Tuesday, September 21, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, here come the attempts by prisses to bully you into voting for their candidates, the political stalemate continues (but, they swear, it's almost over), the Amnesty International report continues to get attention, Barack nominates someone to leadership who is OPPOSED to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Rick Warren must be so pleased) and more.
Starting with US politics due to the fact that those working the e-mail accounts are being swamped with the issue. Last week, Libbyliberal's post at Corrente argued for taking a stand by withholding your vote -- due to the continued wars, the continued torture, etc. To which I have added, if you do so, do so publicly. After the election in November -- where Dems are expected to suffer losses -- the narrative imposed will be, as it usually is, that Dems drifted too far left and that the party needs to move to the right. If you're not voting, make it clear why you're not voting. I don't care who you vote for or even if you vote. That's your business. I support the post Libbyliberal wrote and believe she was showing some long range thinking and planning. I do not support the posts that are upsetting so many people. Norman Solomon disgraced himself in 2008 (he was a pledged delegate for Barack and 'forgot' to disclose that while offering 'analysis' on Pacifica -- KPFA finally had to start disclosing it on air due to the large number of complaints that came in to the switchboard). I like Norman and really thought he'd be using this time to rebuild his name (and I'd hoped that was possible). Instead, at ZNet, he wants to tell you how to vote again. And his piece has outraged a number of community members -- especially independents and all Greens -- as has Joel Bleifuss (In These Times). When this site started, I stated all on the left were welcomed. Due to that position, we're opening with this topic.
First, those disappointed by Joel's nonsense, read it again. A Socialist (Joel is a Socialist, I don't know if that's public or not and I don't give a damn if it's not) writing for a Socialist periodical (that is what James Weinstein started) who cannot even correctly identify US Senator Bernie Sanders is an embarrassment with problems all their own. (Bernie is not an "independent," he is a Socialist. Once upon a time, Laura Flanders castigated the MSM for calling Bernie an independent and not a Socialist.) Both Norman and Joel stand at the urinals and cast an envious eye over at the crotch of the Tea Party standing between them. And it's that petty jealousy that leads them to both make offensive statements. Norman:
Despite criticism that once elected, Democratic Party members exchange their social agenda for a corporate one, Solomon said withdrawing support from the Democratic Party isn't the answer, as it hasn't successfully steered it to the left in the past.
". . . you could argue that if ever there was an instance where progressives cost the Democratic Party something big, i.e. the White House, through not voting or through supporting Nader, it was 2000. Well, in no way did that result, in the last decade, per ser, [in] moving the Democratic Party in our direction," he said.
If apples fall far from trees, no one expects them to turn into oranges . . . Except Norman. We'll come back to it because Joel actually helps us establish the point. Joel:
Ten years ago, too many progressives hitched their wagon to Ralph Nader's quixotic star. Vote for me, said he, Al Gore and George W. Bush are "Tweedledum and Tweedledee."
On Nov. 7, 2000, Gore lost Florida to Bush by 537 votes, while Nader clocked in with 97,421 votes. One result? The United States went to war in Iraq. The death toll: more than 3,400 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis (some put that figure much higher), and counting.
Elections do matter.
That lie Joel's pimping? It didn't start two years ago. It started before the Supreme Court awarded the election to George W. Bush. It started, in fact, the day after the election. Norman wants to argue that people voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and that no change was felt all during the next ten years. Are we forgetting what happened? Are we rewriting history, Norman? Why would the Democratic Party have to respond to voters who felt it had gone too far right when everyone was attacking those voters? (As noted before, I voted for Al Gore. I donated to his campaign, I donated to the recounts. But I have never attacked anyone for voting for Ralph Nader.) Not only were they attacked but cheap cowards like Michael Moore, Eddie Veddar and Susan Sarandon rushed forward to issue their own mea culpas and apologize and disgrace themselves. By the time 2008 rolled around, people like Patti Smith would whore themselves out by saying Ralph was great but Barack was popular and you had to vote for popular. (Had record buyers followed Patti's advice back in 1975, she'd just be another ugly girl with hairy army pits muttering bad poetry to herself. When the 'independents' build arguments -- as she did to Spin -- on 'popularity' grounds, the whole country's in trouble.)
Norman wants to act like all of that didn't happen. The Democratic Party never had to address the issue because the enforcers were silencing dissent and rewriting history.
Al Gore lost because the Supreme Court awarded the presidency to Bush. He also lost because Donna Brazile's an idiot and doesn't know how to run a campaign. He also lost because he refused to co-opt the populist argument Ralph Nader was making. He lost because he chose Lieberman as a running mate and, on Meet The Press, Joe waived through all military ballots regardless of postmarks or when they were postmarked. He lost because he tried to distance himself from Bill Clinton who was, is and forever will be more popular and more likeable than Al Gore is. None of this has anything to do with Ralph Nader.
