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Meet 6 Politicians Getting Rich from America's Endless Wars

The "defense" industry is a powerful and influential lobby.

War is a racket, and perpetual war is a money-printing machine. Though the defense industry as a whole contributes relatively little to members of Congress compared to, say, the pharmaceutical lobby, it remains an incredibly powerful and influential lobby. Below are the six members of the House whose primary industry donor in the 2012 election cycle was the "defense" sector. (Numbers are from the Center for Responsive Politics, unless otherwise noted.)

1. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA): $566,100 in 2012 cycle defense sector donations.

It's impossible to talk about defense industry beneficiaries without mentioning Buck McKeon. He became the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee in 2009, and then the chairperson after the GOP took the House in the 2010 election. Donations from the defense sector to his 2012 campaign dwarfed all other House campaigns, with McKeon bringing in a whopping $566,100.

That big pile of money certainly seems to have made McKeon a friend to the military. As part of the House, McKeon doesn't have the opportunity to vote on Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, but he still publicly opposed the appointment, due to Hagel's presumed willingness to back defense spending cuts. A statement on McKeon's website reads in part, “[Hagel's] refusal to shut the door on further defense cuts put him at stark odds with the current Defense Secretary and military leaders.” McKeon is also, predictably, against a round of planned automatic cuts to domestic spending and the military budget, known as the sequester, which he has said could “start costing lives.”

Regarding the US' longest war, McKeon thinks it hasn't gone on long enough. He has called the planned troop drawdown next year, “needlessly fraught with risk,” and said that “our hard-fought gains are fragile and reversible.” If that language sounds familiar, it's because he said almost the same thing regarding troops leaving Iraq. "I remain concerned that this full withdrawal of US forces will make that road tougher than it needs to be,” he said in a statement posted on his website. “These shortcomings could reverse the decade of hard work and sacrifice both countries have endured to build a free Iraq.”

McKeon is predictably hawkish on Iran,  consistently supports providing military aid to Israel, and is in favor of expanding military powers as contained in the 2012 NDAA act, which critics say allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens by the military.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Introduces Bill to Create Department of Peacebuilding

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 808, the “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” to create a cabinet-level Secretary and Department of Peacebuilding. The term “peacebuilding” refers both to activities that target the root causes of violence as well as the broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace. 

“This culture of violence that we live in is unacceptable. On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation. We invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies.  Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

What Mark Warner Asked John Brennan

When CIA nominee John Brennan faced the Senate Select Committee on So-Called Intelligence on Thursday, countless critical and cutting questions had been prepared by bloggers and journalists.  None of them were asked.

Brennan might have been asked why he'd lied about the killing of bin Laden or about the murder by drone program.  He had claimed that every target was known, even though he was fully aware that people were being targeted without identifying them (using so-called signature strikes).  He had claimed that there were zero collateral deaths, even though independent reports have produced hundreds of names, identities, and photographs, and even though the U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan told a delegation of peace activists that there was a U.S. government count of civilian deaths and he wouldn't reveal what it was.

Brennan might have been asked how in the world it can be legal, according to a "white paper" leaked on Monday, for a "high official" to order the murder of a human being, American or non-American, without judicial or legislative or public or international oversight -- or even with such oversight.  He might have been asked if he is one such high official. He might have been asked whether there was a memo to justify the murder of the three Americans thus far known to have been intentionally murdered, since none of them seem to fit the qualifications laid out in the "white paper."  He might have been asked what the procedure would be if two "high officials" disagreed on the desirability of murdering a particular American.  He might have been asked what authority would certify that a targeted victim could not be captured rather than killed.  He might have been confronted with the rise in hostility toward the U.S. government being generated.  He might have been asked about the United Nations investigation of the murder by drone program as criminal.

