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Did House Pass Audit the Fed Bill Because Senate Committed to Killing It? Or Is the Problem the Democrats?
Legislation to subject the Federal Reserve's monetary policy to audits sailed through the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday although the measure is expected to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The legislation, written by Republican representative Ron Paul, whose anti-Fed crusade prompted a presidential bid and his grass-roots folk-hero status, passed the House by a 327-98 vote on Wednesday, exceeding the two-thirds majority needed.
Eighty-nine Democrats joined 238 Republicans to approve it.
Fed officials have long fought the audit bill, arguing it would compromise their independence. Chairman Ben Bernanke told House lawmakers last week it would open the door to a "nightmare scenario" of political meddling in monetary policy decisions.
We lost 202-216 on cutting military NASCAR sponsorships. We could have used a tiny bit more push. In contrast, the proposal to cut military band $$ lost 166-250 with nobody pushing against it at all.
CNN/ORC Poll. March 24-25, 2012. N=1,014 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 3.
"Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?"
H R 5856 RECORDED VOTE 18-Jul-2012 10:25 PM
AUTHOR(S): Second Lee of California Amendment
QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Amendment
Sent to Congress on your dime from the National Guard:
The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) requests that you vote “no” on the Kingston-McCollum amendment that would divert critical funding from Defense Department-wide marketing and advertising accounts to prevent the DOD from sponsoring pro-sports. This amendment would severely limit the National Guard’s ability to target and recruit soldiers and airmen with proven, effective marketing methods.
For the National Guard, pro-sports sponsorships provide a national platform to promote the National Guard’s image and aid in recruiting efforts. The recruiting and retention dollars spent through pro-sports sponsorships increase the National Guard’s prestige and visibility, as well as generate recruiting leads at events. Most importantly, sponsorships in motorsports specifically, through Indy Racing and NASCAR, illustrate a wise use of taxpayers’ dollars with a high return on investment. In 2011, the return on investment for media exposure for NASCAR and IndyCar was over 368%, and saw an estimated 7 billion impressions, or time an ad or logo were viewed. This is an over $150 million return.
We recognize the need to make important decisions in this fiscal environment, but pro-sports sponsorships are not just a matter of money. They are an effective and important marketing platform for awareness and development for targeting future potential recruits. [IN ENGLISH THAT'S CHILDREN.]
“Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn’t what it used to be. Only one in every four young people today is even eligible to join…Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them,” said NGAUS President, retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., in a recent press release.
Innovative techniques such as sports sponsorships help DOD do just that.
Please vote against the amendment sponsored by Representatives Kingston and McCollum to prohibit DOD pro-sports sponsorships.
House of Representatives Should Vote:
“YES” for Jobs Program, Federal Aid to States and Vital Social Services! and
“NO” on current proposed FY2013 Pentagon Budget!
A coalition of open Internet advocates unveiled a “Declaration of Internet Freedom” this week, seeking to rally activists against censorship and privacy violations from both governments and corporations. The Declaration comes as a Manhattan Judge ordered Twitter to turn over months of personal data from an Occupy Wall Street protester, arrested during last fall's mass demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. Both Google and Twitter released reports this month showing the US government requested more private user data than any other country in the world, and the companies largely complied. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
(Transcript; audio available here)
By Dave Lindorff
Looking on the bright side, the Supreme Court has ruled that something that President Obama has done is definitively not unconstitutional.
That’s probably the best that can be said of the 5-4 decision by the High Court today in upholding the ironically named Affordable Health Care Act.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
A new book by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is another display of this man’s savvy proclivity for self-promotion.
However, irrespective of the monstrous ego of this man known in Philadelphia as "Fast Eddy," Rendell is on target with the alarmingly accurate title of that book: A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.
By John Grant
Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.
-Bernard Brodie, 1973
Sen. Dick Durbin
309 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
June 22, 2012
Dear Senator Durbin,
I have just read the book, “When the World Outlawed War,” by David Swanson. He provides a fascinating part of history following World War I, climaxed with the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact in Paris on August 27, 1928. What started as a potential peace agreement between the United States and France, eventually resulted in a treaty among over 50 countries Outlawing War. In January 1929 the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 85 to 1, ratified the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and in July 1929 President Hoover declared it to be binding as the Supreme Law of the Land. It remains so today.
