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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.

Is America playing its last card?: Pissing Off Friends is a Doomed Strategy

By Dave Lindorff


Like an obnoxious drunk harassing everyone and spilling drinks at a party, the US has continued to make itself both loathed and laughed at in the wake of the revelations about the National Security Agency’s global spying program as revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. 


Holder promises Russia not to torture Snowden: A Shameful Day to Be a US Citizen

By Dave Lindorff


I have been deeply ashamed of my country a number of times. The Nixon Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong was one such time, when hospitals, schools and dikes were targeted. The invasion of Iraq was another. Washington’s silence over the fatal Israeli Commando raid on the Gaza Peace Flotilla--in which a 19-year-old unarmed American boy was murdered--was a third.  But I think I have never been as ashamed and disgusted as I was today reading that US Attorney General Eric Holder had sent a letter to the Russian minister of justice saying that the US would “not seek the death penalty” in its espionage case against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, promising that even if the US later brought added charges against Snowden after obtaining him, they would not include any death penalty, and vowing that if Snowden were handed over by Russia to the US, he would “not be tortured.”


So it has come to this: That the United States has to promise (to Russia!) that it will not torture a prisoner in its control -- a US citizen at that -- and so therefore that person, Edward Snowden, has no basis for claiming that he should be “treated as a refugee or granted asylum.”


Why does Holder have to make these pathetic representations to his counterpart in Russia? 


Because Snowden has applied for asylum saying that he is at risk of turture or execution if returned to the US to face charges for leaking documents showing that the US government is massively violating the civil liberties and privacy of every American by monitoring every American’s electronic communications.


Snowden has made that claim in seeking asylum because he knows that another whistleblower, Pvt. Bradley Manning, was in fact tortured by the US for months, and held without trial in solitary confinement for over a year before being finally put on trial in a kangaroo court, where the judge is as much prosecutor as jurist, and where his guilt was declared in advance by the President of the United States -- the same president who has also already publicly declared Snowden guilty too...


For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF inThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent three-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to:www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1888

Dear Members of Congress:

Across the nation, Head Start programs have ended their school years early, canceled summer programs, cut staff pay and benefits, and have begun to announce reductions in the number of children who will be served in the fall. Programs serving meals to seniors have started to reduce days of home delivery and have closed or reduced hours for dining rooms. The long-term unemployed have lost federal jobless benefits, while job training programs that might have helped them are cut back. Federal funds for education have been cut, with particularly harsh results for schools most reliant on these resources: those on Indian reservations or near military bases. Students counting on college work-study jobs are learning they will not get them. Poor families or people with disabilities perilously close to homelessness after waiting years for a rental voucher have been told they will have to wait longer.

These are just some of the impacts of sequestration. At a time when we need to invest in education, rebuild infrastructure, protect people from hardship, and jumpstart economic growth that finally reaches most of us, sequestration is taking us backwards.

While many are reeling from these impacts of sequestration, the appropriations levels set by the House Republicans for FY 2014 are taking even bigger steps in the wrong direction. Their plan not only assumes next year’s budget continues the devastating sequestration reductions, but it ignores the Budget Control Act’s requirement that half of the $110 billion in additional annual cuts must be imposed on military programs and half imposed on the other areas of government. Instead, the Pentagon budget is increased by 5.4 percent over this year’s spending. In marked contrast, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are slashed 18.6 percent below this year’s funding, including sequestration. Other important domestic areas are also cut deeply: energy, conservation, and environmental protection programs are cut between 11 – 22 percent.

These are upside-down priorities.

Continuing deep cuts made even worse by shifting funds from vital programs to the Pentagon is wrong. These cuts to needed investments and protections passed in the House in a partisan vote trample on the core American values of providing opportunity for our children, security for our elders, and a strong future for all of our communities. Instead of more cuts to vital programs and more pork for Pentagon contractors, it is time to end tax breaks for the rich and for big corporations.

We urge you to oppose appropriations based on the House-passed levels. Congress should enact a budget based on the values of opportunity and security, to build an America that works for all of us.

Sincerely,

9to5
A World Fit for Kids!
Action for the Common Good
Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
African American Health Alliance
Afterschool Alliance
AIDS United
Alliance for a Just Society
Alliance for Children and Families
Alliance for Global Justice
American Association of School Administrators
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Congress Voting Today to Give Your Money to Weapons Makers

FROM UFPJ:

Voting on 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill may come as early as Wednesday afternoon

STOP FUNDING WAR BUSINESS AS USUAL!

