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Nobel Laureate president defends unprovoked war against Syria: Obama Offers No Evidence Assad Ordered Syria Poison Gas Attack

By Dave Lindorff


In what NPR called “perhaps President Obama’s last best chance” to make his case for launching a war against Syria, the president tellingly didn’t make a single effort to present hard, compelling evidence to prove that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had been behind the alleged Sarin Aug. 21 attack on residents of a suburb of Damascus.


Not one piece of evidence.

A people’s victory over Syrian attack plan: In Historic First, American Empire is Blocked at the Starting Line

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s be clear here. The people of the US and the world have won a huge victory over a war-obsessed US government and an administration that was hell-bent on yet again launching a criminal war of aggression against a country that poses no threat to the US or its neighbors. Overwhelming public opposition in the US and the nations of Europe, as well as most of the rest of the world to a US strike on Syria have forced the US to falter and to accept the idea of a compromise deal offered by Russia.


Senate's Bipartisan Top War-Mongers Drafting Unconstitutional Conditional War Declaration

They're drafting a bill that would declare war on Syria IF chemical weapons removal doesn't meet a deadline, and regardless of what else happens in the world in the meantime, presumably including a ceasefire or a peace settlement.  Are they insane? Of course. Can we stop them? Yes we can.

The Other Super Power Is Winning

It's not Russia.  It's not al Qaeda.  It's not Bashar al-Assad.  The other super power is the people of the world -- and the people of, but not by or for, the United States.

The world's people are protesting.  U.S. citizens abroad are protesting at U.S. embassies.  The British Parliament said no to war for the first time since Yorktown. 

The U.S. polls began with single-digit support for attacking Syria, climbed a little with the corporate media onslaught, and then started sinking again as the propaganda push shifted into self-defeating top gear.

Taking the stage after Colin Powell, the Obama-Kerry war marketing team was compelled by public pressure, foreign pressure, government-insider pressure, past public statements, and the inability of even the corporate media to keep a straight face, to take this war proposal to Congress -- and to do so while Congress members and senators were at home in their districts and states, where people were able to get in their faces.

Congress has been feeling the heat.  Sure, there is greater willingness by some Republican members to oppose a war if the president is a Democrat.  But there are also Democrats openly supporting the war because the president wants them to.  The decisive factor has been public pressure.  Senators and representatives have been turned around by their constituents, and that minority still supporting an attack on Syria openly says they're defying the people who elected them.  If there is no vote in Congress, it will be because the vote would fail.

Now is the time for Congress and the president to hear our voices more loudly than ever.

Secretary Kerry stressed on Monday that he hadn't been serious about a diplomatic solution.  It was just "rhetoric." He was just pointing out the "impossibility" of Assad handing weapons over.  He didn't want anyone to take it seriously.  Not when we have to get a war started. Not when the clock is ticking and he has already Colin-Powelled himself in front of his old committee with his wife behind him and protesters with bloody hands filling the room and everybody snickering when he claimed al Qaeda would install a secular democracy. Not after all THAT!

How can you ask a man to be the last one to lie for a dead idea?

But warmongering senators and presidents and presidential wannabes jumped at the chance of a way out of watching Congress vote down a war, and watching Congress vote down a war because we made them do it.  Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee has a proposal for a diplomatic resolution.  Republican Congressman Chris Smith has proposed a United Nations war crimes tribunal.  (One might hope it will even look at the crimes of both sides in the Syrian war.)  The always obvious, but hidden, fact that there are alternatives to bombing people is bursting out all over.

Sure, some people dislike this war because it would cost money, or because the Iraqis are ungrateful for the destruction of their country, or because Obama was born in Africa, but mostly people oppose this war for very good reasons -- and the financial cost is not really a bad reason.  From right to left, people don't think the United States should be the world's vigilante.  From left to right, people don't believe the justifications presented without evidence.  From right to left, people understand that killing people with the right weapons to protest their being killed with the wrong weapons is little bit crazy.  From left to right, people don't believe tales of short and easy wars that will pay for themselves.  And, across the political spectrum, people have begun to be able to smell lies, even when those lies are wrapped in flags and uniforms.