It didn’t take long for President Roosevelt and all succeeding presidents and congresses to ignore the law. Over eight decades have passed and we seem to have developed a collective amnesia. I can understand why the military-industrial complex wants this amnesia to persist indefinitely. “War,” which we generally call “Defense,” is our major industry, consuming about 60 percent of the federal discretionary budget. But is amnesia the proper response?
My first reaction to Swanson’s book was why haven’t I known that countries have come together to outlaw war? As I reflect back over all the human history that I’m aware of, the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact was the most outstanding achievement. I think August 27, 1928 was Our Greatest Day, and August 27 ought to be an international Peace Holiday. Think about it. Everyone who yearns for peace – and I think you are among them – knows how difficult it is to turn from a culture of violence and dominance to a path of mutual respect and nonviolent conflict resolution. But if human civilization has a future, peace through nonviolence is the only path. We have to start somewhere. We already have taken Step 1. Let’s celebrate it!
Why is this so important? Two reasons: 1. Respect for the Law and 2. Progress towards Peace.
We don’t respect the law by ignoring it. As a duly ratified treaty the Kellogg-Briand Pact, according to the U.S. Constitution, which you have taken an oath to preserve and protect, is the Supreme Law of the Land. You may have been unaware of it as I was, but you can no longer claim that after reading this letter and verifying its truth, as testified by Professor Cornell West and proclaimed on the State Department’s website: http://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/Kellogg. People have told me that it’s not a real law because it can’t be enforced. Clearly, this law was and is intended to be self enforcing. It depends on its enforcement by the full faith and credit of those who have signed onto it. Our honor is at stake. If we consciously decide to ignore the law because no one can force us to obey it, we are proclaiming anarchism. Why should any country enter a treaty with us again?
This brings us to the second point. Instead of lip service about wanting peace how can we realistically reverse the trend towards war? Thirty three years after Kellogg-Briand, President Eisenhower warned that the military-industrial complex was taking on a life of its own. Now, almost 84 years after Kellogg-Briand, the military-industrial-congressional-financial-media complex controls and guides the world’s only superpower on a path of death and destruction, all in the name of defense of liberty. Do Americans want this? Do the people of the world want this?
Sen. Durbin, please help us pursue a path towards peace. I believe we have already taken Step 1, when countries came together and formally declared that War is Against the Law. The intent was and is to not only prevent starting a war, but to reduce the instruments of war and using the threat of war as a diplomatic tool. We (and the other signatories to this treaty) should acknowledge publically that we have not been true to our word. We have gone astray. Our pursuit of advanced weaponry, our unilateral use of drones to “take out” anyone on the president’s secret terrorist list, our continued deployment of nuclear weapons, and our ever expanding military bases in every conceivable piece of earth and space are a few examples of contempt for the Kellogg-Briand Pact and must stop. And certainly the use of 60 percent of our federal budget for such purposes while poverty keeps increasing and the middle class keep decreasing in the world’s richest country cannot be morally justified. All of this is against the spirit and letter of Kellogg-Briand.
Sen. Durbin, as Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, Member of the Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, you are in key positions in our government to achieve Step 2 on the path towards peace. We must educate our citizens about the Law. I am over 80 years old and did not know that our country signed a treaty that outlawed war. When I tell other people they smile and say it can’t be true. But then they quickly Google Kellogg-Briand Pact and easily verify that it is a ratified treaty, still in effect. For too many of my friends, this just gives them one more reason to be cynical about our government. Don’t you agree that this is the time to set things straight?
I think August 27, 1928 was the greatest day in human history and should be made a National and International Day of Reflection. Not a holiday that can easily be co-opted to promote consumerism or even militarism, but a day when we just remind ourselves of the day we outlawed war. We don’t even need a day off work – just a one hour break to reflect on our response to Kellogg-Briand. [In case you are not aware, Sen. Durbin, much of the popular grassroots support to get Kellogg-Briand passed in the Senate was led by Chicago’s own Jane Addams.] Don’t we owe it to her and the many people in many countries who invested so much of their lives to banish war?
