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Senate Democrats Plan Watchdog Hearings

Democrats in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate have announced they will launch investigative hearings into what they view as problems in the Bush administration.

Senate Democrats say the hearings are necessary because Senate Republicans have abdicated their responsibility for oversight of the administration's policies and use of taxpayer money.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota said the first hearing will be in January. He said a possible target of the hearings is alleged contract abuses in Iraq.

Other topics could include pre-war intelligence on Iraq and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

The Democratic-organized hearings will not have subpoena powers, but Senator Dorgan said he believes there will be "plenty of whistleblowers" ready to speak out against the administration.

When the new Congress convenes in January, Republicans will have an expanded majority of 55 senators, leaving Democrats with less influence.

Some information for this story provided by AP.