People voted for who they wanted to. Nader voters felt Nader earned their vote. Al didn't earn it. (There are studies which demonstrate that Nader didn't pull from likely Gore voters. I don't dismiss those studies but I firmly believe your vote is your vote and you decide who you want to vote for. No party owns it. The studies are based on the argument that the Democratic Party owns votes and I reject that notion.) By relentlessly blaming Nader both for (a) Bush stealing the election and (b) Gore's inability to fight (during the campaign and after), the Democratic Party ensured they'd never have to answer to the actual issues that allowed Ralph to earn so many votes.
Even if we give first priority to the destruction of terrorist networks, and even if we succeed, there are still governments that could bring us great harm. And there is a clear case that one of these governments in particular represents a virulent threat in a class by itself: Iraq.
As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table. To my way of thinking, the real question is not the principle of the thing, but of making sure that this time we will finish the matter on our terms. But finishing it on our terms means more than a change of regime in Iraq. It means thinking through the consequences of action there on our other vital interests, including the survival in office of Pakistan's leader; avoiding a huge escalation of violence in the Middle East; provision for the security and interests of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf States; having a workable plan for preventing the disintegration of Iraq into chaos; and sustaining critically important support within the present coalition.
In 1991, I crossed party lines and supported the use of force against Saddam Hussein, but he was allowed to survive his defeat as the result of a calculation we all had reason to deeply regret for the ensuing decade. And we still do. So this time, if we resort to force, we must absolutely get it right. It must be an action set up carefully and on the basis of the most realistic concepts. Failure cannot be an option, which means that we must be prepared to go the limit. And wishful thinking based on best-case scenarios or excessively literal transfers of recent experience to different conditions would be a recipe for disaster.
Who made that speech? First hint: Not George W. Bush. Second hint: Not Ralph Nader. Those are Al Gore's words. By the end of 2002, he would speak against the impending war. But in 2002, he was for it. Would he have stayed for it if he'd been in the White House? Who knows. But Joel cannot argue that Al Gore in the White House in 2001 would have meant no war on Iraq and call himself intellectually honest. It's a rewriting of history and requires a gift for prophecy that neither Joel nor Norman posses. (For a more honest version of What if?, see Jeff Weintraub's analysis.)
We don't need scare tactics, we don't need to be told what to do, in fact. Maybe it's past time that Joel and Norman started showing a little respect for adults and stopped hectoring them and trying to scare them. Your vote is your own. Nader voters did not bring about or cause the Iraq War. Nor was voting for Nader in 2000 worthless. What an idiotic thing to imply on the latter, what a complete betrayal of democracy to ever imply that someone voting for a candidate -- any candidate -- that they believed in was worthless. Shame on them both. They need to stop whoring. Why does the left suck such so much today? Because the whores sold out the movement to serve a political party. If In These Times is nothing but a voter's guide, I think their tax code needs to be re-examined. Vote for who you want. It is your vote and you own it. (You also have the right not to vote.) If you're not voting for a politician due to capitulations on the part of the Democratic Party, it would be smart to make that declaration before election day so you can get ahead of the press' most favored narrative "Dems are too far left and out of touch with the people as a result!" Betty, Stan and Mike have long ago stated at their sites that they are voting Green due to the Democrats refusal to support real health care, end the wars, end torture, etc. Jess and Ann are Greens and will be voting Green. And, in 2008, this community endorsed Ralph Nader for the general election. (Ava and I did not endorse. We voted for an independent candidate -- either Ralph or Cynthia McKinney, we're not saying which.) Your vote is your business. I do not tell you who to vote for. Your an adult, you can make up your own mind.
AMY GOODMAN: Surrender at Home, War Abroad You were born in Pakistan. You ultimately went to Britain, where we just came from last night. It's been interesting to see the politics there, but also the devastation of the war, the effects of the wars, on the population at home in Britain. A report in the paper the other day, when we were in London, saying that 20,000 veterans are in prison, mainly Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans, for committing violent and sexual crimes. But what about the war abroad and what President Obama is doing -- says he's scaling back Iraq, still about 50,000 -- actually, well more than that -- military, and you could say paramilitaries with a mercenary armies there, and in Afghanistan, the surge?
