December 19, 2007
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
I write regarding the Declaration of Principles signed by you and the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on November 26, 2007, in which you committed the United States to negotiate a long-term security relationship with the Republic of Iraq.
The Declaration of Principles contains language suggesting that the agreement you intend to negotiate with Iraq may oblige U.S. Armed Forces to support Iraq in combating "Saddamists, and all other outlaw groups regardless of affiliation." I am concerned about the implications of such a commitment, as it could mire us in an Iraqi civil war indefinitely, especially if a sectarian Iraqi government determines who qualifies as a "Saddamist" or "other outlaw group."
Equally troubling is the suggestion by General Lute, your Assistant for Iraq and Afghanistan, that, in negotiating the agreement anticipated by the Declaration, your Administration does not expect to seek “formal inputs from Congress” or even engage in formal consultations with Congress. Yet, the Declaration anticipates that the agreement would include “security commitments” to Iraq in order to “deter foreign aggression against Iraq.” As a matter of Constitutional law, and based on over 200 years of practice, I believe that such an agreement would require Congressional authorization.
In 1969, the Senate adopted the National Commitments Resolution, which expressed the sense of the Senate that “a national commitment by the United States results only from affirmative action taken by the executive and legislative branches of the United States Government by means of a treaty, statute, or concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress specifically providing for such commitment.” The National Commitments Resolution defined a security commitment quite broadly, stating that, among other things, it includes any “promise to assist a foreign country, government, or people by the use of the Armed Forces . . . either immediately or upon the happening of certain events.”
While the Executive Branch has never accepted the definition of national commitments reflected in the National Commitments Resolution, there has been general agreement that security commitments require Congressional authorization. The disagreement has focused on what constitutes a "security commitment." In a 1992 report submitted to Congress by President George H.W. Bush, the Executive Branch defined a security commitment as "an obligation, binding under international law, of the United States to act in the common defense in the event of an armed attack on that country." The report provided a list of U.S. security commitments, all of which were either undertaken as advice and consent treaties, or as congressional-executive agreements, and thus were concluded with Congressional authorization.
I expect that your Administration is using the same Executive Branch definition of "security commitments" in the Declaration of Principles with Iraq as was used in the aforementioned 1992 report. Yet, General Lute’s comments suggest that the Administration will not seek Congressional authorization or even Congressional consultations in negotiating such a commitment. The Constitution and our past practice clearly require that the executive and legislative branches act together in order to provide a legitimate security commitment to another country.
At the core of this issue is, of course, the war power of Congress. A careful study of the Constitution and the intent of the framers as reflected, for example, in statements made at the Constitutional Convention, leave no doubt that, except for repelling sudden attacks on the United States, the Founding Fathers intended decisions to initiate either general or limited hostilities against foreign countries to be made by the Congress and not the Executive. The President is to direct and lead the Armed Forces and put them to any use specified by Congress.
Over the years Administrations that have taken a particularly expansive view of the presidential power to repel sudden attacks have encroached on this original understanding of the war power of Congress. This theory of executive power has frequently been justified on the basis of expediency and practical necessity in view of the nature of modern conflict. But no prior Administration has suggested that the Executive’s power in this area is unlimited or that it applies to ex ante agreements where there is ample time for Congress to participate. Moreover, in my view, the division of war powers specified in the Constitution is both compatible with modern warfare and essential to constitutional government.
A commitment that the United States will act to assist Iraq, potentially through the use of our Armed Forces in the event of an attack on Iraq, could effectively commit the nation to engage in hostilities. Such a commitment cannot be made by the Executive Branch on its own under our Constitution. Congress must participate in formulating, and ultimately authorizing, such a commitment. As stated in the report of the Committee on Foreign Relations that accompanied the National Commitments Resolution in 1969, "[t]he means of a democracy are its ends; when we set aside democratic procedures in making our foreign policy, we are undermining the purpose of that policy."
I expect that the Committee will review this issue in hearings next year, and look forward to close consultation with your Administration. In advance of such hearings, I would welcome a clarification from you on the scope of the agreement you are considering, and the specific security assurances and commitments that it might entail. I would also appreciate a definitive statement from you affirming that Congress must authorize or approve any "security commitments" the United States negotiates with Iraq.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Chairman [Senate Foreign Relations Committee]
The above is a real issue, and maybe we should say that slowly, "r-e-a-l i-s-s-u-e." See, independent media can't find this issue. It didn't pop up this week. Biden's letter was sent last month he released it today at a press conference. But they give us nothing but garbage. Hillary Clinton raised the issue in Monday's debate and you wouldn't know that from the left. From the alleged left.
That's the same left that whines about the mainstream media not focusing on issues, trivializing the election, you know, you've heard all that crap over and over. You know their smug little speeches. You know their self-righteous pose. The week ends for the bulk of them tomorrow. Who bothered to note this issue?