We should give our government credit for listening -- if it listens.  By no means are we out of the woods yet.  If you want to be able to say you were part of the movement that prevented a U.S. war, now is the time to email and telephone and join in activities.  We should not, however, fantasize that our government secretly held our position against the war it was trying to roll out, before we compelled it to hold our position. 

Let them thump their chests a bit about how their threats won something out of Assad, if that allows their war fever to pass.  But don't for a minute lose the significance of what the U.S. public has done to the otherwise broken U.S. government.  Out of whatever combination of factors, it just may turn out that we've stopped a war.  Which means that we can stop another war.  Which means that we can begin to work our way out of the war machine that has eaten our economy, our civil liberties, our natural environment, and our soul.

Assad may be lying.  Or Obama may lie that Assad is lying.  Or this whole thing may otherwise fall apart and the push for this war be back with a full-court press on Congress.  But we can stop it if we choose to do so.  We can push as hard for peaceful solutions in Syria as we've pushed to prevent the bombs from falling.  In fact, we can push 10 times harder.

And the warmakers will be back with another war.  Have no fear of that.  Seriously, have no fear of it: We are a super-power.  They are a vestige of a barbaric practice that has become an anachronism even while remaining our largest public investment.  They are dinosaurs.  They'll come back with a "defensive war".  That was their biggest failure this time; they didn't make Syria a threat.  Senator Harry Reid on Monday painted Syria as Nazi Germany, but he sounded like Elmer Fudd warning of a killer rabbit.

Laughter is our most potent tool.  We must mock their fear-mongering.  We must laugh at their claims of power and benevolent intent.  We must ask to see the list of nations that are grateful for past bombs.  We must inquire whether senators who play video poker while debating war plans, or secretaries of state who promise wars that will be both tiny and significant with no impact and a decisive result, are perhaps in need of better medication.

But let's not count our doves before they hatch.  Get in on this successful movement now.  It's going to be one to tell your grandchildren about.

Kerry Couldn't Sell a Used Car

After Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that President Bashar al-Assad avoid a war by handing over any chemical weapons his government possesses, Russia quickly seconded the motion, and Assad agreed to it.  Just as quickly, aparently panicked by the possible delay or prevention of missile strikes, Kerry's staff put out this statement:

"Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.  His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment."

Could Assad be lying?  Could he hope to stash away a hidden weapons stockpile? Yes, and then at least a U.S. attack would have been delayed and more time gained to work on preventing it.  But that's not likely.  Inspectors are very good.  That's why Prsident George W. Bush wanted them pulled out of Iraq, where they had done a stellar job and the weaponry been eliminated.  That could conceivably also be why President Barack Obama wanted them kept away from the site of the August 21st attack and wanted to send missiles into Syria before the inspectors reached any results.

So, to all appearances, Assad has immediately done what Kerry just declared impossible.  How reliable, then, are other assertions of which Kerry professes to be certain?

Is it really an important international norm that one nation should bomb another in support of fanatical terrorists and on the stated basis that people had been killed with the wrong variety of weapon?

Is it really true that this war will be both unbelievably small and a significant blow to the Syrian government?

Kerry is trying to sell the same used car to people who want an ambulance and other people who want a tank.

Nobody's buying.

It's not entirely Kerry's fault that he had to come on stage after Colin Powell's performance, but it is his fault that he's flubbed all of his lines.

If Obama withdraws his demand for Congressional authorization of war, it will not be because he and John Kerry played 12-dimensional chess and secretly hope to bring peace to the earth.  It will be because they played duck-duck-goose with such incompetence that they managed to knock each other unconscious in the process.

If a war is prevented here -- and it's way too early to say that -- it will be the result of public opinion in the United States and the world, the courage of Parliament in Britain, and the glimmerings of actual representation beginning to sparkle through the muck and slime on Capitol Hill.

