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I recently recommened a comprehensive Constitutional amendment addressing the corruption of our elections.
The largest piece of it, largely inspired by an amendment drafted by Russell Simmons, had not been introduced in Congress . . . until now.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich has just introduced HJRes100 which proposes this Constitutional Amendment:
Section 1. All campaigns for President and Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be financed entirely with public funds. No contributions shall be permitted to any candidate for Federal office from any other source, including the candidate.
Section 2. No expenditures shall be permitted in support of any candidate for Federal office, or in opposition to any candidate for Federal office, from any other source, including the candidate. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
Section 3. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds.
Section 4. The Congress shall, by statute, provide criminal penalties for any violation of this Article.
Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This does not state that corporations are not people or bribery is not speech or the moon is not made of cheese, but it proceeds accordingly and handles the corruption of our elections as effectively as anything I've seen. No amendment is completely comprehensive, but no completely comprehensive amendment is likely to get passed (or even read). I also doubt very much that Congress will ever advance any such amendment, at least until there is a serious threat from two-thirds of the states to circumvent Congress with a Constitutional Convention.
But if there is an amendment to build the list of cosponsors on, this looks like the one. This looks to me like something that the anti-corporate-personhood movement, the clean elections movement, the peace movement, and every other cause for peace, justice, or representative government should get behind. I don't mean get behind a politician or a party or censor your own complete demands. I mean get every possible Congress member to cosponsor this bill, which exists because of our movement.
Blocking funding without providing public financing is a half-solution. Limiting private election spending while leaving loopholes is no solution. Prohibiting private spending, creating public financing, and making those laws enforceable is a huge chunk of the solution.
We can all remember "H J Res 100". Now to ask our misrepresentatives to sign on!
Don't take it from me. Take it from the book being published today that will mainstream the movement to end corporate personhood: "Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do, And What You Can Do About It," by Jeff Clements with foreword by Bill Moyers.
Clements traces the development of the legal doctrine of corporate personhood back long before the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision two years ago this month, in particular to President Richard Nixon's appointment of Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court in 1972. Led by Powell's radical new conception of corporate rights, Clements shows, the court began striking down laws that protected living breathing persons' rights in areas including the environment, tobacco, public health, food, drugs, financial regulation, and elections.
Unconstitutional War: Strategic Risk in the Age of Congressional Abdication
by Joseph V. Gallagher III
By John Grant
Ever since George W. Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000 souls and was selected President by a right-leaning Supreme Court, the United States has seemed to me devoted to a twisted fate of slow-motion Armageddon.
What seems to guarantee this is one of our most characteristic American traits: We don’t learn from the past; instead, we choose to officially forget embarrassing history so we can move on from our debacles without losing an ounce of glory. We all know how it goes: Sure, mistakes were made, but we need to keep our eye on the ball and move forward. The costs are paid in slow motion and out of sight.
Selective Sympathy: War’s Mayhem and Murder is Somehow Less Hard to Bear than the Humane Termination of an Injured Animal
By Dave Lindorff
The officer rested his arm holding the stock of the assault rifle on the top of a log pile, and aimed directly between the target’s eyes. She was looking directly at him, unblinking, from 30 feet away, and exhibited no fear. “I hate doing this,” he muttered, before finally pulling the trigger.
A sharp “bang!” rang out, her head jerked up and then her whole body sagged to the ground, followed by some muscle jerks, and it was over.
The officer went over and checked the body, decided no second shot was needed to finish the job, and then walked back to his squad car, took out his phone, and called in the serial number of his rifle, reporting his firing of one round, as required by regulations.
By Dan DeWalt
Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill [Carl Levin's S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being detained by our own military. If the government decides that you are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you're being held.
19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.
TODAY is the Senate's turn to vote on FY2012 "Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House passed yesterday evening by a vote of 283-138. This bill contains $554 billion for the Pentagon base budget and another $115.5 billion for the wars, and includes dangerous provisions for the "indefinite detention" of terrorism suspects. (Roll Call Here)
We need to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls to our Senators calling upon them to Vote "No" on this dangerous and wasteful bill. Please add your voice TODAY: Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121.
Background: The House of Representatives passed the FY2012 Defense Authorization bill last May by a vote of 322-96. The Senate passed its version of the "Defense" Authorization bill last week. (Roll Call Here). A joint conference committee completed work on a final version of the NDAA over the weekend. It was this version, which just passed the House. Among its disturbing features:
- *It authorizes $554 billion for the Pentagon's bloated base budget and $115.5 billion for continuing the wars.
- *It drops the Merkley language, which required a plan for the accelerated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan before 2014.
- *It provides for the indefinite detention of people suspected of terrorism, without charges or trial and mandates military detention for a subset of terrorism suspects.
