Iraq Special Inspector Stuart Bowen didn't just discuss his Maine junket yesterday before Congress. He also admitted, after some prodding, that between 2003 and 2006, "There wasn't enough [Iraq] oversight in general in that period of time." [Correction: See below.]
Bowen was responding to a question from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) about the paucity of hearings on Iraq contracting by the Governmental Affairs Committee--specifically, Sen. Collins' record of holding only a single hearing with a single witness during that timeframe.
In the video, Bowen first hems and haws. But then he goes out of his way to amend his hedged remarks, interrupting Lautenberg with the categorical statement above.
So here we have another close ally of Sen. Collins--a man who was willing to violate executive branch protocol to support her re-election--essentially admitting that Collins dropped the ball on Iraq oversight.
Collins can continue to make the case that she was just too busy to pursue the Iraq issue. She can continue to portray the interest in Iraq oversight by Lautenberg and others as partisan politics.
But those arguments are getting weaker by the day.
It's notable that the leader of the independent, non-partisan GAO dismissed Collins' position on Iraq oversight during his testimony. But my main point--that there had been slippage in the Collins camp on the oversight question--was clearly mistaken.
Collins Watch regrets the error.