If celebrating Obama and Kerry's super brave and strong heroism in stumbling into a Russian barrier to their madness gives them the "credibility" to put their guns back in their pants, then by all means celebrate that fiction.

But if we get this crisis behind us, we should understand that Parliament acted against war for the first time in centuries, and the public stopped Congress for the first time ever.  If President Obama doesn't ask for an authorization, it will be because it is not going to pass.  Even if he didn't expect to use it right away, he would want it passed if possible. 

Congress' apparent willingness to say no is the result of many factors, including the perversity of partisanship.  But the primary factor is public pressure.  That public pressure needs to intensify now that victory is in sight, not diminish.

And if it succeeds, Syria will still be in desperate need of a cease-fire, disarmament, a peace settlement, and actual aid (as opposed to humanitarian bombs).  Let's not allow those needs to be forgotten if they depart from our television screens.  Those same television screens have tried to move us into support for war and failed dramatically.  We're in charge now.  We run this country. They fill fluff that no one listens to into the spaces between advertisements for crap no one buys.  Fill the government in on the new arrangement.

Progressive Caucus Sends 67 Questions to Obama on Syria

The questions include some excellent and some awful ones.  Here they are:

CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS

September 6, 2013

President Barack Obama The White House

Liberal Luminaries in Senate Are Swing Votes on Bombing Syria

By Norman Solomon

Many senators began this week still uncommitted on whether they’ll vote for attacking Syria. Among the fence-sitters are enough “progressives” to swing the Senate’s decision one way or the other.

That decision is coming soon -- maybe as early as Wednesday -- and the Obama White House is now pulling out all the stops to counter public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly against a war resolution. The administration hopes to win big in the Senate and carry momentum into the House, where the bomb-Syria agenda faces a steeper climb.

Some Democratic senators who’ve cultivated progressive reputations nationwide -- Barbara Boxer of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota -- haven’t hesitated to dive into Obama’s war tank. Boxer, Durbin and Franken quickly signed on as carnage bottom-feeders, pledging their adamant support for the U.S. government to attack yet another country.

Other Democrats, like Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico, have made clear their intention to vote “no” when the war-on-Syria measure reaches the Senate floor.

But more than a dozen other senators widely viewed as liberal or progressive have held back from committing themselves on how they’ll vote. Here’s a partial list of those equivocators:

     *  Both Massachusetts senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey

     *  Both Oregon senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

     *  Both Colorado senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet

     *  Both Washington senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell

     *  Ohio senator Sherrod Brown

     *  Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin

     *  Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse

     *  Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono

     *  Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar

If you live in one of those states, or anywhere else in the USA for that matter, you can send a quick email to your senators and representative to tell them “No Attack on Syria” by clicking here.

Perhaps no “undecided” stance from senators is more egregious than the one from Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, who won a hard-fought race that elevated her from the House of Representatives last year on the strength of major progressive support.

Speaking at the annual Fighting Bob Fest in Madison last weekend, Baldwin sparked an angry response to her doubletalk about Syria. A video of the encounter shows a wooden politician who badly needs reminding of her progressive roots. In a suitably confrontational mode, activists serenaded Wisconsin’s junior senator with a stirring rendition of “Which side are you on Tammy?”

The symbolism could hardly have been more apt. Senator Baldwin was behind the podium at an event named after “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the senator from Wisconsin who led opposition to U.S. entry into World War One. In a Senate speech, La Follette denounced those who “inflame the mind of our people into the frenzy of war.”

Which side are you on Tammy… and Elizabeth, Ed, Ron, Jeff, Mark, Michael, Patty, Maria, Sherrod, Sheldon, Mazie, Amy?

Senators who portray themselves as progressive are at crossroads as they decide how to vote on attacking Syria. At this historic moment, with enormous consequences, will they cave in to the presidential juggernaut?

Later this week, senators will vote about launching a war on Syria. We’ve got to let them know -- right away -- that we are watching very closely. And will not forgive or forget any vote for war on the Senate floor.

