Congressman Duncan Hunter is a former Marine officer and the son of a veteran of the 75th Rangers during the Vietnam era, so nobody thinks he's a bad guy. But Congress can tell on even the best man, and recently he made the mistake of trying to set up General Odierno's staff to look either hapless or unconcerned about the fate of troops in the field. It provoked one of the most intense responses I've ever seen from a military officer testifying before Congress.
See for yourself. The issue at stake is the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A), which Rep. Hunter would like to derail in favor of a product produced by Palantir.
A lot of people have made much of the fact that Palantir is a Silicone Valley startup, and Rep. Hunter is from California. But Palantir is free to lobby Congressmen from their state, and Rep. Hunter is free to support a system he thinks is better for a constituent. That's part of our system.
What is improper is for a Congressman to compel a general officer to sit silently while that Congressman suggests he or his command are insensitive to the needs of the men in the field. To raise the suggestion is not itself bad, because Congress has a duty to oversee the military on just that point. What Rep. Hunter intended was to make the accusation without permitting a response, as he admits:
HUNTER: If you don’t let me say anything, we can’t have a conversation.
ODIERNO: Well, you weren’t gonna let us say anything.
HUNTER: Well, you — you’re right, but I have that prerogative when I’m sittin’ up here.
Rep. Hunter questioned the honor of every man and woman in General Odierno's command, and expected him to sit silently for it. The general refused to let the slander stand without objection. Good for him.