We Virginians were represented in the hearing room by Senator Mark Warner.  He claimed what he called the "honor" of introducing the nominee, and expressed his pride that Brennan lives in Virginia along with much of the "intelligence community."  Warner hyped his effort to create a U.S. Intelligence Professionals Day (which presumably we'll celebrate silently in our minds), praised Brennan in the vaguest of terms by reading through his resume, declared him ready to be confirmed pre-questioning, and outrageously asserted that Brennan backed "greater transparency" and "adherence to the rule of law."  A major news story in the preceding 24 hours had been the White House's refusal to tell the public or even the legislature exactly what it was pretending that the law was.

The most informative and valuable portion of the hearing was produced by Toby Blome, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Alli McCracken, Eve Tetaz, Joan Nicholson, and Jonathan Tucker, who took turns interrupting the proceedings to ask what needed to be asked.  The message that some Americans do not favor murdering children abroad was thus communicated to the world.  Many others were prepared to add their voices in that room, but Chairwoman Feinstein kicked everyone out except for a handful of Good Americans, and the hearing proceeded with a mostly empty room.  The "Intelligence" Committee is of course used to holding hearings in an entirely empty room with the door locked.

Senator Warner's chance to ask questions, despite having already declared his support, would come later in the hearing.  By that point, Warner had to work with not only Brennan's pathetic written answers to a series of weak questions presented to him prior to the hearing, but all of his answers to other Senators during the hearing up to that point.  Remarkably, during the hearing, on more than one occasion, Brennan claimed to have believed (despite voluminous public evidence) that torture was an effective tool.  He did not claim to have believed that as a child, or to have believed it 10 years ago.  He claimed to have believed it up until last week when he took the time to read part of the Senate committee's report, as he had been shamed and pressured into doing.  He said he was shocked to learn that torture was not an effective tool.  Also during the hearing, before Warner's turn came, Brennan repeatedly refused to call waterboarding torture and claimed that only a lawyer could make that judgment.  Note that he was asking to direct an agency involved in torturing people, identifying himself as a non-lawyer, and declaring that only a lawyer could determine what torture was.  Brennan also, by the time Warner's turn came around, had refused to list the nations in which the United States is murdering people.  He had also repeatedly confessed to having had "inside control" of the underwear bomber.

When Warner's 8 minutes began, one might think he would have had something important to ask about.  Couldn't you have thought of SOMETHING if it was you?  Even without prior experience on the committee (or law school) might you not have thought of something, ANYTHING, significant to ask about?  Wouldn't you have asked specific detailed questions about past performance, about torture, rendition, warrantless spying, lying, or killing people?  Aren't any of those topics worth touching on?

Warner framed his first question as a rambling, time-swallowing speech.  His question was: how can we be sure the CIA director is well informed?  The general vague answer he got to this line of questioning matched the generality and vagueness of the question.  If Mark Warner is afraid a CIA director might be uninformed, why not ask Brennan if he knows significant facts?  Why not ask him how many people have been killed and where?  Why not ask him how many are on the list to be killed?  Why not ask him what the criteria are for getting on the list?  Why not ask how young the youngest person on the kill list is?  Why not express any concern that an "informed high official" might be killing people with the same level of "intelligence" that put so many people into Guantanamo who have since been exonerated of any guilt?

Instead Mark Warner turned to vague questions about the federal budget.  Brennan's response included hyping the extensive "intelligence" efforts within the "defense" department.  Wow, what an opening!  The Pentagon is not supposed to be doing the "intelligence" work.  Everyone knows how disastrously the Pentagon violated that rule in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.  Surely Warner would jump at this bait.

Warner instead moved on to asking Brennan, as many of his colleagues had already, how exactly Brennan would conduct himself in answering questions from the committee if, after he was confirmed, they were to actually ask him any questions. 

By the time Warner might have had a second turn to question the witness, Warner was nowhere to be seen.