 

 

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

Lee Syria Resolution to Hold Assad Regime Accountable and Resolve the Crisis through a Negotiated Political Settlement

Support Forceful Diplomacy, Not Military Force

Dear Colleague:

I write to urge your support for my proposal which lays out non-military options the United States can pursue, in partnership with the international community, that is consistent with law and would hold perpetrators accountable for heinous crimes against humanity.

While I believe the Assad regime must be held accountable, I reject that it has to mean a military response to be effective. There is no military solution to this complex civil war, and while a negotiated settlement is necessary, I do not believe military action will further that goal.

Instead of pursuing military force, United States policy should focus on working with the United Nations and the international community on an enhanced diplomatic strategy to facilitate a negotiated political settlement and hold the Assad regime, and all responsible parties, accountable for human rights violations. My Resolution lays out options such as:

1) requiring the Government of Syria to allow unfettered access to humanitarian organizations;

2) pressuring all internal and external parties to participate urgently and constructively in the Geneva process and other negotiations and regional arrangements with the League of Arab States and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation;

3) seeking to strengthen and coordinate multilateral sanctions targeted against the assets of Assad;

4) investigating and prosecuting crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law, including appropriately-timed International Criminal Court referral;

5) working with member states of the Chemical Weapons Convention;

6) working with the international community to establish a Syrian war crimes tribunal; and

7) enabling United States courts to investigate and prosecute crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law committed in Syria.

We must recognize that we do have alternatives to the use of force and we should be vigorously pursuing them. I urge you in joining me to support non-military means to hold the perpetrators accountable and bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

Please direct requests to cosponsor or questions to _________________.

Sincerely,

BARBARA LEE

White House lies to launch the next illegal war: There is no Justification for Obama’s War on Syria

By Dave Lindorff 


The Obama administration’s campaign for war against Syria is so flagrantly wrong, so ill-advised and so illegal, that it is making a fool of both the president and his secretary of state, John Kerry.


The Bill Congress Should Pass Instead of War

By David Swanson

Here's a preliminary draft of what the United States Congress could pass this week if it were sincerely interested in human rights, international norms, the rule of law, and peace in Syria.  You are welcome to suggest it to your Congress members, who are more than welcome to tinker with it.  You might also share it with any friends or uncles or neighbors who demand to know: "If you're against missile strikes then what are you in favor of?" Send me any suggested changes.

 

Non-Lethal Aid to Syria

Joint Resolution

 

No Military Solution

Sec. 1

a) The Congress does not authorize military action or support of military action in Syria, and such action by the Central Intelligence Agency and any other agencies of the United States must cease immediately.

b) The United States respects the position of the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, as parts of the Supreme Law of the Land.  The United States will not violate these treaties by military action or threat of military action against Syria.

Chemical Weapons

Sec. 2

a) The United States will encourage Syria, as well as Egypt, Israel, Angola, North Korea, and South Sudan to ratify and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention.

b) The United States will eliminate in the swiftest manner that safety allows the entirety of its own chemical weapons stockpiles, and urge other nations, including Russia, to do the same.

c) The United States will forthwith cease to maintain or make use of as weapons: white phosphorous, depleted uranium, or any form of napalm, and will assist Iraq in its recovery from their use.

d) The Congress urges the president to sign the United States on as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

e) The United States will forward to the UN Security Council and to the prosecutor of the ICC all evidence of violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

f) The United States will urge the United Nations to send human rights monitors to Syria.

Humanitarian Aid

Sec. 3

a) The United States will transfer 1% of the current year's Department of Defense budget to non-military aid programs for Syrian refugees and those suffering as a result of war in Syria and around the world.

De-Escalation

Sec. 4

a) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and all other nations to cease providing arms and ammunition, or funding for arms and ammunition, to fighters in Syria on both sides of the war.

b) The United States will diplomatically urge Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and others involved to urge the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government to establish a cease-fire. The United States will use all available pressure, including ceasing to itself provide arms to nations involved.

c) The United States will work with the international community to bring both sides in the Syrian civil war to a neutral negotiating table, with no pre-conditions.