TARIQ ALI: Well, I mean, again, let's look at it concretely. Bush had promised exactly the same withdrawal pattern from Iraq: by this time, we will be out. Obama has followed it. They're not going out. What is essentially happening, they're reducing the presence of combat troops and eliminating it in the big cities, and building six huge military bases all over Iraq, in which they'll keep between fifty and sixty thousand soldiers, ready to act when the need be -- just like the British did when they occupied Iraq in the '20s and '30s of the last century. And the British were then driven out by a violent upheaval and revolution in the '50s. So the US is keeping these bases in, (a) to control Iraq, and (b) as a warning to Iran. And I think there's going to be trouble. The war isn't over at all. We've seen, just a few days ago, huge explosions in Baghdad and Fallujah. It's a total disaster and a mess. And to present that as somehow "mission accomplished part two" is a joke. That country has been wrecked, a million Iraqis dead, its social infrastructure destroyed. And in Afghanistan, they are now going from bad to worse. They know, and General Eikenberry knows and says, we cannot win this war militarily. They can't lose it, but they can't win it, either. So, political solution is the only way out, and that means that they have to have an exit strategy. Obama isn't even talking about that, because that might be construed as a sign of weakness. But by who? The army knows what's going on. They can't stay there forever.
The Iraq War is not over. Tariq Ali has the bravery to note reality. Ty Brennan (NWCN -- link has test and viceo) reports, "Over the next two days, 2,700 soldiers with the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team will leave for a yearlong deployment. Of those 2,700 being deployed, 1,500 soldiers are from Idaho and another 600 from Oregon." Where are they going? Iraq. The war's not over. KIVI reports on the "tearful goodbyes" at a send-off ceremony. The war's not over. AP notes Oregon's National Guard is deploying to Iraq again "for the second time in six years." The war's not over. Kansas' KTKA (link has video and text) reports, "A portion of the first Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the Big Red One got their official send off today. 49 News Photojournalist Jon Englert was at Fort Riley to talk with some of the departing soldiers." The war's not over. Vindy.com reports there's a send-off ceremony today at the First Church of God in Newton Falls (11:00 a.m.) for members of the 292nd Engineer Detachment in the Ohio National Guard deploying to Iraq. Jon Edwards, Cindi Remi and Donna Willis (NBC 4i -- link has text and video) report on goodbyes exchanged last night in Marysville, Ohio. The war is not over.
For those service members deploying, for their families, for their friends, it's a little too hard to blindly lie and pretend the war is over just because Barack wants to boost his party's mid-term chances. Michael Dippold (Northern Iowan) points out:
In the wake of President Barack Obama's speech announcing the end of all "combat operations" in Iraq, we are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Our "combat troops" are now out of Iraq, and the war is finally coming to a close. At least, that's how it's being portrayed by the administration and most of the media that's covering it. Unfortunately, the truth that you are not supposed to realize is that the war is far from over.
The term "combat troops" is a contrived way to hide the fact that 50,000 American soldiers are still in Iraq. These troops are still engaging in combat, even heavy combat, and we are still taking casualties. Additionally, according to Justin Elliott of Salon.com, there are still 11,000 armed security contractors in the country.
To me, this hearkens back to the capture of Saddam Hussein, to which George W. Bush declared with his trademark smirk: "Mission accomplished."
Only this time, nothing actually happened to feel accomplished about, and 50,000 soldiers are still stuck in Iraq doing more or less the same thing they have been doing since Hussein's capture.
If the Obama administration and the military are so convinced that we've won, then why not remove more troops immediately?
Now contrast Jeff and Michael's writing with Gary Leupp's "The 'Right Thing' in Iraq?" (Dissident Voice) opens bemoaning the fact that a Fox News poll found 58% of respondents feel that the US "did the right thing" in Iraq. Gary's surprised. He's shocked. Is he for real? Why might Americans think that? Because they're stupid? No. Because they're lied to. And Americans believing that lie today? It doesn't go back to Bush or six years ago or seven. It goes to the liar who insisted 'success' on August 31st. Barack Obama made those statements, you know, the man Gary can't really mention until paragraph 43 of his essay and can't really apportion any blame to until paragraph 46.
Reality, official speak always gets press attention, rarely gets press cricitism. Barack should have been called out for his lies. Instead whores like John Nichols rushed to call his speech "graceful" and others rushed to pretend like the speech didn't take place. Why do so many Americans believe the lies -- the lies that Gary forgets to tell you came from Barack's mouth and made everyone evening news broadcast mere weeks ago? Because a so-called 'independent' media didn't do their job. The most basic push-back that would have taken place had Bush given the same speech was instead set aside for any number of reasons -- none of them having a damn thing to do with peace. Jeff and Michael, college students, are doing what the media is supposed to have been doing. Congratulations to them and the real hope they demonstrate for the future.