He will however be seen at the University of Virginia on Monday and if you sign up you can attend.  Maybe YOU can think of something to ask HIM.  If you need ideas for what to ask and how, or just want to attend as a group, you should get together with a concerned citizen who's planning to attend by emailing shepherd@digitalelite.com

 

Here's who was arrested producing the most valuable part of the Brennan hearing

CODEPINK and other activists arrested during Confirmation Hearing as they call on Senate to Reject Brennan as head of the CIA

During the Thursday Senate Intelligence Committee hearing where Senators questioned John Brennan, CODEPINK peace activists derailed the hearing by speaking out in opposition to the nomination. The activists highlighted Brennan’s atrocious record when it comes to the deadly drones, kill lists, torture and rendition. They held up red-painted hands to symbolize the blood Brennan has on his hands and signs calling for his nomination to be rejected. Brennan was forced to stop speaking several times as activists were carried out of the room by Capitol Hill police. The 8 arrestees include Toby Blome, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Alli McCracken, Eve Tetaz, Joan Nicholson, and Jonathan Tucker, 4 of whom had recently returned from a trip to Pakistan to meet with drone victims. Immediately after the arrests, Chairman Dianne Feinstein called for the clearing of the room, ordering everyone out of the hearing room and not allowing any protesters to return. Protesters chanted “Reject John Brennan” as police led them out of the hearing.

Alli McCracken, a 24-year-old who was a part of the delegation to Pakistan, spoke out when Brennan entered the hearing room and admonished him for his direct role in the deaths of so many innocent Pakistanis. “John Brennan has blood on his hands. He terrorizes children and families throughout the world,” McCracken said, holding a sign that read “Drones Create Enemies.”  “My generation has been at war for half my life. We deserve better!”

CODEPINK member Toby Blome, who held up bloodied hands and a rag doll representing children killed in drone strikes, flew into Washington DC from San Francisco just for this hearing. “John Brennan is responsible for the death of many innocent people and should not be rewarded for these crimes,” says Blome, “It is our responsibility to speak up and reject him, even if our elected representatives will not.”

“Brennan is unfit for office because he’s the architect of the unconstitutional and secret predator drone killings that violate due process and our moral sensibilities,” says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

CODEPINK held a demonstration outside the Senate, with an 8-foot cardboard cutout of John Brennan and a large drone replica. Members of many different peace organizations attended to speak out about the loss of innocent lives at the hands of Brennan’s deadly drone program. Photos are available on the CODEPINK Flickr site.

Also rejecting Brennan is a list of 100 religious leaders, human rights attorneys, and veterans’ groups.

CODEPINK members will be available for interview before and after the hearing.  

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Introduces Bill to Audit the Pentagon

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013” for increased transparency and accountability in the defense budget. This bipartisan bill will cut the budget of any Federal agency by five percent that does not receive an independent audit for the previous year. To protect benefits for the nation’s veterans, military personnel accounts and the Defense Health Program would be exempt from cuts.

“The American people want some basic measure of accountability in the way the Pentagon spends tax dollars,” said Congresswoman Lee.  “The Department of Defense’s refusal to provide an audit is a recipe for financial disaster. As the daughter of a veteran, I grew up believing in the power and patriotism of the U.S. military, but being patriotic does not mean blindly accepting bloated Pentagon spending.” 

Progressive Caucus Leaders Introduce Measure to Replace Sequester and Create Jobs

WASHINGTON — Ten members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), introduced The Balancing Act this afternoon, which cancels the across the board “sequester” budget cuts, achieves a fair and balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction and creates 1 million jobs all over the country. Since 2011, budget deals in Washington have let wealthy corporations and the Pentagon off the hook while cutting more than $1.7 trillion from programs America’s working families need to survive. The Balancing Act brings relief to working Americans by making sure the Pentagon and the nation’s biggest corporations pitch in and do their part to get our economy working again.
 
“Almost $2 trillion has been cut over the past two years from teachers, firefighters, police officers, loans for college students, and infrastructure investments,” Rep. Ellison said.