Serrano: “I Cannot Vote For War”

The Bronx, NY – September 5, 2013 – Congressman José E. Serrano released the following statement today on the potential resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria, which the Obama Administration has asked Congress to consider.

"I have grave doubts about the wisdom of involving our nation in another war in the Middle East. I cannot vote in favor of this authorization because I believe that the outcome of strikes on Syria is unpredictable, and unlikely to be in our nation’s interests. I fear setting off a chain of events which leads to American soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East yet again, for reasons that are not clear and persuasive.

“I commend President Obama for correctly bringing this issue of war before the Congress. Whether we agree or disagree with him on this issue, it is a welcome change to have a President with a deep belief in our constitutional system.

“The use of chemical weapons is morally reprehensible, as is the targeting of civilians with any sort of weapons. I believe the best reaction would be a broad multilateral response from the international community—not just an American enforcement action. The world must show its outrage, not just America.

“I have thought long and hard about this decision and have come to the firm conclusion that I cannot vote in favor of war. I will continue to work to find alternatives that deter the use of chemical weapons on civilians. I believe such alternatives exist and should be used.”

Talk Nation Radio: Rep. Alan Grayson on Syria: House Will Vote No, Obama Will Heed

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rep-alan

Congressman Alan Grayson is leading efforts within Congress to prevent an attack on Syria. He explains why, points to huge popular agreement, says the votes are lining up, and that President Obama will not attack Syria if the House votes against it.  Congressman Grayson has a petition set up at http://DontAttackSyria.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Calls to Congress 499 to 1 against Syria war

By Garth Kant and Chelsea Schilling
http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/calls-to-congress-244-to-1-against-syria-war/

Americans are slamming at least 24 members of Congress with thousands of phone calls and emails, urging lawmakers not to approve a military strike on Syria by a margin of as much as 499 to 1.

A national debate is raging on Twitter. Tweets and statements from members of Congress both Democrat and Republican show tremendously strong opposition to President Obama’s call for an air strike on Syria:

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., tweeted, “Calls and emails from my constituents is 100 to 1 AGAINST getting involved in Syria. The American people are speaking.”

Congressman Robert Hurt (R., Va.) Not Convinced by Case to Attack Syria

Here in rural Virginia, we switch between Democrats and Republicans, but they all vote for war ... until now.  Our recently unseated Congress member, Tom Periello, is rallying humanitarian warriors to bomb nations because we care.  His replacement, Robert Hurt, met with a group of constituents on Thursday and indicated that he had "grave, grave concerns" about voting for any attack on Syria.

Hurt said he was inclined to believe that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on the 21st and that it was indeed "horrific."  "That being said, I have grave concerns about going into Syria," Hurt said at the meeting in his Charlottesville, Va., office, which was attended by constituents from across the political spectrum, many of whom had held a forum the night before (video). Also attending Thursday's meeting were camera crews from NBC Channel 29 and Newsplex Channel 19/16/27.

Hurt said it was "the responsibility of the President and proponents of a war to make a clear and compelling case that it would be in the national security interest of the United States. And I have not seen that."

"We've learned what it means to be in a protracted struggle in the Middle East," he said.  He said he had not seen, and would need to see, a clear objective, a way to achieve it, and a plan for getting out again. 

Hurt said that during the past two weeks he had heard from many constituents, and that they were "absolutely overwhelmingly" against an attack on Syria. 

"How does our going in do anything other than make it worse?" he asked.  He also said that he was against half-measures that aren't all-in.

Hurt said that he would have to answer to his constituents and members of the military, and military family members, and be able to look them in the eye and say that the loss of their loved one was "worth it." 

Asked if he would move to raise taxes to pay for this war and other recent wars if he voted for this one, Hurt said, "That's an excellent point," and suggested that the greatest threat to national security may be the national debt.

Hurt did not commit to voting No, but rather said he would go to Washington, look at the classified materials, and hear out the war proponents. 

But, of course, he is not going to hear that Syria is a threat to the United States or that there is an exit plan or that the war will cost no money.