They all wrote their pathetic I-Love-Bambi pieces, again. Again. How stupid do they think their audiences are? The stupid ones are the 'left' gas bags who've wasted yet another a week confessing their love of the groupie scene while failing to act like adults -- mature or otherwise.
While they've wasted their own and everyone else's time, the illegal war has continued. You wouldn't know it from the crap they've offered.
They whine that the press -- they mean Big Media -- won't address real issues but when presented with a real issue, they ignore it all week long. Democracy Now! found time for Iraq when? When they could go over "False Pretenses" with Charles Lewis today. Excuse me, with "Chuck" Lewis today. That's the gathering/tabulation of the lies the administration told about the illegal war. The old lies. And as Lewis noted, it wasn't news to Goodman's audience. But that's all the time she had for Iraq this week. She played highlights from Monday's debate but nothing that passed for an issue and she ignored this:
Hillary Clinton: We don't know what we're going to inherent from President Bush, but there is a big problem looming on the horizon that we had better pay attention to, and that is President Bush is intent upon negotiating a long-term agreement with Iraq which would have permanent bases, permanent troop presence. And he claims he does not need to come to the United States Congress to get permission, he only needs to go to the Iraqi parliament. That is his stated public position. He was recently in the region, and it is clear that he intends to push forward on this to try to bind the United States government and his successor to his failed policy. I have been strongly opposed to that. We should not be planning permanent bases and long-term troop commitments. Obvioulsy, we've got to rein in President Bush. And I've proposed legislation and I know that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are looking at this, as well. We need legislation in a hurry which says, "No, Mr. Bush, you are the president of the United States of America. You cannot bind our country without coming to the United States Congress." This is a treaty that would have to be presented and approved, and it will not be.
But they want to sit at the grown ups table. They whine from the little card table they've been seated at about how unfair it is and how they address real issues. But they didn't address this issue. Goodman or any of them. Don't even get me started on what Matthew Rothschild offered this week. We got smut, we got insults (to all women) and we got the right wing from the alleged left. At least William Grieder had the guts to say that trash himself as opposed to being so chicken s--t that he just linked to it the way one male 'lefty' did apparently thinking that gave him an excuse. It didn't. It only made him more pathetic.
You're seeing a lot of people on the 'left' who know better than try to race 'jokes' but have no problem going into the gutter and degrading women. That's what they've offered up this week instead of Iraq. And suddenly all the silences on the gang-rape of Abeer, while her parents and sister were being shot to death, and the murder of Abeer begins to make sense. The way they've all acted this week, they either think the War Crimes against Abeer and her family were funny or that the 14-year-old girl had it coming. I'm not joking. And on Sunday at Third, we'll go into the worst case of "Smut Merchant" this week. There's no excuse for it.
But that's what they paraded this week instead of Iraq. Tomorrow, in the US, actions begin for war resisters in Canada, they continue tomorrow and they also take place in Canada tomorrow. But we haven't heard a word about that either. A press release in full, which Twyla e-mailed:
Rallies across Canada and U.S. to urge Parliament to let war resisters stay in Canada
On Saturday, January 26, rallies will be held in
cities and towns across Canada to urge the House of Commons to adopt a
recommendation of its Committee on Citizenship and Immigration that would make
it possible for US Iraq War resisters to obtain permanent resident status in
Supporters of the war resisters in Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury, London,
Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Nelson, BC, Vancouver, and Victoria will also call on
Parliament to take urgent action to stop the possible deportations of four of
the war resisters, several with families. This step was also recommended by
the Standing Committee.
On Friday, January 25, there will be demonstrations in the US, also aimed
at urging Canada to let the war resisters stay. In New York, Washington,
Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, supporters will gather
outside Canadian consulates to show support for the war resisters in Canada.
"We believe it is urgent for Parliament to take action in line with the
recommendation of the Standing Committee," said Lee Zaslofsky, coordinator of
the War Resisters Support Campaign. "Canadians would be deeply upset if their
government forces any of the war resisters to go back to the US, where they
would face imprisonment because they decided they would not take part in the
As well as the events on January 26, other events are planned in Halifax,
NS, on January 29 and one was held in Grand Forks, BC, on Thursday (Jan. 24).
"It's great that people all across Canada and the US are coming out to
show support for the war resisters," said Patrick Hart, a former sergeant in
the US Army who came to Canada in 2005 with his family. "My family could be
told we have to go back to the States anytime now. We just want to be able to
live here in peace and raise our son, Rian. We hope that the politicians will
let us do that."
War resisters will be available for comment on January 26.
Please contact us to arrange.
Visit War Resisters Support Campaign for details on events in Canada or Courage to Resist
for information on US events.
