17 December 2009 - Assembly Members Respond to Characterization of US Congressional Participation in Edinburgh Session
An article in the on-line edition of the Wall Street Journal of 16 December 2009 (“Congress Travels More, Public Pays”) has generated strong reactions from Assembly members. It examines in detail the travel costs of the US Congressional Delegation for attending the Annual Session of the NATO PA in Edinburgh this past November and implies that the taxpayer’s money was misspent. However, the article pays no attention to the substance or newsworthy aspects of the Session itself that would enable readers to decide for themselves if their representative’s presence at the Session was worth the expense.
“It is particularly disappointing that the Wall Street Journal chose to focus exclusively on the cost of the
The Annual Session in
Speakers at the Annual Session included NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rassmussen, the Supreme Allied Commander of US and NATO forces in Europe Admiral James Stavridis,
Jean-Michel Boucheron, Vice-President of the NATO PA said, "The attendance of members of the US Congress is necessary to our debates in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I fear that controversial articles such as this one can discourage our American colleagues from crossing the Atlantic to discuss strategic questions with their Allies." The members of the US delegation play a significant role in the structure of the Assembly. Congressman John Tanner is currently the Assembly’s President, and many US delegates play active roles on the Assembly’s Committees and Sub-Committees
“The main purpose of the NATO PA is to bring together legislators from both sides of the Atlantic and we would be ineffective if the US delegation is unable to travel because of this sort of negative publicity,” stressed Sven Mikser, Vice President of the NATO PA. “With the challenges we face as an Alliance , we need this sort of dialogue now more than ever."