The Congressman also said that the Constitution required that the House vote on any war.  It is to be hoped that if that vote is denied, a majority of members including Hurt will force a vote over the preference of the Speaker and the Democratic Leader.

Congressman Robert Hurt (R., Va.) Not Convinced by Case to Attack Syria

Here in rural Virginia, we switch between Democrats and Republicans, but they all vote for war ... until now.  Our recently unseated Congress member, Tom Periello, is rallying humanitarian warriors to bomb nations because we care.  His replacement, Robert Hurt, met with a group of constituents on Thursday and indicated that he had "grave, grave concerns" about voting for any attack on Syria.

Hurt said he was inclined to believe that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack on the 21st and that it was indeed "horrific."  "That being said, I have grave concerns about going into Syria," Hurt said at the meeting in his Charlottesville, Va., office, which was attended by constituents from across the political spectrum, many of whom had held a forum the night before (video). Also attending Thursday's meeting were camera crews from NBC Channel 29 and Newsplex Channel 19/16/27.

Hurt said it was "the responsibility of the President and proponents of a war to make a clear and compelling case that it would be in the national security interest of the United States. And I have not seen that."

"We've learned what it means to be in a protracted struggle in the Middle East," he said.  He said he had not seen, and would need to see, a clear objective, a way to achieve it, and a plan for getting out again. 

Hurt said that during the past two weeks he had heard from many constituents, and that they were "absolutely overwhelmingly" against an attack on Syria. 

"How does our going in do anything other than make it worse?" he asked.  He also said that he was against half-measures that aren't all-in.

Hurt said that he would have to answer to his constituents and members of the military, and military family members, and be able to look them in the eye and say that the loss of their loved one was "worth it." 

Asked if he would move to raise taxes to pay for this war and other recent wars if he voted for this one, Hurt said, "That's an excellent point," and suggested that the greatest threat to national security may be the national debt."

Hurt did not commit to voting No, but rather said he would go to Washington, look at the classified materials, and hear out the war proponents. 

But, of course, he is not going to hear that Syria is a threat to the United States or that there is an exit plan or that the war will cost no money.

The Congressman also said that the Constitution required that the House vote on any war.  It is to be hoped that if that vote is denied, a majority of members including Hurt will force a vote over the preference of the Speaker and the Democratic Leader.

"Frackademia" By Law: Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 Exposed

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

With the school year starting for many this week, it's another year of academia for professors across the United States - and another year of "frackademia" for an increasingly large swath of "frackademics" under federal law. 

"Frackademia" is best defined as flawed but seemingly legitimate science and economic studies on the controversial oil and gas horizontal drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), but done with industry funding and/or industry-tied academics ("frackademics"). 

Congress Members Hope to Tweak Obama's War Demands Before Authorizing

Need to Amend Text of Syria Resolution

From: The Honorable Brad Sherman
Sent By:

Date: 9/2/2013

Dear Colleague: 

As you know, the President has delayed military action against Syria to allow for Congress to consider a resolution approving the use of force.  The President has released the proposed text of such a resolution. 

Whether you support the President’s call for limited use of force in Syria, or are opposed to any military force, we should not simply consider and vote on the text submitted by the President.  While the action the President has proposed is only in the air for a short duration, the text he has proposed is unlimited.  In fact, it would authorize boots-on-the-ground for an undetermined duration.  Accordingly, we should consider amendments, including those that limit the scope and duration of the authorization. 

While I support granting authority for the President to do what he has proposed, namely conduct limited operations designed to punish and deter the use of chemical weapons, his proposed resolution allows him to use whatever force he deems necessary, for as long as he deems necessary, so long as there is some connection to weapons of mass destruction. 

I trust the President when he says that he plans a very limited military action.  Congress should give him the authority to carry out that limited plan.  We do not need to give the President a blank check just to show our respect for him.  We can authorize limited action now, and consider additional authorization on an expedited basis in the weeks to come.