Call your Representative!

Time to stop favoring the Pentagon over urgent human needs at home.

Ask Them to Vote NO! on HR 2397.

Call 202 224 3121 (Capitol Switchboard) and ask for your Rep.

To Find Out your Rep : http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

Background: On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee passed H.R. 2397, the FY 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act approving $512.5 billion for the Pentagon base budget (not counting the cost of military construction and nuclear weapons), and $85.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, which is largely for waging war in Afghanistan. For text: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2397

Despite countless floor speeches full of moral platitudes about democracy, social justice and peace and hard evidence that the US' imperial model is unsustainable, the majority in Congress continues to vote for the needs of a powerful military industry at the expense of the needs of most Americans.


It is not just militaristic Republicans who are the problems. When the House of Representatives voted on the 2014 Defense Authorization bill last month, the majority of Democrats voted in favor (103-90). See Roll Call http://www.gop.gov/votes/113/1/244 to see how your Representative voted. Without strong pressure from us, the results are likely to be the same for the Defense Appropriations Bill when it comes to the floor, perhaps as early as today .

The DoD Budget ignores the Budget Control Act’s requirement that half of the $110 billion in additional annual cuts must be shared between military and non-military programs. Instead, the Pentagon budget is 5.4 percent over this year’s spending while the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education are slashed 18.6 percent below this year’s already reduced funding. Energy, conservation, and environmental protection programs will be cut between 11 – 22 percent. These choices are neither wise nor fair.

Under sequestration it's business as usual for the Pentagon and upheaval for the poor and vulnerable as more cuts to critical human need programs are imposed to protect funding for war, weapons and spying. During this fiscal year, the cuts to programs like Head Start, Meals on Wheels, student grants, affordable housing, furthe cut into vitally important services for some of our most vulnerable people- including families, children, low income mothers, students and elders. Our allies at the Coalition for Human Needs are keeping track of the impact across all 50 states here: http://www.chn.org/background/sequestration-state-fact-sheets-2013/ .

Below is a recent example of how the Pentagon and it's private sector partners deal with the sequester and waste billions of taxpayer dollars:

...Northrop Grumman’s political strategy “is entirely predictable — hire the right people, target the right people, contribute to the right people, then link them together with subcontractors and go for the gold,” said Gordon Adams, who served as the senior White House budget official for national security from 1993 to 1997 … To read more: http://www.publicintegrity.org/print/12969


Defense Contractors Are Making the Noise!

Members of Congress Need to Hear From Us !

Call 202 224 3121 (Capitol Switchboard) and ask for your Representative

Tell them to Vote NO on another $598 bill Pentagon Spending Bill

Congress to Vote on Ending Endless War Today

Win Without War

After nearly 12 years, the House is on the verge of a historic vote that would put a nail in the coffin of George W. Bush's War on Terror. The legal foundation for what has become a global, endless war is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Later today the House will vote on an amendment by Congressman Adam Schiff that would bar any funds from being spent on the 2001 AUMF after December 31, 2014, when the war in Afghanistan is scheduled to conclude.  This vote is the first time Congress will vote on repealing the 2001 AUMF and it is going to happen this afternoon! Your Member of Congress needs to hear from you! 

Take 30 seconds and call your Member of Congress now!

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Member of Congress. Then tell them:

"I'm calling today to ask you to support the Schiff amendment #73 to the Defense Appropriations Act. After more than 12 years of war, it is time to repeal the AUMF. Thank you."

More than a decade ago, Congress responded to the attacks of 9/11 by passing the 2001 AUMF. No one could have imagined what would be done over the next 12 years allegedly under that authority. From drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen to special forces operations in the Phillipines, the AUMF has been interpreted to allow for a global, endless war against not just Al Qaeda but countless other groups, many of whom have no intention of attacking America. Congressman Schiff's amendment would simply say that after the war in Afghanistan ends in 2014, the AUMF will come to an end. America would still have ample ability to defend ourselves and protect our interests, but there would no longer be a sweeping legal authority to go to war anywhere, at anytime, against nearly anyone in the world. 

Tell your Member of Congress you support ending the AUMF.  Call at (202) 224-3121 now!

Thank you for working for peace,

-Stephen, Tom, and the Win Without War Team

 

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