Here’s my suggestion. Talk to your colleague across the aisle, Sen. Mark Kirk. Any realistic reassessment of “defense” by moving towards peace must be nonpartisan or, more realistically, bi-partisan. Jointly agree to co-sponsor the First Annual Nationwide Peace Teach-in on Monday, August 27, 2012. This can be the occasion to: (1) announce real major reductions in every aspect of war and (2) measure our progress in keeping with the spirit and letter of Kellogg-Briand, the law of the land.
As a leader of the West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition I will do my part to cure amnesia by making sure our 600 members, including individuals, groups, clergy and laity are fully aware of Kellogg-Briand. I should point out that one of our members is Kathy Kelly, who was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and it was she that gave me David Swanson’s book. I am very anxious to hear your response to this open letter.
West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition
Among those who refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas, never mind requests, while George W. Bush was president were: the Department of Justice, the Secretary of State ("not inclined" was Condi's explanation), the Vice President (who preemptively announced he would probably not comply with such silliness and didn't), the White House Counsel, the White House Chief of Staff, the White House Political Director, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, the White House Deputy Political Director, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and so on. There's a collection of these subpoenas (the targets being Republicans) over at http://democrats.com/subpoenas
Carl Levin Says Cutting 0.05% of a Military Budget That Has Doubled This Decade Will Endanger Us All
Last summer, during the crisis over raising the debt limit, Congress passed the Budget Control Act. That legislation established a so-called "supercommittee" to try to agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.
Because the supercommittee could not reach agreement, at the beginning of next year, automatic spending cuts called sequestration will kick in, divided equally between defense and domestic spending, cutting programs and activities across the board.
These automatic cuts are large, across-the-board cuts that set no priorities. They will do tremendous harm if we don't avoid them.
As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I'm concerned about the impact sequestration could have on our national security. Men and women in uniform could lose their jobs. Training would be curtailed. Acquisition programs would be disrupted.
But when I look beyond defense, I'm also concerned. These cuts could leave us not just with a hollowed-out military, but a hollowed-out economy.
Sequestration threatens our ability to continue the economic recovery, to educate our children, to care for the sick, to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, to protect the environment, to invest in new technologies.
Our only option to avoid the economic train wreck from sequestration is to produce a balanced, bipartisan deficit reduction package. Balance requires three things. First, we need additional spending cuts -- but prudent, prioritized cuts. Second, we have to consider reforms of our entitlement programs. And third, we must include additional revenue.
Historically, federal tax revenue has been about 19-20 percent of our economic output. Today it's closer to 15 percent. Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all reached deficit deals that got at least one-third of their deficit reduction from revenue.
Our tax code is full of loopholes, including offshore tax havens to help wealthy Americans avoid paying their taxes. Closing them down would restore billions of dollars in revenue.
We also must consider reversing Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, who have prospered in recent years even as middle-class incomes have stagnated.
Most Republicans in Congress have signed a pledge they will oppose any attempt to add new revenue to reduce the deficit and protect vital programs. Those opponents have to choose: Will they continue to defend tax breaks and loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans, which is the only group that has done well in the recession? Or will they choose to protect national security, students, seniors, and workers?
Ultimately, I think we will reach a balanced deficit reduction agreement. But if it comes too late -- during the lame duck session in December, for example -- much of the economic damage will already be done.
We know the way out. The way out is compromise. And if we know the path, we shouldn't wait to take it.
This resolution was passed. Thanks to Jim Carpenter.
WHEREAS, H.R. 2859, Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, has been introduced by Barbara Lee of California with 18 co-sponsors; and,
WHEREAS, H.R. 2859 states that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (P.L. 107-40) has been used to justify an open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war;
THEREFORE, RESOLVED, the DPW supports H.R. 2859 for the purpose of ending U.S. military force, including drone killings, in countries that Congress has not declared war upon.
As of Monday evening, Charlottesville City Council has joined the list of over 250 localities, several state legislatures, 22 state attorneys general, the Supreme Court of Montana, four Supreme Court justices, dozens of Congress members, countless clubs and organizations and political parties, and -- in poll after poll -- the vast majority of the people of the United States -- all of whom want the U.S. Constitution amended or by other means wish to undo the Citizens United ruling that opened the flood gates on corporate election spending.