That's reality and it's taking place and doing so with little to no attention from the Little Media in the US. That's disgraceful. Vic notes Brad McCall's "From the U.S. Army to Canada: a resister's journey" (The Rabble):
If I went to the United States border crossing right now, I would be arrested. That's right. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago a man hired to transport my vehicle back to the United States was held at gunpoint by a U.S. border guard because he was suspected of being me. Am I really that dangerous?
My being here in Canada is a true blessing. It's a lot better than being in a prison in the United States.
By now, you are probably very curious about what my crime is. Well, in short, I am guilty of desertion. That's right, I deserted the United States Army. But if one digs a little more deeply into what I have done, they may learn the truth of the matter: I am a victim of an unjust system.
I joined the U.S. Army on August 28, 2006, after learning that not only would I be serving my country, as every young man should, but that I would also be receiving benefits such as: Tricare universal healthcare, a $400,000 life insurance policy, a $37,000 Montgomery GI Bill, a $10,000 signing bonus, a dependable monthly income, and, last but not least, career training for when my contract reached its completion. As a 19 year-old kid recently independent from his parents, one might say that I needed what they were offering me. And I took it.
I went through the system fairly smoothly. No discipline problems. No UCMJ actions. No Article 13s. I was just another private swimming through a sea of conformity, trying not to stand out. (Although, when you read Voltaire on your breaks, I guess you’re going to stand out a little). I was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. A soldier in A Company, 1/67 Armour, 4th Infantry Division, I soon became a central focus for many jokes. I was referred to by my fellow soldiers as a "hippie", "commie", and "f****t" -- just to name a few. Times were, well, quite depressing.
Then came the stories from Iraq. Men in my unit who had already served in Iraq were one day explaining the various situations that they had encountered while "down range". One Sergeant explained how he shot a man in an alleyway just for being out after dark. He expressed how easy it was to kill "hajjis" once you did it for the first time. I listened as one soldier told how a specialist in my unit kept a human finger in his wall locker during his entire tour of duty. The laughing ensued as I heard the story of a soldier in another company eating the charred flesh of an Iraqi civilian, the unfortunate victim of an IED attack aimed at American forces. I thought about how callous these men had become, and how horrified I was at the idea of disrespecting human life in such a manner. This is when doubt began to flood my mind.
I began to regret ever signing the dreadful contract that imprisoned me. I became a recluse from my family. I began a rebellion of the mind, realizing that I was no longer a staunch defender of my nation, but that I now wore on my shoulder an emblem of hate and greed. I found alternate news sources to rely on, seeing that up until this point in my life I had relied on conservative news reports. I was building a new me, and the new me could not become an animal, accustomed to the needless loss of human life. So, when I realized that my tour of duty in Iraq was soon approaching, I immediately asked my chain of command for conscientious objector status. I was laughed at.
After repeatedly being told that my claim would be denied, I began researching alternate methods of living freely, without the guilt of forcing the will of imperialism on an innocent people. And then I learned of Canada. Dearest Canada. Pierre Trudeau described Canada as being a "refuge from militarism." After all, hadn't over 100 000 Vietnam era draft resisters fled to Canada? And what better place to go than a place with over 50 000 of those original "war resisters" still living and prospering within its borders. And so the decision was made. I was preparing for Canada.
It continues. That's a portion and may have exceeded fair use but it's the first natural stopping point.
That's reality and we're not hearing that from our 'independent' media. We're not hearing about the the National Priorities Project study. We're not hearing about what's going on in England with the 'sexed up' pre-war intel, we're not hearing about General Dynamics 42% surge in sales thanks to the Iraq War or about the Congressional Budget Office's report on the costs of the illegal war -- something CBO director Peter R. Orszag testified about to the House Budget Committee yesterday and to the Senate Budget Committee today.
It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)
Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3926. Tonight? 3931. Just Foreign Policy's total stands at 1,168,058 (it's not been updated since last Thursday).
The Iraq War hasn't stopped. A real independent media would be covering it. They'd be covering the 'Awakening' Councils, they'd be refuting the 'success' of the escalation. They'd damn well be noting that a bombing in Mosul yesterday resulted in 40 deaths and 220 wounded. Instead, they want to 'cover' the campaigns. Not in a way that matters or they'd be noting the issue of the treaty and how it goes against the US and Iraqi constitutions. They just want to gas bag. They just want to offer what they'd say if they were ever invited onto the Sunday chat & chews. They complain about the MSM coverage but they do nothing to change the discussion (well, they went to the gutter this week repeatedly, that was a bit of change), they offer nothing that's enlightening or informative, they just offer gushing on Bambi and hisses for Hillary. And they want to pretend that they've done something wonderful, something that justifies all the begging for money they do repeatedly. It's pathetic and it's not an 'alternative' to the MSM.
But it does prolong the illegal war and it does prolong the dying and the destruction.
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i hate the war