Turning to Iraqi politics, Alsumaria TV reports, "Al Iraqiya List senior official Vice President Tareq Al Hashemi announced that Al Iraqiya is set on the priority of achieving its electoral program consisting of change and reform for the coming four years regardless of the positions presently in debate."
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's six months and fourteen days with no government formed.
Kelly McEvers: Parsing out what's happening in Iraqi politics is like reading between the lines of an Iraqi play. [Play heard in the background.] In this performance, the title of which translates roughly to laughter, playfulness, seriousness and love, a member of Parliament gives a speech with grammatical errors. The implication is that politicians are illiterate and stupid. Later he appears to be shocked to hear that an Iraqi family only gets a few hours of electricity a day. The underlying meaning? Politicians are disconnected from the people.
McEvers goes on to quote a member of Nouri's group who, no surprise, says the wind is at Nouri's back and he will remain as prime minister. Might the US object? Of course not. The White House wants Nouri. The White House has backed Nouri, has proposed ignoring the Constitution to keep Nouri (by creating a new position to throw out to Iraqiya as sop). "Privately though they've long been pushing for Maliki to stay in the job," McEvers states of the US. Nouri has stated he will renegotiate the SOFA and that's been more than enough to get the support of the White House. Alsumaria TV reports this morning, "The National Alliance including the State of Law Coalition and Iraqi National Coalition plan to name Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki for a second term, a source from the national coalition told Alsumaria News." Khalid al-Ansary (Reuters) reports the State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance are giving "themselves five days to pick a single candidate for prime minister, and one politician said the incumbent". Those with money to bet might want to hold off or at least recall that the Iraqi National Alliance was also swearing that they'd put the issue before there members for a vote and that hasn't happened thus far.
In today's reported violence, Reuters notes 3 Mosul roadside bombings which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left fourteen people injured, a Nassiriya roadside bombing which injured seven people, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people (including one police officer), a second Baghdad roadside bombing which also injured four people and a Kirkuk roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers and left a third injured.
MALCOLM SMART: Well, I think part of the problem is really a problem of impunity. This has been going on for all too long, and there's a culture of abuse that has taken root. It was certainly there during the days of Saddam Hussein, but what we wanted to see from 2003 was a turning of the page, and that hasn't happened. So we see secret prisons, people being tortured and ill-treated, being forced to make confessions. And the courts, although routinely detainees claim that they were made to sign false confessions, the courts are really not investigating those and coming to grips with them. And the perpetrators are not being held to account. They're not being identified. On a number of occasions, the government has reacted by saying it will appoint inquiries after secret prisons have been disclosed and their locations have been found and prisoners in them have been found to be in a very severely ill-treated position. But the outcomes of those investigations have not been made known.
AMY GOODMAN: Deaths in custody?
MALCOLM SMART: Likewise with deaths in custody. We have in our report details of several cases where deaths are alleged to have occurred as a result of torture or ill treatment. Now, the standard practice of any authority in that situation, required by national law and required by international law, is to carry out an independent investigation. What were the causes, what was the circumstances, of the death? Now, this hasn't happened. And again, we're calling attention to the need for the government to show the political will to take measures against the torturers.
AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm, there were 10,000 prisoners, in your Amnesty report, transferred from US custody in Iraq to Iraqi custody—US basically transferring prisoners to a system that tortures them, unclear what happened to them in US custody.
MALCOLM SMART: Well, part of the problem with the situation has been that the US forces have been detaining people. And, of course, we know from the days of Abu Ghraib and so on, their record has not been a good one. It's been improved in recent times, but at least—so there was some control over the prisons exercised by the US.
Since the beginning of 2009, under what's called the Status of Forces Agreement, the two governments agreed to transfer custody of the prisons and prisoners to the Iraqi forces. Now, many of those detainees held by the US forces had been held without charge or trial for years without any means to challenge their detention. We've not made the claim that all those people are innocent of crimes. If they are accused of crimes, they should be held to account in accordance with international fair trial standards. But many detainees say they've been arrested for reasons that they don't know, on the basis of information from secret informants who themselves may have been tortured or brutalized and named names of people. So, there's not been an independent process. And here, we saw this Status of Forces Agreement at the end of 2008 making the way for the transfer, with no human rights safeguards written into that, although, quite clearly, US forces know that the record of Iraqi forces is a very grim one.