A group of local citizens met, one at a time, with four of the five City Council members ahead of time to win their support. Several of us spoke at Monday's meeting. When I spoke I asked people to stand up if they believed that Congress and states and cities should be allowed to limit or ban corporate and private spending on elections.
A delegation of over a dozen Afghans, mostly women, was attending the meeting. I encouraged them to stand up if they thought the model for Afghanistan's future should be democracy rather than corruption.
I didn't spot a single person left seated.
But there probably was one, because a woman had spoken against the resolution. She'd falsely accused those of us speaking in support of not being from Charlottesville and not caring about local people or local issues. We of course had explained the importance of local governments representing their constituents to higher governments on matters of great importance.
The local newspaper, the Daily Progress, had devoted a big front-page story a few days beforehand to the point of view of the one city council member who opposed the resolution on the grounds that it was not a local matter. Following a 4-0 vote in favor of the resolution, the Daily Progress quickly produced a new article about the point of view of that same city council member who had abstained, not the four who had voted yes, not the crowd that supported them, not what it does to Charlottesville to have a Congress that ignores majority opinion and obeys its funders, not the people who had drafted and promoted the resolution, not the impact it might have, not the national trend, not the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, but the one councilwoman who abstained from voting and who -- during the course of Monday's meeting baselessly accused her four colleagues of being "manipulated" -- presumably by us.
City Councilman Dave Norris pointed out that every single locality in Virginia petitions the state goverment every year, and many petititon Congress every year. Councilwoman Kristin Szakos noted that when she and her colleagues devote 30 minutes to an important issue, they don't neglect others but simply extend the meeting 30 minutes.
The resolution text, or very close to it, follows. For exact wording check with Charlottesville City Council.
WHEREAS, We the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect the free speech and other rights of people, not corporations; and
WHEREAS, Corporations are not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations; and
WHEREAS, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate the people’s laws; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, relying on prior decisions, interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending corporate general treasury funds in our elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United purports to invalidate state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of municipalities across the nation are joining together to call for an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that political speech and spending by corporate entities to influence the political process must be regulated and made subservient to the people’s interest in authentic democracy and self-governance; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States previously have used the constitutional amendment process to correct decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that are deemed to be egregious and wrongly decided and which go to the heart of our democracy and self-government.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE CALL UPON THE VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE. By the People of Charlottesville, Va.
From the New York Times:
Senator Lindsey Graham rode last week like Paul Revere from South Carolina's wooded upstate to its gracious Lowcountry to its sweltering midsection, offering a bureaucratic rallying cry for his military-heavy state - the defense cuts are coming.
On Jan. 2, national security is set to receive a heavy blow if Congress fails to intervene. That is when a 10-year, $600 billion, across-the-board spending cut is to hit the Pentagon, equal to roughly 8 percent of its current budget.
"The soft underbelly that I'm trying to exploit is, 'What does this mean to your state?' " he said.
The audience for that appeal could be forgiven for greeting it with a yawn. So far, at least, Congress is acting as if the constraints it imposed on itself last August will simply be ignored. The House in May approved an annual defense policy bill that authorized Pentagon spending $8 billion higher than spending caps approved in the Budget Control Act - without the automatic spending caps. The Senate Armed Services Committee stuck largely to those caps but included nothing to prepare for sequestration beyond ordering up a study of its potential impacts.
Military leaders in South Carolina came to the microphones of Mr. Graham's events, speaking of "insidious" impacts and "devastating blows." But pressed privately, Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., South Carolina's elected National Guard adjutant general, conceded: "We don't know what sequestration looks like. There hasn't been a whole lot of planning."
For now, Democrats and Republicans are waiting for the other side to blink. And the pressure may be working. Mr. Graham said the sentiment for raising revenues by closing tax loopholes or imposing higher fees on items like federal oil leases is expanding in his party.
Asked about the "no new taxes" pledge almost all Republicans have signed, he shrugged: "I've crossed the Rubicon on that."
By John Grant
“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now. I sentence you to death.”
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
“It was easy.”
- Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury
No congressional committee appears the least bit interested in what he has to say, but Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis --who earlier this year decided to blow the whistle on the false and intentionally misleading happy-talk the American public is hearing from the top brass about Afghanistan -- had a chance to speak his mind at a press conference on Thursday, May 31, hosted by bipartisan anti-war Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and others.
Following is the slightly edited prepared text of his remarks:
By Charles M. Young
The History Channel mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys” reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s “The Unforgiven.” Both productions showed a lot of violence in all its fascination while making it squalid, absurd, arbitrary and devastating to the victims and everyone around the victims. Both productions take as their theme men creating theaters of heroism for themselves out of their own hatred and sense of honor. Both productions show the theaters crumbling in the end as the violence becomes too stupid and meaningless even for the prime agents to continue.
By Dennis Kucinich
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 31, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has opposed the use of combat drones against suspected terrorists abroad since the first known attack in 2004. In February 2006, he asked the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to suspend the use of Predator drones citing the “high toll in innocent civilian life.” In the 111th Congress, he sponsored a bill to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens abroad in response to revelations that the Administration included U.S. citizens on its targeted killing list. Today, he is leading a growing number of Members of Congress to demand the President’s legal justifications for drone strikes.
“The New York Times recently revealed a series of stunning revelations about the secretive U.S. drone campaign abroad. 1) President Obama personally authorizes each drone strike. 2) The White House continues to fail to provide its legal rationale for the killings which include Americans and civilians. 3) Any male of fighting age killed by a drone is automatically assumed to be a militant. At the same time, The Washington Post has reported that our use of drones in Yemen has actually strengthened Al-Qaeda’s recruiting efforts and generating sympathy for our enemies.
Army Whistleblower to Provide Analysis of America’s War in Afghanistan at Capitol Hill Press Conference
Members of Congress to Receive Testimony from Army Whistleblower, Experts at Panel Discussion
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC), and other Members of the House will hold a press conference in support of expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 2 p.m. EST. The press conference will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who will provide an analysis of the situation in Afghanistan that is vastly different than the one received by Congress from the Obama Administration. Lt. Col. Davis will also speak at the press conference.
One week after the NATO announcement on Afghanistan, the American people are still waiting for Congress to catch up and bring about an end to war in Afghanistan. Members of the House directed a request to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that Lt. Col. Danny be invited to testify in a relevant hearing. Since no invitation has been forthcoming, the Members will be receiving the testimony of Lt. Col. Danny Davis at a panel discussion.
WHO: Danny Davis, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Ria Dellewar, Director, Afghanistan Study Group
Malou Innocent, Foreign Policy Analyst, Cato Institute
MEMBERS: U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)
U.S. Rep. John Duncan (R-TN)
U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)
U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL)
U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA)
U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
WHAT: Press Conference and Panel Discussion
WHEN: Thursday, May 31, 2012
TIME: Press conference begins at 2 p.m. EST
Panel Discussion held from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST
WHERE: B-318 Rayburn House Office Building
MEDIA: Please RSVP to Kristal DeKleer (202) 225-1882 or kristal.dekleer at mail.house.gov
This Memorial Day Let’s Start Caring for Our Nation’s Veterans: No More Ducking the Real Cost of US Wars!
By Dave Lindorff
Whether he ever said it or not, I’m going to borrow from a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and alter it a bit to say: “American politicians must love war veterans -- they keep making so many more of them.”
From the indispensable Just Foreign Policy:
Help Rand Paul Call the Question on War with Iran
Sen. Rand Paul introducing his amendment to S. 2101.
Before we have any military conflict with Iran, the Senate and the House should have at least one debate and vote on it. That’s what the Constitution and the law require; that’s what the public interest requires. And it would be better to start that debate now, when there is still a chance of rational discussion, than in the wake of some Gulf of Tonkin incident, when cable news and talk radio could steamroll Congress.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has called the question, blocking unanimous approval of a new Iran sanctions bill to force consideration of an amendment affirming that nothing in the bill would authorize the use of military force, and that military force would require explicit Congressional authorization.
Urge your Senators and Representative to support amending any pending Iran sanctions legislation to affirm that it does not authorize the use of military force and that any use of military force must be explicitly authorized by Congress.