First Constitutional Amendment to be Introduced in Congress Stating Corporations Are Not People & Money Is Not Speech

Reps. Nolan & Pocan Respond to Over 500 Municipal Resolutions Calling for “We the People” Amendment

On Monday, February 11, Move to Amend will join members of Congress as they introduce Move to Amend’s “We the People Amendment” an amendment that clearly and unequivocally states that: 1) Rights recognized under the Constitution belong to human beings only, and not to government-created artificial legal entities such as corporations and limited liability companies; and 2) Political campaign spending is not a form of speech protected under the First Amendment.

Turning tide? Lawmakers look to Pentagon for budget cuts

McClatchy Washington Bureau

By James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON --As another debt-deal deadline looms this winter in Congress, an unusual alliance of lawmakers has joined forces to put the Pentagon budget under greater scrutiny and to end the almost carte blanche status it enjoyed in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In a letter last month to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, 11 Democratic and 11 Republican lawmakers asked that Defense Department spending be put squarely on the table in the coming clashes over debt reduction.

Talk Nation Radio: Stephen Zunes on Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Obama Part II

Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he chairs the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes discusses the nominations of John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan, and the direction charted for the second term of Obama's presidency.

Total run time: 29:00

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The Progressive Caucus: Enabling Obama’s Rightward Moves?

By Norman Solomon

The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important – and least mentioned – political dynamics of this era.

As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus has heavyweight size but flyweight punch.

During the last four years, its decisive footwork has been so submissive to the White House that you can almost hear the laughter from the West Wing when the Progressive Caucus vows to stand firm.

A sad pattern of folding in the final round has continued. When historic votes come to the House floor, party functionaries are able to whip the Progressive Caucus into compliance. The endgame ends with the vast majority of the caucus members doing what Obama wants.

Wall Street Pulls the Strings: Social Security Under Attack in February

 

By Dave Lindorff


The all-out assault on Social Security has begun.

The set-up for the big battle was the Fiscal Cliff charade. That hyped drama in the last days of December was a moment of truth for the Democratic Party and for President Barack Obama to make it clear whether they were still defenders of the New Deal legacy, or whether they were ready to toss Social Security overboard on behalf of the party’s new constituency: the Wall Street gang.

Joe Biden: Dancing With the Sausage Maker

 

 

By John Grant


Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.

             -- Mark Twain


Hagel Questioned by a Serious Reporter

Communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy, Sam Husseini said today: "With the Hagel nomination, former 'anti-war' candidate Barack Obama continues to appoint individuals to top foreign policy positions who voted for or otherwise backed the invasion of Iraq. This includes Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Robert Gates as well as John Kerry. Those who actually opposed the war from the start have been iced out. In establishment Washington, you get points for being wrong on the most important foreign policy question of your career.

"Particularly noteworthy are the contortions 'reasonable' individuals like Hagel have gone through. For example, when I questioned him in 2007, he said he did regret his Iraq war vote, but argued that it wasn't actually a war vote, couldn't bring himself to say the Bush administration had rigged the intelligence about Iraqi WMDs and gave as reasons for opposing the war things that were known before the war." [Video at WashingtonStakeout]

****

None of this is reason not to oppose the prowar opposition to Hagel's nomination.  But it is worth keeping in mind who Hagel is, including the bit of information that nobody wants mentioned: he owned the company that counted his votes.

The Case Against John Kerry

Kerry is the richest man in the US Senate and has over $38 million invested in companies with military contracts.

http://www.fpif.org/articles/the_case_against_kerry

The Case Against Kerry

By Stephen Zunes, January 3, 2013

Foreign Policy in Focus

President Obama’s selection of John Kerry as the next secretary of state sends the wrong signal to America’s allies and adversaries alike. Kerry’s record in the United States Senate, where he currently chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, has included spurious attacks on the International Court of Justice, unqualified defense of Israeli occupation policies and human rights violations, and support for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, thereby raising serious questions about his commitment to international law and treaty obligations. Furthermore, his false claims about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and his repeated denials of well-documented human rights abuses by allied governments raise serious questions about his credibility.

