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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Don’t amend; END sweeping, open-ended military force ─ U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee

Legislative branch must assert responsibility
Rein in unchecked executive
Editing, re-reporting, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett

Nation under rule of law 
Adjudication in "just" courts of law
Governed by ethically principled people
Or by belligerently lawless barbarians

Dozen years ago
On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives
Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Mr. Speaker, I rise today really with a very heavy heart, one that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Only the most foolish and the most callous would not understand the grief that has really gripped our people and millions across the world.

This unspeakable act on the United States has forced me, however, to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God for direction. September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. This is a very complex and complicated matter.

This resolution will pass, although we all know that the President can wage a war even without it. However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let us step back for a moment. Let us just pause for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.

I have agonized over this vote, but I came to grips with it today and I came to grips with opposing this resolution during the very painful yet very beautiful memorial service. As a member of the clergy so eloquently said, ‘As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.’

2009 ─ forward
Maintaining murderous status quo or searching for an elusive savior

“Once elected as savior,” Infowars.com editor Kurt Nimmo wrote early last month, U.S. President Barack “Obama not only continued [former President George W] Bush’s war policies – in fact, the war policies of the global elite – he also expanded them.

“Troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon and the CIA stepped up the terror campaign in Pakistan. Gitmo remains open.”

[Further, it should be noted that this regime is at war or is engaged in some form of hostility with more than a dozen nations and peoples of the world: Somalia, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Korea, Iran, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Mali, Iraq, North Korea, China, Russia, Egypt, Venezuela

“Democrats [were] so enthusiastic about the murder campaign in Libya,” Nimmo writes, “that they didn’t even bother to vote on it ─ not that Obama gave them a chance. Like Bush before him, he used the unchecked power of a unitary presidency to attack the African country. 

Drone Strikes
“Both Republicans and Democrats love mass murder and military conquest,” Nimmo writes. Former President William Jefferson “Clinton attacked Yugoslavia and Democrats and liberals cheered him on. Congress was silent. Only four Democrats objected: Barbara Lee in the House and Russ Feingold (Wisconsin), Fritz Hollings (South Carolina) and Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico) in the Senate….”
Drone strikes

Silenced opposition

In 2003 as the Bush government “prepared to attack Iraq, President Bush dismissed the antiwar movement as a focus group.” As war criminal President Clinton coined when he bombed the former Yugoslavia with depleted uranium ─ “Democrats deem their war(s) ‘humanitarian.’…  Democrats and other liberal supporters of the establishment are not opposed to mass murder and wanton slaughter by the state. They merely oppose it when Republicans do it. Opposition is a partisan formality.” And with help from across the spectrum, President Obama “demobilized the antiwar movement.”
Referencing a recent study by Michael Heaney and Fabio Rojas of the University of Michigan and Indiana University, respectively, Kurt Nimmo says, “As Democrats took over the Congress and White House,” the U.S. “antiwar movement demobilized.”
Drone strikes

Today a murderous regime
Term two

The journalist, film maker and author, Jeremy Scahill, spoke today on Democracy Now about the rising Obama Government assassination program and the state’s repeated attempts at justifying extrajudicial targeted killing and the destruction of any person or thing that is in the path of these attacks. This is some of what Scahill had to say regarding the U.S. Attorney General’s latest letter text in advance of today’s scheduled speech on the subject by the president.

They play with words and meanings and change them at will. The attorney general refuses to call what they are doing “assassination” but admits they are targeting and killing U.S. citizens without due process of law. Scahill called it assassination and cited among the murdered U.S. citizens by the U.S. government, Anwar al-Awlaki.

[Beginning] in mid-2009,” Scahill said, “the Obama administration had made a decision that it was going to try to take him out. After numerous attempts to kill him with drone strikes, the Americans succeeded in killing him on September 30, 2011.”

A letter by the U.S. Attorney General “talks about how Anwar Awlaki was actively involved in imminent (imminent is variously and conveniently defined) plots against the United States; that he had directed the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a U.S. airplane over Detroit, Michigan, on Christmas Day 2009.” But Eric Holder makes “these allegations … [without] actual evidence ever having been presented against Awlaki to indicate that he played the role that Eric Holder is asserting.”
Awlaki’s “trial was basically litigated through leaks in the press; he was never indicted on any of the charges.” Yet Holder claims to have all of this evidence,” which is conveniently “too dangerous to be made public.” What persist are “posthumous trial by leaks” and the published content of this recent letter by the U.S Attorney General.

Anwar Awlaki is not the only victim of a denial of justice under law. There have been other killings: people targeted and people around them, for whatever reason, who have been destroyed.

“It could mean,” Scahill comments, “…that these people were killed in the signature strikes”…, in a kind of “pre-crime,” that is when ─

The United States determines that military-aged males in a targeted area are terrorists and their deaths [U.S. extrajudicial assassinations] are then recorded as having killed ‘terrorists’ or ‘militants.’ …

“Despite … [the Obama government’s] overtures to the anti-targeted-killing or -assassination crowd ─ where they are trying to say, ‘We’re going to do this in a cleaner way’ ─ the whole thing [drone-attack, targeted extrajudicial killing program] has just been one massively dirty operation”

Callousness oozes from the public record

When faced with survivor lawsuits “trying to compel the government to present actual evidence” that their relatives were involved with terror plots, “the Obama administration and the Justice Department intervened in the case and filed briefs saying that the evidence is too sensitive to be made public.”