[Please see the link at Just Foreign Policy to find your representative.]
All 535 members of Congress are now on the record declaring that they have not authorized the use of military force against Iran in the latest round of legislation passed in the House and the Senate. This unanimous 'un-declaration' of war by Congress is a crucial victory, with particular significance given its passage on the eve of the U.S.-Iran talks in Baghdad.
The House was the first chamber to 'un-declare war', with its inclusion of a proviso in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that this legislation does not authorize war with Iran. This stipulation that "nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran" is a remarkably sober note of caution and common sense in an otherwise dangerous and reckless piece of legislation. The NDAA allocates billions of dollars of weapons that could be used for an attack on Iran and requires the administration to prepare for war and dramatically escalate the U.S. militarization of the Middle East. Notably, the NDAA exceeds the limitations on Pentagon spending that Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act by about $8 billion--much of which is allotted for the anti-Iran weaponry.
Rep. John Conyers (MI) championed this amendment to 'un-declare' war with Iran with a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Ron Paul (TX), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), and Rep. Walter Jones (NC). In less than a week, Congress received more than 1,000 calls through FCNL's toll-free number from grassroots activists across the country who support this and other anti-war, pro-peace amendments that FCNL was working on. Partly as a result of your advocacy against war with Iran, the Conyers/Paul/Ellison/Jones amendment was considered so uncontroversial that it made its way into the NDAA as part of a package (called 'en bloc amendments') of non-controversial amendments, rather than going to the House floor for a separate vote.
Go to Google and type in “H.R. 4133.” You will discover that, apart from a handful of blogs and alternative news sites, not a single mainstream medium has reported the story of a congressional bill that might well have major impact on the conduct of United States foreign policy.
H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012, was introduced into the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress on March 5 “to express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Israel strategic relationship, to direct the president to submit to Congress reports on United States actions to enhance this relationship and to assist in the defense of Israel, and for other purposes.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) reportedly helped draft the bill, and its co-sponsors include Republicans Eric Cantor and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrats Howard Berman and Steny Hoyer. Hoyer is the Democratic whip in the House of Representatives, where Cantor is majority leader. Ros-Lehtinen heads the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The House bill basically provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over all of its neighbors combined. It requires the White House to prepare an annual report on how that superiority is being maintained. The resolution passed on May 9 by a vote of 411–2 on a “suspension of the rules,” which is intended for non-controversial legislation requiring little debate and a quick vote.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement after Congress passed H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013.
“In addition to language saber-rattling and preparing for war with Iran, the FY013 NDAA includes language that could undermine our diplomatic relationship with Russia and thwart the implementation of the historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) follow-on. For example, the House accepted an amendment that adds to efforts to delay the implementation of START by preventing any reductions to our nuclear arsenal until the Secretary of Defense reports to Congress on Russia’s compliance with the Treaty.
“Another such amendment, adopted by voice vote in the middle of the night, singles out Russia by limiting the availability of funds for Cooperative Threat Reduction Activities with Russia until the Secretary of Defense ‘can certify that Russia is no longer supporting the Syrian regime and is not providing to Syria, North Korea or Iran any equipment or technology that contributes to the development of weapons of mass destruction.’
”Put simply, these are ploys to delay the Defense Department’s ability to implement the nuclear arms reductions as required by the START Treaty and will only raise tensions with our Russian ally,” said Kucinich.
“We should be working cooperatively with Russia to not only reduce arms but to abolish all nuclear weapons.”
Lee Calls for Cuts to Bloated Pentagon Budget, Swift Withdrawal from Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) was one of 120 Members of Congress to vote against H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Lee offered amendments to the bill which would safely and responsibly bring our troops home from Afghanistan, keep Pentagon spending within the limits of the Budget Control Act, and ensure that a meaningful diplomatic option with Iran is on the table.
Lee introduced an amendment to enforce the terms of the Budget Control Act which was signed into law on August 2, 2011, to avert a government shutdown. Congress voted to limit Pentagon spending, but the House Republican leadership proposal spends$8 billion more than allowed under the Budget Control Act. The bi-partisan amendment was not adopted (170-252).
