WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Well, it's official. America's fascination with bizarre legal investigations is now affecting our national security. For two weeks, the media has given more attention to lawyers, inquisitions, second-guessing and grandstanding politicians than to the War on Terror. Like the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which the cameras turned into a circus maximus before the bumbling Judge Lance Ito, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the so-called "9-11 Commission" are now competing with each other for the most outrageous barrage of bombast on the nightly news.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee, enamored with grand conspiracy theories worthy of Seymour Hersh and Oliver Stone, continued its public flagellation of the U.S. military. This week, the committee dragged Gen. John Abizaid, the head of Central Command, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, leader of coalition forces in Iraq, from the war zone to the bloodbath on Capitol Hill.
And in New York City, the highly politicized "9-11 Commission" set up shop at the New School University in Greenwich Village -- the institution lead by commission member and former Sen. Bob Kerrey -- and proceeded to pillory Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration, and New York City firefighters and police officers for not doing a better job in responding to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the "9-11 Commission" have mandates to serve the public good. Both have responsibilities to help ensure that the war -- and it is a war -- against Jihadist terrorists is prosecuted properly. Unfortunately, neither body seems capable of rising above petty personal self-service in fulfilling their responsibilities. Instead, members of both bodies have seized the moment to grandstand before the cameras.
On Capitol Hill, where grandstanding is an art form, senior politicians in both parties have engaged in appalling accusations against career military officers whose dedication and service are now forever tainted by the misconduct of a handful in Abu Ghraib prison. Rather than "getting to the bottom of this scandal" as the committee chairman claims, this week's hearings turned into a forum for wacko speculation in which protestors shouted down speakers, waved signs and emboldened our enemies. They are providing great ammunition for those who would have us withdraw from the War on Terror.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.