In the 1980s, during the early part of his Senate career, Kerry was considered one of the more progressive members of the U.S. Senate on foreign policy. His record included challenging the Reagan administration’s policies on Central America, providing strong leadership during the Iran-Contra investigation, opposing U.S. support for the Marcos regime in the Philippines and other allied dictatorships, and supporting the nuclear freeze, among other positions supporting peace and human rights.

More recently, however, Kerry became a prominent supporter of various neoconservative initiatives, including the invasion and occupation of Iraq, undermining the authority of the United Nations, and supporting Israeli militarism and expansionism.

America’s Political Dysfunction at Root is an Unwillingness to Cut War Spending

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

I was asked earlier this week by an reporter for PressTV, the state television network in Iran, if I could explain why the US political system seemed to be so dysfunctional, with Congress and the President having created an artificial budget crisis 17 months ago, not “solving” it until the last hour before a Congressional deadline would have created financial chaos, and even then not solving the problem and instead just pushing it off for two months until the next crisis moment.

 

Crime Watch: American Presidents and their Advisors are War Criminals

 

By Dave Lindorff


Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


America’s Teachers: Heroes or Greedy Moochers at the Public Trough?

 

By Dave Lindorff


I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.  


Feigning Panic at the Cliff's Edge

 

By Dan DeWalt


Thank God for the fiscal cliff. With the election over, the media needed something upon which they could incessantly fixate, and our daily updates on the fate of the cliff-hanger negotiations are plenty of fodder to hold us until we have the final Christmas sales figures to talk about.


Kucinich: Throw out the NDAA, End the Wars and Start Nation Building at Home

Billions to Continue War, Provoke Iran, Shred the Constitution -- All Leading to Perpetual War

Washington D.C. (December 13, 2012) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement on the NDAA: 

“Today, this House will send the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to conference. Contrary to its title, the bill does not provide for the protection of the American people. It expands war. It further indebts our nation. It encroaches on basic rights with regards to indefinite detention. It eliminates the basic tenet that due process rights applies to everyone in this country – not just American citizens.

“The legislation also includes additional sanctions against Iran despite numerous reports that our sanctions are affecting the ability of ordinary Iranians to obtain medicine and offer basic goods. Sanctions have thus far not served to solve the impasse or bring Iran to the negotiating table. More sanctions are not the answer and do not bring us closer to a diplomatic solution.

“This legislation also perpetuates the myth that we are ending the war in Afghanistan. We are not leaving Afghanistan. We are deepening our commitment. This bill provides for another staggering $88 billion for the war. The Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan commits us to the country for at least another decade with a $20 billion price tag.

“Finally, this legislation continues financing our bloated Pentagon. The United States maintains 1,000 bases worldwide.  Some of these bases are infamous, like Guantanamo Bay. There are small bases to support our drones program. There are fortresses to support our wars. 

“The cost to maintain these bases is billions of dollars. Included in these costs are the costs to maintain and run 234 golf courses around the world.

“The Pentagon is expanding their spy agency. The CIA has become a paramilitary organization. We are preparing to support intervention in Mali. Our government’s policy in Syria is incoherent. We are expanding our military presence in Asia and in Africa.

“And for what? For millions of Americans to be unemployed? For millions of Americans to go hungry? For millions of Americans not to have adequate access to education or even healthcare? For millions to lose their homes? For millions to lose their retirement security? For roads and bridges to collapse because we have no money for infrastructure?

“I say it’s time we pay attention to the defense of the American people’s pocketbooks - The defense of the dignity of the American people - The defense of the moral authority of the United States. It’s time to end this state of permanent war. We should throw out the NDAA, put an end to interventionism and begin to take care of things back home.”

House Committee to Vote Thursday on Presidential Power to Murder Without Providing Congress With the Details

This is from Congressman Kucinich:

Washington D.C. (December 12, 2012) – The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on H. Res. 819, a Resolution of Inquiry, introduced by Congressman Kucinich (D-OH), to finally compel the Administration to release its legal justification for drones strikes which targets American citizens and others abroad.