“If you Want Peace, Prepare for Peace. If you Want War, Prepare for War. The NDAA Prepares for War with Iran,” Kucinich.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2012) – Today the House is expected to vote on H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013. Kucinich took to the House Floor to warn Members of the Congress that the bill prepares the United States for war with Iran. It specifically calls for aggressive deployment of our armed services to begin “credible, visible preparations for a military option.”
See video here. Kucinich’s remarks follow:
“If you want peace, you prepare for peace. If you want war, you prepare for war. The NDAA prepares for war against Iran.
“It calls for pre-positioning planes, bombs, ships, munitions and for naval maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz. [Sec. 1221 (b) and Sec. 1222 (A)] This is not about defense. This is about offense.
“I was a third string quarterback on not a very good varsity football team and I know the difference between defense and offense. We’re preparing to go on offense on Iran which does not have nuclear weapons and has no intention or real capability to attack the United States.
“We're about to make the same disastrous mistake we made against Iraq. This bill does not explicitly authorize war, perhaps, but that's beside the point. It’s licensing it. It sets the stage for it in an election year.
“Wake up, Congress.”
Kucinich has been educating fellow Members about the bill this week. See video of Congressman Kucinich on the House Floor here, here and here. See a flyer that Congressman Kucinich distributed to Members here.
Lee amendment for swift withdrawal from Afghanistan falls short in House vote
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment to H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that would bring about a responsible and immediate end to the war in Afghanistan. The amendment would end combat operations at the same time it protects troops by requiring that any dollar directed to Afghanistan could only be spent for the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors. The amendment did not pass the House (113-303).
“The American people have overwhelmingly come to the conclusion that our brave men and women in uniform have accomplished all that we have asked of them and it is time to bring them home from Afghanistan,” said Congresswoman Lee. “My amendment provided Members of the House the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people. I am disappointed that a majority of House Members did not stand with seven out of ten Americans who oppose the war in Afghanistan.”
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Lee was joined by 100 Members of the House, including five Republicans, in sending a letter to President Obama urging an expedited withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan n advance of the NATO summit.
“Our brave troops have done everything that was asked of them,” said Congresswoman Lee. “With almost two thousand U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, and many tens of thousands more maimed with injuries both hidden and visible, we must recognize that the boots on the ground strategy in Afghanistan is not working. After 11 long years of war, I will continue to work to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.”
Today’s House Floor speech: here
Link to letter to President Obama: here
Text of the Lee Amendment:
AMENDMENT TO H.R. 4310, AS REPORTED
OFFERED BY MS. LEE OF CALIFORNIA
At the end of subtitle B of title XII of division A of the bill, add the following:
Sec. 12xx. LIMITATION ON FUNDS FOR OPERATIONS OF THE ARMED FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN.
(a) IN GENERAL --- Funds made available to carry out this Act for operations of the Armed Forces in Afghanistan shall be obligated an expended only for purpose of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan of all members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense contractor personnel who are in Afghanistan.
(b) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION --- Nothing in this section shall be construed –
(1) To authorize the use of funds for the continuation of combat operations in Afghanistan while carrying out the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan of all members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense contractor personnel who are in Afghanistan; and
(2) To prohibit or otherwise restrict the use of funds available to any department or agency of the United States to carry out diplomatic efforts or humanitarian, development, or general reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
Washington D.C. (May 17, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is urging Members to reject H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act, FY 2013 because it prepares the way for a disastrous war with Iran. Even if the House accepts a proposed amendment by John Conyers (D-MI) to state that the authorization is not a specific declaration of war, the bill still calls for aggressive redeployment of our armed services to begin “credible, visible preparations for a military option.”
Kucinich addressed the House Floor moments ago.
“To start the war in Iraq, Congress was lied to.
“To start the war in Afghanistan, Congress was misled.
“To start the war in Libya, Congress was ignored.
“To start the war in Iran, language has been hidden in the NDAA.
“The NDAA prepares for war against Iran. It has a declaration of policy which includes military action. It has a plan to pre-position aircraft, munitions and fuel for air and sea-based missions. It has a plan for maintaining sufficient naval assets in the region to launch a sustained sea and air campaign against a range of Iranian nuclear and military targets. This bill prepares for war.
