WASHINGTON (CNN) - Citing the need to restore public trust in an inefficient and allegedly corrupt military procurement process, a new government commission Monday officially began hearings to account for billions of taxpayer dollars misspent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Every interested American knows that there was rampant fraud, waste, and abuse following the invasion of Iraq," Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, said at the opening hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They all know it, and they want us to demonstrate that we're willing to do something about it not simply in terms of process but in terms of accountability."
The seven-member commission begins its work as the U.S. military prepares to cut troop levels in Iraq, but strengthen its presence in Afghanistan, where Taliban and al-Qaeda elements have made gains in recent years.
ROANOKE, Virginia (CNN) – Introducing Barack Obama at a Friday campaign event, Virginia Senator Jim Webb questioned John McCain’s vice presidential pick and said it was a decision the Republican nominee now probably regrets.
“Do you really think that Sarah Palin is the most qualified person in the Republican Party?” asked Webb. “I don’t know how many people here like country music? I like country music. There’s a song about two years ago it was called ‘I know what I was doing but what was I thinking?’ I think John McCain is probably singing that song right now,” he added, referring to the Dierks Bentley tune “What was I thinking?”
“If you’re trying to talk to friends about clear distinctions in terms of judgment, temperament, vision, this is something you can really ask them to take a look at,” he said.
Webb said the choice of a running mate was the one real window into the kind of judgment a future president would exhibit in office. He said he did not really “understand the process” by which McCain picked Governor Palin but said Obama’s choice of Biden was “thoughtful,” and Biden is “capable in a moment of stepping forward” into the presidency.
“I watched the vice presidential debate and I thought Joe Biden did a very good job and at the beginning f the debate Governor Palin turned around and said ‘nice to meet you can I call you Joe’ and I was thinking Joe what you really ought to do is say ‘yeah, you can call me whatever you want - in two months you can call me Mr. Vice President,’” Webb said.
The junior senator said southwestern Virginia voters can “trust [Obama]” - and that the “Karl Rove” type campaign going on against him has gotten tough.
“What they do is they say that person is not like you that person doesn’t understand you,” he said. “There’s a lot of comments that have been made about certain ethnic issues in this campaign, and I would like to say we know Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya. Barack Obama’s mother was born in Kansas by way of Kentucky. We’re going to see on Election Day the election of the 44th President of the United States, whose ancestry and whose family line goes back to the mountains of this area.”
(CNN) - You can officially scratch off Sen. Jim Webb's name from the list of Barack Obama's potential running mates.
The freshmen senator from Virginia and onetime Republican said unequivocally Monday he does not want to be the Illinois senator's No. 2.
"Last week I communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate, where I believe I am best equipped to serve the people of Virginia and this country," Webb said in an issued statement. “Under no circumstances will I be a candidate for Vice President."
Webb, a moderate Democrat and Vietnam veteran who successfully unseated former Virginia Sen. George Allen in 2006, has often been mentioned as a potential VP choice given his likely appeal in more conservative states, his early opposition to the Iraq war, and his credibility with military issues.
Election Center: Who's on the VP shortlists?
The Virginia senator also co-sponsored the Senate G.I. benefits bill passed this spring that seeks to increase tuition reimbursements for veterans. Despite an initial veto threat, President Bush signed the bill into law last week.
"I entered elective politics because of my commitment to strengthen America's national security posture, to promote economic fairness, and to increase government accountability," Webb also said. "I have worked hard to deliver upon that commitment, and I am convinced that my efforts and talents toward those ends are best served in the Senate."
Webb did not endorse a Democratic candidate during the primary season. Fellow Virginians Tim Kaine, the state’s governor, and Mark Warner, a former governor who is currently running for Senate, were also considered to be on in contention for the VP slot. Warner also took himself out of the running last month.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia – someone widely considered to be on the shortlist as a possible running mate with Sen. Barack Obama – again defended his views on the Confederacy during an interview with CNN’s John Roberts.
Webb has argued in an essay, his book, and in a 1990 speech that the issue of state sovereignty rather than slavery was the "driving issue" for Confederate soldiers in fighting in the Civil War.
Many historians, however, have argued that slavery, not states’ rights, was the motivating force behind the Civil War.
In his interview with CNN, Webb said his comments about the Confederacy were as a historian dealing with a complex subject.
"Only 5 percent of the whites owned slaves in the height of slavery," Webb said. "The people in the North were never asked to give up their slaves even with the Emancipation Proclamation.
"Looking at military service as a citizen during that time, the issue was loyalty to your community, the same way it is when people are being sent to Iraq today," Webb said. "And that's a complicated issue. It's being obviously simplified in some form but I'm happy to discuss it and comfortable with my views on it."
Webb was criticized for his views on the Confederacy during his Senate run in 2006. Now that Webb’s name is being circulated as a potential running mate, the blogosphere is again raising concerns that Webb may be unacceptable to voters if invited to join the Democratic ticket.
The Virginia Democrat is seen as an attractive complement to Sen. Obama given his opposition to the Iraq war and strong national security credentials. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and a former secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, however, said during his CNN interview that he was not seeking his party's vice presidential nomination.