- *It bars the transfer of detainees currently held in Guantanamo to the United States for any reason including trial.
- *It requires draconian sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran directly threatening the economic well-being of average Iranians.
Senate votes will be coming today! Please make your calls now! Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121.
Let your Senators know that you want them to vote against the FY2012 "Defense" Authorization bill because it imperils civil liberties, continues an endless war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, wastes billions of dollars that 99% of Americans need for a more secure life here at home.
And please let us know of any feedback you receive. firstname.lastname@example.org
Gael and Rusti
Co-conveners UFPJ Legislative Working Group
By Dave Lindorff
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 14) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today outlined his opposition to H.R. 1540, the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a speech on the House floor. The NDAA contains unprecedented language that would authorize the military to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or trial – including U.S. citizens and those captured on U.S. soil. It also “affirms” that the U.S. is in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and “associated forces” (that are undefined), setting the stage for permanent global warfare.
“This bill authorizes permanent warfare anywhere in the world. It gives the president unchecked power to pursue war. It diminishes the role of this Congress. The founders saw Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which places in the hands of Congress the war power, as essential to a check and balance against the executive abuse of power. This legislation diminishes Congress' role in that regard.”
“This legislation authorizes the military to indefinitely detain individuals without charge or trial, including the detention of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. In short, what this bill does is it takes a wrecking ball to the United States Constitution and gives enormous power to the government or the state. I want friends on both sides of the aisle to understand this; we are giving the state more power over individuals with this bill. It’s the wrong direction.”
“Our children deserve a world without end, not a war without end. Our children deserve a world where they know the government will protect them, that it is not going to rule over them by invading their very thoughts and going, as the PATRIOT Act does, going into their banking records or into their educational records. We have to keep the government out of people's lives and stop the government from getting more into war which gives the government more control over people. This is the time we take a stand for the Constitution and a stand for a government which is smaller when it comes on matters of war.”
H R 1540 RECORDED VOTE 14-Dec-2011 6:58 PM
QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Conference Report
BILL TITLE: To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes
Jackson Lee (TX)
Lungren, Daniel E.
Sánchez, Linda T.
---- NOES 136 ---
---- NOT VOTING 14 ---
Johnson, E. B.
Here is the text of a portion of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act marked up to indicate changes made by the conference committee. The changes in red gave the White House "flexibility" but did nothing to save the Bill of Rights from this assault.
Subtitle D--Detainee Matters
SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
(f) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons' for purposes of subsection (b)(2).
SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.
(a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
(2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined--
(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
(B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
(3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
(4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The
Secretary of Defense President may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary President submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
(c) Implementation Procedures-
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
(2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:
(A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.
(B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.
(C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.
(D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.
(E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.
(d) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.
(e) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.
I never thought I would have to write this: but—incredibly—Congress has now passed the National Defense Appropriations Act, with Amendment 1031, which allows for the military detention of American citizens. The amendment is so loosely worded that any American citizen could be held without due process. The language of this bill can be read to assure Americans that they can challenge their detention — but most people do not realize what this means: at Guantanamo and in other military prisons, one’s lawyer’s calls are monitored, witnesses for one’s defense are not allowed to testify, and one can be forced into nudity and isolation. Incredibly, ninety-three Senators voted to support this bill and now most of Congress: a roster of names that will live in infamy in the history of our nation, and never be expunged from the dark column of the history books.
Occupy Washington, DC Occupies Senator Levin's Office to Protest Defense Authorization
Focus of Protest is the Use of the Military Against U.S. Citizens Within the United States
Protesters from OccupyWashingtonDC.org will sit-in Sen. Carl Levin's Office (269 Russell Office Building) at 2:00 today.
The protest is against provisions of the Defense Authorization that allow the use of the military inside the United States. The provisions allow military detention without any finding of guilt, without a hearing in civil court, and apply to U.S. citizens and legal residents.
James P. McGovern (MA)
Five-Minute Special Order
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
END THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN NOW
M. Speaker, on Saturday, the New York Times reported that our ambassador in Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker, told a group of journalists that U.S. troops could stay in Afghanistan long past the president’s 2014 deadline if the Afghan government asked us to stay.
The very next day, the New York Times reported Afghan President Hamid Karzai blaming foreigners, including the United States, for the corruption that is so rampant in his government. He had the audacity to say this at an event marking International Anti-Corruption Day.
M. Speaker, Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt countries on the face of the earth. Transparency International ranks Afghanistan as the 2nd most corrupt government, right behind Somalia and North Korea, which tied for first place.
Remember our report on what's needed.