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM tomorrow to consider the resolution.  This vote will determine whether the United States Congress will stick up for the Constitution, Congressional oversight, and for the rights of all Americans.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, this Administration recently conducted its 300th drone strike. Drone strikes are estimated to have killed more than 1,000 innocent civilians. Recently it has been reported that the Administration conducts secondary strikes. The so-called process of “double tapping” includes attacks on the first-responders to the initial attack. The White House claims that strikes against United States citizens abroad are legal and points to a classified memo from the Office of Legal Counsel.  The Administration would be compelled to release that memo and supporting documents under H. Res 819.

“Our strikes are creating a dangerous legal precedent that the world will emulate. From Iran to China, other nations are very close to developing comparable technology. Congress must act to ensure proper oversight and legal authority for the use of this technology.

“Targeted strikes are legal only under a very narrow set of circumstances. Strikes against United States citizens are in direct violation of the Constitution, which guarantees due process rights and the right to a fair trial.  The volume of the strikes and the process of ‘double-tapping’ challenge the legality of these strikes. The Congress and the American people have a right to know what laws the Administration is relying on to conduct its drone program, and how they are being interpreted, especially against U.S. citizens," said Kucinich.

Here Are the 94 Congress Members Who Signed the Letter to Obama Telling Him to Get Out of Afghanistan

Here's the letter and signatures: PDF.

Yes of course they'll still vote to fund what they oppose.  Yes of course they'll cave under the slightest pressure.  Take it for what it is.  It's a start.

Toss Wasteful Weapons Programs off the Cliff

By Rep. Barbara Lee

Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era weapons system designed to fight a phantom Soviet army. The Cold War is over and the Soviet Union long gone -- nonetheless, today we are spending above Cold War levels in real, inflation-corrected terms. It is time to say enough is enough; we need to rein in Pentagon spending after the last decade of unchecked increases, and spend our security dollars wisely on proven programs that can meet our national security goals.

Senate Passes $631 Billion Military Spending Bill 98-0

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com

The Senate has unanimously passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a $631 billion military spending bill, with 98 votes in favor. The unanimity of the vote, according to analysts, was because of a “lack of controversial issues.”

The things that weren’t controversial enough to muster even a single no vote included a new round of sanctions against Iran, a permanent ban on ever transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and continued funding for the occupation of Afghanistan.

Oh, and lest we forget, the Senate version also included the Feinstein Amendment, which nominally was supposed to ban open-ended military detention of American citizens captured on American soil, but was so awkwardly worded and filled with loopholes that proponents of the detention voted for it because they believe it will make it even easier for the military to capture Americans under the new law.

The bill is slightly different from a House version already passed, which is $634 billion. Officials say the two are close enough that it will be easy to solve in committee, however.

Kucinich Calls on Congress to Vote on Return to Rule of Law

Clock Running on Legislation to Force White House to Release the Legal Justification for Drone Strikes

Washington D.C. (December 4, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today urged fellow lawmakers to support, H. Res. 819, a Resolution of Inquiry that would compel the Administration to release to Congress documents which form the legal basis for the targeted assassination of American citizens abroad. Those documents would include memos from the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel.

A Resolution of Inquiry must be considered within 14 legislative days. Unless Congress adjourns before the deadline, Kucinich will be able to call up the bill with privileged status. Kucinich introduced the legislation on November 28, 2012.

The full text of Congressman Kucinich’s remarks follow.

“Before Congress adjourns, this House should vote on my Resolution of Inquiry about the U.S. use of drones. 

“The vote will not be about the thousands of deaths of innocent civilians caused by drones, though that is important.  It won’t be about whether the drones are creating more terrorism.  It won’t be a vote to stop the killing of American citizens without the due process guaranteed by the Constitution.

“It won’t be about whether our ongoing use of drones constitutes violations of the Constitution and violations of international law. 