“Some will say this bill doesn't authorize for war. This bill prepares for war. Even if it's amended, it prepares for war and we need to vote the bill down because it prepares for war with Iran which would be devastating to this country's interest.”
If Anyone Was Going to Vote Against War Authorization and Funding It'd Be These 91 Congress Members. Don't Hold Your Breath.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee Urges Congress to End the War in Afghanistan
Lee leads bi-partisan group of 91 Representatives in penning letter to President
WASHINGTON – Today 91 Members of the House of Representatives, led by Barbara Lee (D-CA), sent a letter to President Obama urging an expedited withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. Ninety Members of the House of Representatives signed the letter, including four Republicans. The Congresswoman was joined by a dozen colleagues at a morning press conference.
“Today, I am announcing that 90 Members of Congress are joining me in requesting that President Obama expedite our troops’ return and speed up the transition to having Afghans in charge of Afghanistan,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The American people have overwhelmingly come to the conclusion that our brave men and women in uniform have accomplished all that we have asked of them and it is time to bring them home from Afghanistan.”
Today, the House of Representatives is scheduled to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides war funding, at the same time President Obama prepares for the NATO summit in Chicago. The bi-partisan group of Members outlined the need to make a change in policy in Afghanistan.
“I believe that it is time for Members of Congress to stand with seven out of ten Americans who oppose the war in Afghanistan,” said Congresswoman Lee. “There is no military solution in Afghanistan, which is why I am pushing Republican leadership to allow me to offer an amendment to the NDAA that would bring about a responsible and immediate end to the war in Afghanistan. The amendment would end combat operations while protecting our troops by ensuring that any dollar directed to Afghanistan can only be spent for the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors.”
Congresswoman Lee was joined by Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC), Ron Paul (R-TX), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-NY), and James McGovern (D-MA). Congresswoman Lee thanked her colleagues for joining her at the press conference, noting that “the silence on Capitol Hill on this issue has been deafening.”
Link to press release with photo here.
Copy of letter below:
May 16, 2012
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Earlier this month you visited Afghanistan to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement. As you stated at Bagram Air Base, “this time of war began in Afghanistan, and this is where it will end.” The core of al Qaeda has been greatly reduced in size and ability to attack Americans. Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything that we have asked of them. With over 17,000 dead and wounded U.S. servicemen and women, and long term costs estimated at $4 trillion for the past decade of unfunded wars, the overwhelming majority of American people want to bring the war in Afghanistan to an expedited end.
While many of us would prefer an immediate full withdrawal from Afghanistan, there is broad, bipartisan consensus in Congress and across America that it is time to accelerate the transition from U.S. to full Afghan control. We also remind you that any agreement committing U.S. troops to Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding.
Therefore, at the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, we ask that you announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and security forces and the expedited withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan as quickly as these can be safely and responsibly accomplished.
Members of Congress
Current Signers (91): Adam Smith, Becerra, Baldwin, Bass, Blumenauer, Boswell, Braley, Campbell, Capps, Castor, Chu, Cicilline, Yvette Clarke, Clay, Cleaver, Clyburn, Cohen, Conyers, Costello, Courtney, Cummings, John Duncan, DeFazio, DeLauro, Edwards, Ellison, Farr, Filner, Frank, Garamendi, Grijalva, Gutierrez, Hahn, Hanabusa, Alcee Hastings, Heinrich, Hinchey, Holt, Honda, Jackson Jr., Eddie Bernice Johnson, Hank Johnson, Tim Johnson, Kucinich, Rick Larsen, John Larson, Barbara Lee, Lewis, Loebsack, Lofgren, Lujan, Maloney, Markey, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Michaud, George Miller, Moran, Moore, Chris Murphy, Nadler, Napolitano, Olver, Pastor, Paul, Pingree, Polis, Quigley, Rangel, Richardson, Rush, Loretta Sanchez, Schakowsky, Schiff, Serrano, Sherman, Sires, Slaughter, Speier, Stark, Mike Thompson, Tierney, Tonko, Towns, Tsongas, Velazquez, Waters, Watt, Waxman, Welch, Woolsey, Yarmuth.