The government supplied “declarations from CIA Director Panetta, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, from then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates” all echoing the “too sensitive,” “national security threat” claims. This, Scahill comments, is “Classic Cheney/Bush,” a tactic now being used by U.S. President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace laureate and constitutional lawyer.

xtralegal politically expedient targeted killing is wrong whether or not targets are U.S. citizens.

Scahill continued by stating the obvious, which is well overdue: that the legislative branch of government should insist on answers to, among other questions, “how these Americans were killed.” Equally important as impetus for Congress to do its job is that moral principal as well as U. S. law and international convention assert an essential blindness, which means that whether the victims (and they are clearly victims) of the U.S. government’s lethal dragnet or fishing expedition or entrapment are “Americans or not” is irrelevant.

How a society treats its own citizens is a good indicator of how it’s going to treat non-citizens around the world [and] we have a Congress that largely is failing to ask the right questions,” Scahill said. “If the basic standards of due process are not being afforded to American citizens, then they certainly are not going to be afforded to non-American citizens.”

U.S. Militarized 
Converse also true 

Scahill does not go further in affirming what I believe to be equally true and that has been clearly demonstrated in the actions of successive U.S. regimes. If this government or any government treats other nations and the lives of other peoples with such contempt, belligerence, violence ─ and if a regime is allowed to get away with it ─ then it will surely treat the lives of its “own people” with the same contempt, belligerence and lawlessness.

U.S. Congresswoman 
Barbara Lee
Loyal Opposition
Honorable Barbara Lee

Today at her website, Congresswoman Lee in recalling that she was the only Member of Congress who in 2001 who opposed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and “warned about the state of perpetual war that our nation has now entered” complimented the president’s words in his speech today. She described it as “a bold step” to call for ‘efforts to refine and ultimately repeal’ the AUMF’s mandate.”

ut, she said, “It is far past time to repeal this overly broad, blank check for war.”

In January of this year ─ long before today’s presidential words, long before the death toll and refugees mounted, before anti-American protests and lawsuits, before  hunger strikes and domestic protests erupted ─ U.S. Congresswoman Lee had introduced H.R. 198 to end [not amend] the AUMF. She has also introduced the “Drones Accountability Act.” Today she linked the abuses of power reflected in the Executive’s widespread breaches of international sovereignty and human rights and domestic civil liberties as flowing from the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

The lawmaker said she continues to be gravely concerned about “the use of lethal drone strikes and the current lack of Congressional involvement and oversight. The lethal use of drones,” she said, “is but one example in the disturbing expansion of war powers that have been justified under the AUMF.

This includes wire tapping, indefinite detentions at the Guantanamo prison facilities, and the deployment of troops in dozens of countries without sufficient Congressional oversight

H.R. 198 introduced by Congresswoman Lee in January 2013: CONGRESSIONAL FINDING

“Congress finds
that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.”

Congresswoman Lee said today, “For the integrity of our Constitution, we must ensure that we have full accountability and sufficient transparency in our nation’s war powers.” She pledged to continue fighting “for a full and public debate” on these issues.

Prescient almost a dozen years on

Recalled in a Guardian article, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee said in 2001: “‘we are not dealing with a conventional war.  We cannot respond in a conventional manner. … If we rush to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that women, children and other noncombatants will be caught in the cross-fire … We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target. We cannot repeat past mistakes.’”

he published 2012 interview ends: Congresswoman “Lee believes that as America prepares to move on it should not neglect its responsibility to right those things it has done wrong.

‘We bombed the heck out of these countries.
We shattered lives.
The refugee numbers are horrendous.
We’ve unfortunately killed innocent civilians.
We have a moral responsibility to figure out how to help.’

Sources and notes

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Barbara Lee (CA) September 14, 2001, the Floor of the House addressing the matter of
AUTHORIZING USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AGAINST THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR  RECENT ATTACKS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES September 14, 2001, The Library of Congress (THOMAS Home: Congressional Record107th Congress (2001-2002, Page: H5643, GPO's PDF

“Obama Successfully Demobilized the Antiwar Movement” (Kurt Nimmo, Infowars.com), April 8, 2011, http://truth11.com/2011/04/09/obama-successfully-demobilized-the-anti-war-movement/

Truth11.com  dedicates itself “to the truth, true journalism, the truth movement.” Kurt Nimmo is editor of Infowars.com, http://truth11.com/2011/04/09/obama-successfully-demobilized-the-anti-war-movement/

“Killing Americans: Jeremy Scahill on Obama Admin’s Admission 4 U.S. Citizens Died in Drone Strikes, Thursday, May 23, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/23/killing_americans_jeremy_scahill_on_obama

“Congresswoman Barbara Lee: once the lone voice against the Afghanistan war” ( This article was published on guardian.co.uk at 14.24 EDT, Friday July 27, 2012, last modified at 14.26 EDT, Friday July 27, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/27/barbara-lee-congresswoman-interview

H.R. 198 LEE, JANUARY 4, 2013
Summary: H.R.198 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)
One summary of the bill: Introduced in House (01/04/2013)
H.R.198: Latest Title: Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force
Sponsor: Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-13] (introduced 1/4/2013) Cosponsors (12)
Latest Major Action: 1/4/2013 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

H.R.198 -- Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Introduced in House - IH)
HR 198 IH - 113th CONGRESS 1st Session, Congressional Record References
 H. R. 198: To repeal Public Law 107-40 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 4, 2013

Ms. LEE of California (for herself, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. GRIJALVA, and Ms. EDWARDS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL: To repeal Public Law 107-40.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force'.


ongress finds that the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note), signed into law on September 18, 2001, has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.


Effective 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force 

(Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) is hereby repealed.


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