“The vote will, however, be about something fundamental.  We will determine whether or not Congress has the power to require the Administration to release their still-secret legal justification to use drones.

“In matters of the Constitution, in matters of war, ‘trust us’ is neither sufficient legally, constitutionally, nor is it morally acceptable. I urge members of the House to reclaim Congress’ constitutional imperative by supporting   H. Res. 819, the Resolution of Inquiry demanding the White House produce its legal justification for drone strikes.”

56 Organizations Band Together to Fight Austerity Measures

Jobs Not Wars Campaign: 56 Organizations Band Together to Fight Austerity Measures & Demand Cuts to Runaway Pentagon Spending

www.jobs-not-wars.org

Tax payer dollars have been misallocated – we need a new set of priorities.  Cut billions from runaway Pentagon spending, end war now, corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share. It is unnecessary and criminal to shift the deficit burden onto working and middle class families, the elderly and poor.    

Tell Your Congress Member to Sign Lee's Letter to Obama Urging End to War on Afghanistan

Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan

From: The Honorable Barbara Lee
Sent By: @mail.house.gov
Date: 11/30/2012

Join Bipartisan Letter to President Obama

Urging Accelerated End to War in Afghanistan

Deadline Extended: Wednesday, Dec. 5

Current signers (70): Lee, Jones, McGovern, Adam Smith, Conyers, Grijalva, Kucinich, Woolsey, Holt, Rangel, Slaughter, DeFazio, Olver, Watt, Hanabusa, Rick Larsen, Campbell, Velazquez, Serrano, Sires, Honda, Rush, Loebsack, Lujan, Tsongas, Ellison, Barney Frank, Welch, Schakowsky, Blumenauer, Chu, Quigley, Christensen, John Lewis, Chris Murphy, Mike Thompson, Sarbanes, Markey, McDermott, Towns, Richardson, Cohen, Farr, Waters, Nadler, Stark, Norton, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Michaud, Hahn, Gutierrez, Braley, Speier, McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Garamendi, Moore, Alcee Hastings, Bonamici, Kaptur, Pingree, Edwards, Bass, Polis, Lofgren, Tierney, George Miller, John Duncan, Hank Johnson, Keating, Capps, Cicilline.

 

Dear Colleague,

Yesterday the Senate passed an amendment by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) by an overwhelming bipartisan 62-33 majority calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. I invite you to read this AP article analyzing this groundbreaking vote.

The momentum to end the war and bring our troops home is building, but there are still those working to prolong the war. With the Pentagon due to present alternate long-term option on Afghanistan to the President in the coming weeks, it is critical that Congress catch up with the American people who have long realized that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.

We invite you to become a co-signer to the letter below to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan. The overwhelming majority of Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, believe it is time to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.

To join as a co-signer, please contact Teddy Miller in Rep. Lee’s office at 5-2661 or @mail.house.gov.

 

Thank you,

 

Barbara Lee Walter Jones

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

 

December 5, 2012

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

 

Dear President Obama:

Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan. We are writing to urge you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground. That strategy is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade-long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.

After 10 years and almost $600 billion spent, over 2,000 American lives lost, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. While NATO and Afghan National Security Forces have made considerable strides, no military strategy exists and morale has been undermined by the proliferation of “Green on Blue” attacks. Sixty coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “When our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.”

This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close. Polls show over two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believe it is past time to end our combat role and bring the troops home.

We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people. It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.

Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. There can be no military solution in Afghanistan. It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.

While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed. We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to the defense of Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding. In addition, we would like to request a meeting to discuss these issues directly with you and your staff.

We look forward to working with you.

Congress Plans to Work Less Next Year, Making Planning for Protesters Easier

If you want to nonviolently shut down Congress next year, you'll more than likely find Congress not at home, unless you plan ahead.  Here's their "work" schedule:
http://www.democraticwhip.gov/sites/default/files/2013Calendar.pdf

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