There is now a bill from the Progressive Caucus taking the same basic, sane approach. This is from Rep. Grijalva's office:
The administration insists that military, law enforcement and intelligence officials need flexibility in prosecuting the war on terror. Obama points to his administration's successes in eliminating Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Republicans counter that their efforts are necessary to respond to an evolving, post-Sept. 11 threat, and that Obama has failed to produce a consistent policy on handling terror suspects.
The bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaida or its affiliates who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States, with an exemption for U.S. citizens.
Responding to appeals from Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller, lawmakers added a provision that says nothing in the bill will affect "existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the FBI or any other domestic law enforcement agency" with regard to a captured suspect, "regardless of whether such ... person is held in military custody."
The bill also says the president can waive the provision based on national security. Originally that authority rested with the defense secretary.
House and Senate negotiators dropped several of the provisions in the House bill that also had drawn a veto threat, including the requirement of military tribunals for all cases.
"We took significant steps to address the administration's concerns," Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House panel, told reporters.
The legislation would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. The lawmakers made no changes to that language.
Civil rights groups still pressed for a presidential veto.
"The sponsors of the bill monkeyed around with a few minor details, but all of the core dangers remain – the bill authorizes the president to order the military to indefinitely imprison without charge or trial American citizens and others found far from any battlefield, even in the United States itself. The bill strikes at the very heart of American values," Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "Based on suspicion alone, no place and no person are off-limits to military detention without charge or trial."
The full text of the letter follows:
Don’t Take the Best Tool to Prevent War with Iran off the Table
OPPOSE H.R. 1905: The Iran Threat Reduction Act
The conflict between the U.S. and Iran is reaching a point where it could spiral out of control. In the U.S., Congress and the administration have become more confrontational toward Iran. Iran has done the same and withdrawn further from the international community.
Now, Congress is preparing to add fuel to this fire. Your representative is preparing to vote on legislation that could close off prospects for diplomatic communication between the U.S. and Iran at the very time that such channels are critical for preventing war.
This vote could come as soon as next Tuesday. Please call your representative today at 877-429-0678 and ask her or him to vote "no" on the Iran Threat Reduction Act, H.R. 1905. Enter your zip code to get talking points that reflect whether your member has publicly supported this bill.
Although more than 80 percent of the House has cosponsored this bill, many agreed to support it before the anti-diplomacy provisions were added. Section 601(c) of the bill states:
No person employed with the United States Government may contact in an official or unofficial capacity any person that--(1) is an agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the Government of Iran; and (2) presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.
The president can waive this restriction only with 15 days advance notice to Congress. In a crisis, U.S. diplomats could find themselves unable to talk to their Iranian counterparts to prevent war from erupting.
The former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and several U.S. ambassadors have warned that the lack of diplomatic contact between the U.S. and Iran could lead to war. Former ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers have called the bill "preposterous," noting that it "raises serious constitutional issues over the separation of powers." Former top Middle East intelligence analyst Paul Pillar was highly critical of the bill, saying, "this legislation is another illustration of the tendency to think of diplomacy as some kind of reward for the other guy, rather than what it really is: a tool for our side."
By Dave Lindorff
Wanted: Sculptor who works in bronze to construct life-sized group of statues of President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, all to be mounted at the high tide line below a high cliff in Maine’s Acadia National Park.
There what’s left of American posterity can watch as the seas rise inexorably over the coming years and decades, first lapping at the feet of the statues, then the knees, then the waists, then the chests and finally cover over the heads of these “leaders” in Washington who have cynically and foolishly squandered the last opportunity to take effective action to combat climate change.
Bi-partisan letter to Obama: No military solution in Afghanistan, bring troops home
Washington, D.C.– Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) were joined by 40 Members of the House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to speed up the return of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“We are calling on President Obama to recognize that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, and the longer we keep our troops there the longer we delay the progress of an Afghan-produced political solution,” said Congresswoman Lee, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force.
I'm editing a book in which one of the contributors writes:
In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act.
Presumably this would be trashed by the bill now before the conference committee and soon headed to the President for a signature or veto.
The criminal abuse of Japanese Americans for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, will now be sanctioned by the current Congress/President.
Can you feel the pride?
Are you fired up?
The more things CHANGE . . .
By John Grant
Following a decade of military invasion and occupation in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the United States is becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of empires: “We get no respect!”
The undisputed post-World War Two top dog in the world, on virtually every front the United States is more and more playing catch-up with two-faced, Clintonian shuttle diplomacy around the world and a well-entrenched regime of secrecy and sophisticated public relations aimed at keeping the dismal story of decline out of the domestic mind-space.
By Dave Lindorff
Word that the Los Angeles Police, who sent in 1200 officers in riot gear to violently rout a few hundred Occupy Movement demonstrators from their LA encampment last week, had earlier sent 12 undercover young officers into the peaceful occupation camp to spy on the activists should come as no surprise.