I am proposing two amendments to the President’s resolution (see below). First, the authorization should be for no more than 60 days.  Any further use of force beyond the 60 days should require an additional resolution, one that can be considered pursuant to the expedited procedures provided for in the War Powers Resolution. 

Second, the President has made clear he does not want to introduce ground forces to Syria.  Any resolution we pass should explicitly state that it does not authorize ground action, except limited action to rescue American personnel. 

I urge you to support a process in which these amendments, and those proposed by others, can be debated and voted on.  I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues with you.  I will be in my office Tuesday.  My cell phone number is available from Siamak Kordestani, who can be reached at                        and Mr. Kordestani is available during the weekend to discuss these issues with your staff.

Sincerely,

BRAD SHERMAN

Sherman Amendments to Syria Resolution

Amendment I

Nothing in this resolution authorizes any military action undertaken more than sixty days after enactment.  Congress shall consider a resolution to authorize the use of force, beyond that authorized by this Resolution, pursuant to the procedures described in Section 6 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

Amendment II

Nothing in this resolution authorizes the deployment of ground forces in Syria, except for limited efforts to rescue American personnel.

Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus

Back in 2007, the Congressional Progressive Caucus helped organize 90 Congress members to commit to voting against war funding.  Most of them turned around and voted for war funding.  That was a high point for the CPC.  Since then, its commitments -- such as to vote against corporate healthcare -- have hardly been taken seriously, and so it's hardly been news when most members have gone back on their commitments.

The CPC has shifted in recent years away from pretending to take a stand on things, and instead toward issuing statements full of non-committal rhetoric.  That, too, is now a stage in the devolution of the CPC to which we can look back with nostalgia.

The CPC, on the question of a new war on Syria, is choosing to do nothing at all.  In fact, one of its two co-chairs is actively promoting war.  Compare this whip list with this list of CPC members.  You'll notice that virtually no members of the House of Representatives have taken any position on whether or not to attack Syria.  That includes most of those who claimed they wanted the president to allow a vote, as the Constitution requires.  The same is true for the CPC: virtually nobody has a position.

Those firmly committed to attacking Syria, in the House, include four Republicans, five non-CPC Democrats, and CPC Co-Chair Keith Ellison.  Those firmly committed against this madness include 10 Republicans, three non-CPC Democrats, and four CPC Democrats. 

Ellison was first elected as an opponent of war and an advocate for impeaching George W. Bush for the crime of war, but reversed his positions immediately upon election.  He just recently responded to pressure from Veterans For Peace in Minnesota and introduced into the Congressional Record acknowledgment that the Kellogg-Briand Pact bans all war.  He then turned around and threw his support in behind the next war.

The other co-chair of the CPC, Raul Grijalva, is listed as "leaning nay," along with nine other Democrats (two of them in the CPC) and 15 Republicans.  We've learned, however, what solid commitment means to these weasels, so you can imagine what "leaning" signifies.

The CPC has no requirements for membership.  A member need not hold any progressive positions.  There are no required actions.  A member need not oppose even the worst atrocities our government inflicts on us or the world.  The CPC doesn't fund its members' elections in this corrupt buyer-takes-all system.  A CPC member is exactly as dependent as any other Congress member on the bosses of a party, for funding, for committee positions, and for pork in a district.  The CPC offers no serious megaphone for progressive views, leaving members as susceptible to the manufactured militarism of the corporate media as anyone else.

Perhaps, at long last, it's time for Congress members Grayson, Nolan, McDermott, and Rangel to establish a Congressional Peace Caucus, which would differ from the Congressional Progressive/Pentagon Caucus.  Congressman Grayson has pointed out that the Chemical Weapons Convention requires criminal prosecution for its violation -- not the bombing of a country, which is itself, of course, a crime.  That ought to be a simple enough position for any elected official in favor of the rule of law to grasp.  If drones get to have their own caucus, why doesn't the rule of law get one?  This is, after all, the legislative branch of government.

Nearly a century ago, if a woman wanted to join the Women's Peace Union, she had to sign a pledge, including this:

"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, whether by making or handling munitions, subscribing to war loans, using our labor for the purpose of setting others free for war service, helping by money or work any organization which supports or condones war."

