Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Campaign to End Endless War Begins Here in Pasadena!


I am thrilled to report we successfully launched our LA campaign to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) with a visit to the office of Rep. Judy Chu, where we met with her aide Matthew Hovsepian. The following people took part in our dynamic intefaith delegation:
  • Grace Dyrness, president of ICUJP and a professor at USC, who travels around the world giving workshops and consulting with nonprofits.
  • Bert Newton, Mennonite activist, organizer of the Palm Sunday Peace Parade and author of "The Subversive Gospel of John."
  • Rabbi Joshua Grater, Pasadena Jewish Temple
  • Randy Christopher, director of the Peace and Justice Academy
  • Madeleine and Audrey Cameron, students at PAJA, and winners of the city-wide MLK essay contest
  • Cody Lowry, Quaker opera singer
  • Tarek Shawky, Muslim lawyer, member of the Northwest Commission

Hovsepian was very cordial and took notes as we shared our views. He made it clear that Rep Chu has focused mainly on domestic issues, where she had taken liberal positions. He also mentioned that when the US threatened to bomb Syria because of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons, he received 450 letters from constituents urging Rep Chu not to authorize bombing Syria, and only 8 responses in support of bombing. I told Matt this demonstrates that Pasadenans mostly favor nonviolent solutions to conflict, and they would support repealing the AUMF.

Furthermore, nonviolent solutions often work better than violent responses. Trillions have been spent, and countless lives lost and ruined, on war since 9/11, with little good to show for it. Thanks to diplomacy, we have set up a process that will lead to the destruction of Assad's chemical weapon stockpile without firing a shot or killing anyone, and negotiations are under way to ensure that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.

I shared with Matt the AFSC/FCNL study "Shared Security" that shows how nonviolent methods have been used successfully to resolve conflicts in various parts of the world.

We asked that Rep Chu make a public statement in support of Adam Schiff's bill to repeal the AUMF. Matt said he would bring up this matter with Rep Chu.

We felt it was a good meeting. We planted a seed of peace that will hopefully grow as we continue to meet with Matt and eventually with Judy Chu as well. It takes time to help people see that peace making really is preferable to war.

Here is what we shared with Rep Chu's aide, including my introductory remarks:

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I want to thank Rep. Chu for her liberal stand on many social and domestic issues. I regard her as liberal in the best sense of that much maligned word— “progressive, broad-minded, unprejudiced, and charitable.”  I think we are generally in agreement with her positions on health care, foreclosure prevention, job creation, education, immigration, renewable energy, LGTBQ issues, worker rights, etc.

However, we’d like her to take a stronger stand on peace making. As long as we have a bloated military, fighting futile wars all around the world, there won’t be enough funds to meet the urgent domestic needs of Americans. Here in Pasadena, the Housing Department’s budget has been cut 85%, yet 23,000 Pasadenans are in need of affordable housing. We have over 700 homeless people on our streets and the government is cutting funds to shelters and Section 8. According to a recent study, nearly 23% of Californians live in poverty.

 We are here to tell Rep Chu we need to end endless wars so that we can end poverty and show the world that we are a truly a nation of peace and justice for all. This is the message of Martin Luther King and the religious leaders who have come here today—and many more who wanted to be here, but couldn’t because of scheduling issues. We want Rep Chu to stand with Rep Adam Schiff and publicly call for the repeal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. We want Rep Chu to let her constituents know that she rejects targeted assassinations and military interventions, and supports a nonviolent and diplomatic approach to resolving international conflict.

1)     We agree with Adam Schiff that Congress never intended to give the President authority to engage in a perpetual war to combat terrorism without the oversight of Congress. It is time to sunset the AUMF.

2)     We support Rep Barbara Lee, who was the lone Congress member to oppose the AUMF initially and has called  for a complete listing of all instances in which the AUMF has been used. According to Rep Lee, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report lists 30 instances where the AUMF has invoked by Presidents Bush and Obama, including to deploy troops in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Georgia, and Yemen, justify detentions at Guantanamo Bay, and conduct military commissions.

3)     We oppose the way that the AUM has been used to justify drone warfare, targeted assassination, NSA spying, “black sites,” torture, Guantanamo detention, and interventions in various counties, from Ethiopia to Yemen.

4)     We disagree with the assumption that the best way to combat terrorism is through violence, like targeted assassination, drone warfare, etc. We are convinced that the use of drones is immoral, illegal and counterproductive.

5)     We feel that the best defense against terrorism is “shared security,” using diplomacy, legal action (such as international courts) and other nonviolent means.

6)     We agree with the President that Guantanamo must be closed. We believe that all prisoners under US custody should be given a fair trial with due process, as we did with Nazi war criminals. Most Guantanamo prisoners are not criminals, however, and have been cleared of all charges. They should be released without delay to the country of their choice.

