Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First the Testimony, Then the Vote on Money

I saw only snatches of the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before two Senate committees. In what I saw and heard, both from the testifiers and a couple the Senators, I wondered if we live on the same planet. The Senators I heard question Petraeus and Crocker took up nearly all their time with patriotic-sounding speeches with no real questions.

I read later about Senator Biden’s
good question to Ambassador Crocker about whether Al Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was a greater threat to U.S. security than Al Qaeda in Iraq. Crocker tried for wiggle room but Biden forced him down and Crocker conceded that Al-Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was the greater threat.

Today, Petraeus and Crocker are testifying before House Armed Services Committee. Once these niceties have been observed, then the House and Senate will have to take up President Bush’s latest
request for "emergency" funding to continue to pay for the occupation of Iraq.

By pressuring Congress to provide billions of dollars in "emergency" war funding each year, President Bush has tried to hide the true cost of the Iraq occupation by not including it in the Pentagon's operating budget. Representative John Murtha, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, will head up the committee that writes the legislation for this funding request.

Yesterday afternoon I received a note from
Credo urging me to sign a petition urging Rep. Murtha to appropriate funds only for a responsible and timely redeployment of our troops out of Iraq. Former Congressman Tom Andrews and members of the Win Without War coalition will deliver the signatures to Congressman Murtha in person before the supplemental appropriations bill is written.
This strategy makes sense to me. As I read the full text of the petition (you should too if you consider signing it), I was angered again at the President’s actions to date:

Despite clear mandates from your subcommittee and Congress to seek a change in course, Senate Republicans and President Bush have combined to veto measures calling for a sensible withdrawal from Iraq. In January, the President went even further, issuing a signing statement saying that his Administration is not bound by the provision in the 2008 Defense Authorization Act that bars the use of appropriated funds in this Act for the construction of permanent American military bases and U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources.

He also rejected language to establish an independent, bipartisan "Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan" to investigate allegations of waste, mismanagement, and excessive force by contractors.Furthermore, at the end of last year, President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki signed a "Declaration of Principles" providing an outline for negotiating an "enduring" U.S.-Iraq relationship for security, economic, political, diplomatic, and cultural relations. President Bush has rejected the notion that Congress has a role in these negotiations over the future U.S. presence in Iraq.

With these actions, the President has made clear his intention to stay the course in Iraq while deepening the U.S. military commitment for an indefinite time and attempting to tie the hands of the next President.Mr. Chairman, it is past time to bring the Iraq war to an end. The costs are too great to allow it to continue indefinitely. The best course of action in the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill is to provide funding only for the safe and timely redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq and end the occupation.

Will the petition have any effect on Chairman Murtha? I believe so. Does the proposed legislation have any chance of passing the House, and then the Senate? I doubt it. But not to pass a bill or if passed have it vetoed by the President would also deny the administration its “emergency funding” request.

If you believe it is past time to bring the Iraq war to an end, I think this is another worthwhile step.
Sign the petition and support our elected officials who want to bring the war to an end, and put pressure on those who don’t. I signed it. I hope you will too.

- Milo

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