A Congressional Peace Caucus, were there such a thing, might use a pledge like this:

"We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war, offensive or defensive, international or civil, in any way, but to actively oppose all war, and to seek to deny all funding for war or war preparations, and to treat the waging of war in violation of treaties to which the United States is party as an impeachable offense."

If someone joined that caucus, even if it were just one person, I would begin to see the value in elections and caucuses that others manage to discern through the mists of pretense and sycophancy that currently enshroud Capitol Hill.

Obama Will Launch a Huge Propaganda Blitz -- and May Attack Syria Even If He Loses the Vote in Congress

By Norman Solomon

Grassroots pressure has forced President Obama to seek approval from Congress for an attack on Syria. But Obama is hell-bent on ordering a missile assault on that country, and he has two very important aces in the hole.

The administration is about to launch a ferocious propaganda blitz that will engulf a wide range of U.S. media. And as a fallback, the president is reserving the option of attacking Syria no matter what Congress does.

Bipartisan call to President Obama and House Leadership

News from the Office of

Minnesota’s Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan

 

Bipartisan call to President Obama and House Leadership

 

Public opposition halts march to war: Obama Backs Down, Seeks Congressional Okay for Syria Attack

By Dave Lindorff


The forces arrayed in Washington propelling the nation into a war against Syria, including the Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the cabal of neo-conservative pundits and “think” tanks, whose ranks include President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, the arms industry, the oil industry and other groups, are very powerful, and it may well be that eventually sheer momentum will lead to a US bombing attack on Syria. But for the moment, a grass-roots anti-war campaign has triumphed. 


Undeclaring War on Syria

In a fairly remarkable defeat to the UK Conservative Party's Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Parliament voted against intervention in Syria in a preliminary vote today. That could change in a subsequent vote, but, hey, at least they met, debated and voted! And that was after Cameron's government actually, publicly offered their legal basis for such intervention and an intelligence assessment [PDF] they claim supports it.

Meanwhile, back in these United States, John Nichols details the several bi-partisan --- and surprisingly robust --- Congressional letters calling on President Obama to seek Congressional approval before taking military action against Syria. So far, over 150 members of Congress have signed on to those efforts.

In all, the New York Times concluded this morning (even before the vote in Parliament): "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow."

While a healthy portion of the U.S. Congress members speaking up are progressive Democrats, interestingly (though, perhaps, not surprisingly?), there are far more Republicans, this time around, joining the effort to call on the President to wait for an Article 1, Section 8 declaration of war from Congress --- or, at least, some form of authorization from the Legislative branch --- as clearly envisioned (an actual conservative would say "required") by the U.S. Constitution.

It's nice to see Congress, this time around --- at least more than 150 of its members --- calling on the President to do the right thing. On the other hand, Congress has its own responsibility here...

They are currently not in session. And while one of the letters [PDF], written by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and signed by 53 colleagues as of Thursday, promises Obama: "We stand ready to work with you," and another Congressional letter [PDF], the one with the most signatories on it (140 as of Thursday afternoon), written by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) vows: "Congress can reconvene at your request," the leadership in Congress --- Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid --- haven't bothered to call members back to session. They are perfectly capable of doing so without waiting for a request from the President.

The Bellicose Obama Regime: Once Again, the Answer Is Bombing

By John Grant


Here we go again.

Polls suggest the American people are fed up after two full-bore wars and the killing of an ambassador in Benghazi following our escapade in Libya. Yet, the Obama administration seems poised to launch another war in Syria.

“We can’t do a third war in 12 years!"

Confronting the latest attack on our privacy and freedom: Lavabit's Profile in Corporate Principles and Personal Courage

By Alfredo Lopez


The term "collateral damage" is most frequently applied to the "non-targeted" death and destruction brought by bombs and guns. But it seems that our government, the master of collateral damage, is now doing it in "non-violent" ways. Take the recent situation at Lavabit.

Informed Activist

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