7)     Funds should be diverted from our bloated military budget to social needs, like schools, health care, and affordable housing. Our best defense is a strong economy with benefits shared by all, not just by the 1%.

8)     We have spent trillions on war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have nothing to show for it. There was no Al Qaida forces in Iraq; now they are fighting a civil war against Iraq’s Shi’a government, and also fighting in Syria. Life has gotten worse, not improved, for Iraqs, millions of whom fled to Syria. Because we support rebel forces in Syria, violence has increased and refugees are flying to Lebanon and Jordan, creating more instability. Our military interventions are worsening conditions for people around the world and sowing the seeds of hatred, which will eventually lead to more terrorist attacks against Americans. By objective measures, our military exploits since 9/11 have been a complete failure. It is time to try nonviolent alternatives. As Einstein said, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over gain and expect different results.

 

Rep. Adam Schiff To Introduce Legislation to Sunset Authorization for Use of Military Force
Monday June 10, 2013
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, announced that he was introducing legislation tomorrow – before the debate on the National Defense Authorization Act begins this week – that would sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) beginning in 2015. Following the September 11 attacks, the Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force to provide the President with requisite authorization to use “force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Schiff's legislation finds that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) now poorly defines those who pose a threat to the country, and that it should expire concurrent with the end of our combat role in Afghanistan. The bill sunsets the AUMF effective December 31, 2014.

“When Congress passed the AUMF shortly after 9/11, we did not intend to authorize a war without end,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “The cessation of our combat mission in Afghanistan next year is a logical end point for an authorization that now provides a poor description of the groups which threaten us, and an increasingly precarious legal rationale for going after them. As the President observed recently, if we don't define the nature of the threat we face, it will define us.”

Since the AUMF passed, the U.S. has invaded Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban and routing the core of Al Qaeda. The authorization has also been used to support targeted strikes against Al Qaeda's operatives in other countries, and used as a basis to detain terrorists at the facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The country now face threats from individuals, entities and organizations that may affiliate with al Qaeda, or share its ideology and its determination to attack Americans, but which may not have even been in existence on September 11, 2001. With the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan and the transition to Afghan national security forces at the end of 2014, it is time for the President and Congress to work together to determine a proper legal basis for protecting the country going forward. The bill will effectively give Congress the next 18 months to do so.

In his recent speech at the National Defense University, President Obama specifically called on Congress to work with him. “I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate,” Obama said. “And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end.”

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2013
Contact: Carrie Adams (202) 225-2661
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) surrounding the presidential utilization to undertake military and other actions under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was enacted in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
“As the only Member of Congress to vote against the AUMF on September 14th, 2001, I have been deeply concerned about this overly-broad blank check for war,” said Congresswoman Lee. “I knew then, as I know now, that it gives any president the nearly unlimited authority to wage limitless war at anytime, anywhere, for any reason, in perpetuity. Until this report, we did not have a public accounting of the number of times that it had been cited. I’m certain this will prove a useful tool for my colleagues and the American people and help shine a spotlight on the uses of the AUMF.”
The report lists 30 instances where the AUMF has invoked by Presidents Bush and Obama, including to deploy troops in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Georgia, and Yemen, justify detentions at Guantanamo Bay, and conduct military commissions. The data from this report includes information gleaned solely from two publicly available GPO publications: Federal Register and Compilation of Presidential Documents.
“What continues to concern me, however, is that this information is based on what is only publically reported. We don’t know the further, full extent, including the ongoing use of lethal drones, surveillance, unlimited detention, and other actions where the AUMF has been used as justification,” said Congresswoman Lee.
Congresswoman Lee has consistently called for repeal of the AUMF; to that end, in the 113th Congress, Congresswoman Lee introduced HR 198. In addition to her ongoing efforts, this week, Congresswoman Lee will introduce an amendment to the 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill which would require the Department of Defense to produce a comprehensive report on the uses of AUMF, in both classified and unclassified forms, to bring further accountability and Congressional oversight on this issue.

Rep. Adam Schiff To Introduce Legislation to Sunset Authorization for Use of Military Force

Monday June 10, 2013

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, announced that he was introducing legislation tomorrow – before the debate on the National Defense Authorization Act begins this week – that would sunset the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) beginning in 2015. Following the September 11 attacks, the Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force to provide the President with requisite authorization to use “force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Schiff's legislation finds that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) now poorly defines those who pose a threat to the country, and that it should expire concurrent with the end of our combat role in Afghanistan. The bill sunsets the AUMF effective December 31, 2014.

“When Congress passed the AUMF shortly after 9/11, we did not intend to authorize a war without end,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “The cessation of our combat mission in Afghanistan next year is a logical end point for an authorization that now provides a poor description of the groups which threaten us, and an increasingly precarious legal rationale for going after them. As the President observed recently, if we don't define the nature of the threat we face, it will define us.”

 

 

 

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