Friday, July 9, 2010

Friends Committee on National Legislation - A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest


"To put it simply, all key issues in the Middle East… are inextricably linked." Iraq Study Group, December 2006

Afghanistan: House Vote Shows Growing Support for Responsible Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Just before adjourning for the Fourth of July recess, 162 members of the House of Representatives took a step toward ending the war in Afghanistan by voting to require the administration to prepare an exit strategy, including a timetable to bring U.S. troops home. here

Although the amendment to the $33 billion war supplemental funding bill failed by a vote of 162 to 260, the vote was a clear signal of increasing opposition to the war. A year ago, 138 members of the House voted for a less stringent measure. Last week's vote represented an 18% increase in those calling for a responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan. Those voting in favor included 60% of House Democrats and, for the first time, key Democratic leaders including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey. The exit strategy also drew support from 9 Republicans, 2 more than voted for the similar measure a year ago. (Read FCNL program assistant Kim MacVaugh's analysis of the House vote.) here

See how your representative voted and either thank them for taking a stand against the war or express your disappointment. here

Iran: Obama Signs Iran Sanctions Bill; FCNL Urges End to Covert Ops against Iran to Revive Diplomacy

President Obama signed H.R. 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, into law on July 1, adding to the UN sanctions against Iran passed in June and to unilateral measures taken under executive authority by the U.S. and some European countries in recent weeks.

Although the president said when signing H.R. 2194 that "The door to diplomacy remains open," we at FCNL believe that the multiple new sanctions will rule out any chance of successful diplomatic engagement unless the United States sends a strong signal that it is serious about negotiations.

FCNL wrote to the president this week urging him to send such a signal by suspending continuing U.S. covert operations against Iran. here
A September 2009 order by then CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus leaked to the New York Times in May makes clear that the Obama administration is continuing at least some of the covert operations intended to undermine the Iranian regime authorized by the Bush administration. here Suspending these operations in a way that Iran cannot fail to notice is, in FCNL's view, essential to reviving diplomatic efforts, which are far more likely to win Iranian concessions on its nuclear program and to help the Iranian reform movement than more sanctions.

FCNL's letter also urged the president to publicly invite Brazil and Turkey to resume the mediation that earlier won Iranian agreement to a nuclear fuel swap deal..

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  1.’s Week in Review | July 9, 2010

    Michael Steele’s so-called gaffe (a technical term meaning that a politician has spoken the truth) should be commended, not criticized, said Eric Garris this week in a series of radio interviews. Unfortunately, the Right is not alone in launching an attack. The DNC also chastised Steele, calling his actions “unconscionable” and indicating his statements would “undermine the morale of our troops.” The truth is that regardless of Washington’s politicking, the troops in Afghanistan realize that our policies have left them flailing on the ground, according to Garris.

    And after rubber-stamping additional war funding last week, it’s no surprise that liberals – once upon a time opposed to war – have joined war cheerleaders Bill Kristol and John McCain in the “Get Steele Faction.” Only a few years ago, many of these same Democrats protested the invasion of Iraq, but now that President Peace Prize is commander in chief, dissenters have become a thing of the past. Rather than demanding Mr. Steele’s resignation, we should applaud him for telling it like it is, and for offering the Republican Party an alternative to the increasingly warlike policies of the White House.

    Garris appeared on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA with Mike Pintek (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the Bill Meyer Show of NewsTalk 1440 KMED (Medford, Ore.), and the Karel Show of Green 960 AM (San Francisco, Calif.) to discuss the reaction.

    The Real Sin of Michael Steele
    Chris Norby: Steele Speaks the Truth
    CNN interviews Ron Paul
    Reasons for War keep Changing, Garris said:
    "...none of the stated goals are achievable. When asked how long people must wait until they can see an end to these wars, Garris replied, “When we run out of money.”

    "’s clear that Gen. David Petraeus and his supporters have convinced most civilian policy makers that there is no viable alternative to counterinsurgency.

