Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why the Progressive Caucus Should Vote No on War Money


The Supplemental spending bill proposed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi funds the war. It gives Cheney and Bush roughly another $100 billion. And you can be quite sure they will spend it as they choose, which may include attacking Iran. In fact, a measure in the bill requiring Bush to get Congress's approval before attacking Iran (an attack that would violate the US Constitution and the UN charter) has been removed.

The bill also requires Iraq to turn much of its oil profits over to foreign corporations. This illegally rewards the Bush and Cheney gang for their illegal war.

Beyond that, the bill does a number of things to nudge Bush in the direction of limiting the war, but most of them are for show.

This bill pretends to ban torture. Torture was always illegal. The framers of our Constitution sought to leave such practices behind in England. The US is a party to international treaties banning all torture. Nonetheless, the last Congress, the Republican Congress, banned torture, and Bush used a signing statement to announce his intention to ignore the ban. Now Pelosi wants credit for pretending to ban torture again. You cannot ban torture under a dictator who has publicly announced that he will ignore your bans. You can only end torture by ending the pretense that there is not a dictator living in the Vice President's house.

The bill also intends to pretend to limit how many days a soldier or Marine can be kept in Iraq. The Republican Congress did this in 2003, and Bush threw it out with a signing statement.

Some previous presidents had used signing statements, but never to announce their intention to disobey the law. And in many cases, including the two I've just mentioned, we know that Bush has in fact disobeyed those laws.

And don't imagine thatNancy Pelosi is unaware of this. She's a step ahead of you. She's included in the bill a right for the president to waive the restrictions. So, this time, no signing statement will be needed. Instead we'll get a waiver. I'm sure that'll make the soldier on his or her third tour of Iraq feel better when they're told that they're going to stay a little longer this time. In polls last year our troops in Iraq said they wanted to all come home last year.

What else does the Pelosi bill do? Well, it requires Bush to report periodically that progress is being made, and then at sometime next year, depending on what Bush claims, it requires at least some troops to move to Afghanistan. Congressman Obey says that's where the war should be. The bill says nothing about bringing anyone home, and nothing about leaving no permanent bases in Iraq. In fact, it includes so many loopholes - for protecting bases, protecting other troops, training Iraqis - that most US troops will be able to stay in Iraq forever.

[Read More -> David Swanson,]

I don't think that Pelosi has the votes to get this thing passed. Send it back to Appropriations, and fully fund withdrawal. Prohibit spending on an attack on Iran without explicit Congressional approval, beyond what unfortunately already exists in the Iran Freedom Support Act from the last session.

Also, please put the non-emergency pork in the regular budget, or fund my request for Aceh biodiversity conservation, reforestation, fair-trade rubber marketing and niche markets research, and village scale production of biodiesel from rubberseed oil...

I really don't know what will happen, but this is not the best possible bill. It is not even a good one, or half of what it is being misrepresented to be.

In other news, John Edwards is probably suspending his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

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