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Watchdogs on the HillThe Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations$
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Linda L. Fowler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151618

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151618.001.0001

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Guarding the Guardians through Oversight

Guarding the Guardians through Oversight

(p.21) Chapter 1 Guarding the Guardians through Oversight
Watchdogs on the Hill

Linda L. Fowler

Princeton University Press

This chapter reviews previous scholarship about congressional scrutiny of the executive branch and about general patterns of legislative influence on foreign policy decisions. In the spring of 2004, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee proposed public hearings regarding the conduct and objectives of the Iraq War. A month later, Senator John Warner, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, scheduled two days of hearings to investigate abuse of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib Prison. The chapter examines the hearing activity of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees from 1947 to 2008 to assess the overall trends in oversight and identify similarities and differences in their behavior. It also considers what scholars know about congressional involvement in U.S. foreign policy, what they have concluded about oversight of national security more generally, and why these perspectives do not appear to fit together.

Keywords:   executive branch, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, public hearings, Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. foreign policy, national security oversight, Iraq War, Abu Ghraib Prison

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