    It is now up to the heretofore-marginalized Long War skeptics across the political spectrum to remind the American people that there are other options, including a full military disengagement from Afghanistan. As Petraeus takes over a new command to pursue an old strategy in Afghanistan, perhaps such skeptics can confront the COINdinistas more directly. Perhaps there is an opening for a new era – the last era – in this nearly decade-old war.

    For more on Afghanistan, check our Jeff Huber’s Helmand in a Handbag, Rep. Tim Johnson’s Afghanistan: Why Are We Doing It?, and Rep. Ron Paul’s The War That’s Not a War.

  2. Marjorie Cohn, immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild: “Targeted or political assassinations – sometimes called extrajudicial executions – are carried out by order of, or with the acquiescence of, a government, outside any judicial framework.”

    Scott Horton of Harper's: “The Fifth Amendment says U.S. citizens can’t be ‘deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’ If the Constitution prohibits the government from taking your house without giving you a hearing and the opportunity to defend yourself, it seems rather ironic that they might take your life with even less formality and less process.”

    Constitutional lawyer and contributor Glenn Greenwald: “Could the individuals who trust the U.S government to essentially convict people of terrorism and impose a death penalty through imperial decree – i.e., without any trials or judicial review, and based solely on the unchecked say-so of the executive branch – please identify themselves, and particularly explain the basis for that trust in light of this disgraceful and error-plagued record?”

    For more, please see The War Drones On on by Robert Koehler.

    Antiwar Radio

    Antiwar Radio, hosted by our own Scott Horton and produced by Angela Keaton, can be heard five days a week, 9 a.m.-noon Pacific. Among this week’s guests:

    The other Scott Horton, Harper’s contributing editor and human rights lawyer. Horton discusses Chicago police torturer John Burge, the fake effort to close Gitmo, and how the British courts are standing up to the British government on state secrecy and the concealment of torture. “It shows you there is a way for a new government – coming in after one was involved in torture – can credibly deal with the allegations by undertaking an inquiry. Barack Obama said, ‘Don’t look back,’ and the government in Britain said, ‘No, actually, we’re sworn to uphold the law, so of course we’re going to look back at what happened and we’re going to have an independent inquiry.’”
    Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson details the awareness of both Powell and Cheney that large numbers of innocent people were sent to Guantanamo and examines the complete lack of evidence collected for each person captured. “The philosophy was if you have one terrorist in jail, who cares if you have 500 innocent people in jail, it’s worth it… that’s the philosophy that Vice President Dick Cheney exercised all the time.” Given all the children and 90-year-olds as well as British and Australian citizens who were sent to Gitmo – rounded up by Pakistanis who received $5,000 per capture – the odds of them all being terrorists were pretty slim.

    Renowned economist Robert Higgs, author of Crisis and Leviathan. “Social collapses and particularly government collapses generally portend even greater totalitarianism. … In general, when there is some kind of collapse of society or economy, almost everybody becomes tremendously fearful and they look for salvation. Where they look for salvation and how they expect to find it hinges entirely on the dominant ideology that those people hold at the time, and right now I’m afraid to say, the dominant ideology in the U.S. is anything but propitious for the cause of liberty.”

    (Yet blogger here does want to add that Peace Action (perhaps the longest respected peace group in the US - since 50's and Tom Haydn (long time peace activist famous for his stand on Vietnam ) both do say they are suddenly seeing a turn for the better...

  3. New CENTCOMM Commander: Shooting People is Fun

    The Pentagon has announced that Gen. James Mattis will replace Gen. David Petraeus as Central Command (CENTCOMM) Commander, writes Jason Ditz. Mattis not only called his time in Afghanistan “a hell of a hoot” but he has also proudly admitted that shooting people is “fun.” Need we say more?

    Death by Remote

    As Obama touts the right to target and kill U.S. citizens, William Fisher asks the obvious question in Death by Remote: what if we get the wrong guy? “There are no do-overs.” Are these executions governed by the Constitution or the laws of war? Or any laws at all? Fisher consults the experts.