the president and vice president of the United States to have that level of security."
Actually, Hastert DID start using military transport after 9/11 (taking his chief of staff and deputy COS with him on many occasions), with the approval of the White House, but why let facts get in the way of attacking the opposition? That's like all the fuss about the size of the plane Pelosi requested; the blowhards said she wanted a "luxury jet," but what she requested was a plane with range sufficient to go nonstop. (If you have to have a refueling stop, you might as well fly a commercial nonstop if time is important.)


Just for fun, how do you think these things compare to, say, dispatching military planes to collect Congressmen for nothing more than a press conference to defuse a sex scandal?

February 2, 2010 at 10:50 | Registered Commenterwesmorgan1

""C10.5.2.2. Dependents of members of the Congress and employees of the Congress, to permit them to accompany their principal in the 50 United States when essential to the proper accomplishment of the mission, desirable because of diplomatic or public relations, or necessary for the health of the individuals concerned."

As I recall, the scandal is that these people were flown on their own, unaccompanied by the Speaker. This is in violation of DoD Directive 4515.12 Enclosure 2 Section 3 (b):
"(b) Spouses and/or family members required for protocol purposes will NOT:
1. Charge the USG for costs associated with this separation, such as billeting, per diem, etc.
2. Travel on military airlift without the CODEL."

CODEL = congressional travel program comprised of congressional delegations (CODELs),

If the requests were for travel with the speaker or if there is some clause which negates the above provision then it's a case of "it's outrageous that it's legal." If it was a violation she should remove herself.

*All emphesis are mine, the "NOT" was in caps in source document..

February 2, 2010 at 13:37 | Unregistered Commenterbrainy435

And the point I forgot to add:

The response to this is that "The other documents seem to show that the Speaker was on most if not all of the flights in question."

So does it "seem" she was on the flights, or was she on them? Was she on all the flights or "most" of them? That would be the actual information needed to discover if the flights were in violation of the directive or not.

February 2, 2010 at 13:54 | Unregistered Commenterbrainy435

CODELs have different regs than do other instances of travel. If you look at the requests highlighted by Ross, all but one of them were authorized under 4515.13R. There is no "will not travel without" restriction in 4515.13R. I think that's the key difference. You can be flown somewhere to accompany "the principal" to an event--in other words, "meet them there"--without the principal being present. If the Congresscritter is going from DC to Chicago for an event and the spouse in Florida is to accompany them (as authorized under the regs), does the Congresscritter have to make a trip to Florida to pick them up (thus incurring additional costs), or does the spouse catch a military flight to meet them in Chicago? The latter seems to make more sense.

It's something of a moot point for now, anyway; Judicial Watch corrected Ross and stated that Pelosi was on "most, if not all" the flights. Ross now states that it's "being researched." It's a shame he didn't do the research first.

February 2, 2010 at 14:02 | Registered Commenterwesmorgan1

So does it "seem" she was on the flights, or was she on them? Was she on all the flights or "most" of them? That would be the actual information needed to discover if the flights were in violation of the directive or not.
Well, at face value, the regulations only require the Member's presence when spouses/family members accompany a CODEL (DoD 4515.12), so that's one case out of those for which we've been shown the requests.


In any case, you make a valid point about the "actual information" we need - and that's what should have been done before the article was ever published, don't you think?

February 2, 2010 at 14:05 | Registered Commenterwesmorgan1

From now on I'm letting brainy435 do all my deep thinkin'.

February 2, 2010 at 15:18 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Miller

Wes;

Your so deep in the woods on this one you miss the point; with a $1.6 trillion dollar deficit it rubs people the wrong way in a BIG way that Pelosi's entourage spent $1,000,000 in two days on food, drinks and lodging. It's not that she used government planes.

Are sack lunches for Pelosi and her entourage beneath them?

February 2, 2010 at 15:22 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Miller

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