Lt Dan Choi was discharged under the discrimantory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy this summer. Barack Obama, runing for president, promised to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. As Diana Ross once sang, "And I'm still waiting." The most Barack's done is authorized a study to determine the effects repeal of DADT might have. That's it. Viola Gienger (Bloomberg News) notes, "The military discharged 259 men and 169 women last year under the law. As many as 66,000 gay men and women may be serving in the U.S. military, about 2.2 percent of all personnel, including 13,000 on active duty, according to a study by the Williams Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law." This morning, on the eve of possible Senate action (the House already voted in May), David Welna (NPR's Morning Edition) reported:
David Welna: But Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee points out that repeal would actually depend on the President, the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. All three have said they favor repeal, but they would first have to certify that they have dually considered the Pentagon study and that rules have been put in place for its implementation that will not undermine the military. Levin says that's what the provision on Dont Ask, Dont Tell really calls for.
Senator Carl Levin: It does not repeal Dont Ask, Dont Tell. I wish it did but it doesnt. It simply authorizes the ending of the policy if there's a certification that doing so would not undermine the morale of our troops.
David M. Herszenhorn (New York Times) reports that today the US Senate "voted against [56 to 43] taking up a major military bill that includes a provision allowing the repeal of the 'don't ask, don't tell policy' regarding gay soldiers." Lisa Mascaro (Los Angeles Times) points out, "Democrats control 59 votes in the Senate." Ed O'Keefe (Washington Post) opines, "Tuesday's vote makes it almost impossible to ensure a repeal of the 17-year ban on gays openly serving in uniform is included in the final House-Senate compromise version of the defense bill that lawmakers may vote on during a lame-duck session after November's midterm elections." Mark Thompson (Time magazine) offers, "Repeal supporters believe it will be years before another plausible effort can be mounted to allow openly gay men and women serve in the U.S. military. [. . .] Some Pentagon officials believe repeal would have been a done deal if the political calendar hadn't intruded. Gay advocates agree, and also believe repeal could have happened if -- like dozens of militaries around the world -- the U.S. simply dropped the ban and commanded its troops to follow orders, as it did when President Harry Truman integrated the military in 1948." Barack is backing Gen James Amos to be the new Commandant of the Marine Corps because Barack and James Amos see eye to eye, that's why he nominated Amos. And Amos appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
What is your view of the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and its impact on the Marine Corps?
Gen Amos: In my view, the current law (and associated policy) has been a reasonable compromise between the unique requirements of military service and the aspirations of qualified citizens who are interested in military service. I would characterize its impact on the Corps as being minor; about two tenths of one percent (.2%) of the roughtly 626,000 Marines discharged since 1993 were released for reasons of homosexuality.
In your personal view, should the current policy be repealed? Why or why not?
Gen Amos: In my personal view, the current law and associated policy have supported the unqiue requirements of the Marine Corps, and thus I do not recommend its repeal. My primary concern with proposed repeal is the potential disruption to cohesion that may be caused by significant change during a period of extended combat operations. Furthermore, I'm concerned that a change now will serve as a distraction to Marines who are tightly focused at this point on combat operations in Afghanistan. The Secretary of Defense has instituted a comprehensive review of the law and policy, and that review should tell us a lot about whether such a change will be disruptive to unit cohesion. The review will also provide insights into how, if the Congress approves of a change in law and the President signs it, the DoD should develop policy for its implementation.
LGBT rights are not an issue for Barack. They never have been. He didn't need a study to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. He also could have issued an executive order to put a hold on discharges under DADT while it is being studied; however, he didn't do that. And the study does not mean it is repealed. The study is to determine 'harm' which means it could recommend -- as Amos does -- keeping the policy. Barack has repeatedly betrayed the LGBT community and that's no surprise from the man who put homophobes onstage at a campaign events repeatedly.
Amos' testimony served two purposes. First, it refuted all those rumors that James Amos is a public toilet troll. Second, it underscored how weak Barack is on LGBT rights. Listening to Amos pompously go on before the Senate Armed Services Committee today about his wife and how "in our forty years of marriage, she has raised our chidlren and been my assest, she has packed and unpacked" everytime they have moved revealed what a cheap ass bigot Amos is. He needs a supportive spouse but he'll damn any gay man or lesbian who has the same need. He'll treat them like second class citizens (if even that). This is the man Barack nominated and this nomination clearly sends a message. Barack's message? Bigotry will be rewarded and normalized. Message received.
And we'll close with this from Senator Daniel Akaka's office (Akaka is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee):
AKAKA HONORED FOR SUPPORTING MILITARY FAMILIES
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Military Family Association presented U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) with a 2010 Support of Military Families Award tonight on Capitol Hill for his career of advocacy and recent success in passing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act.
"The honor that comes with military service belongs not just with our troops and veterans, but also with the spouses, children and parents who sacrifice for them and support them. I thank the National Military Family Association for this privilege, and for their commitment to our servicemembers and their families," said Akaka.
The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act was signed into law by President Obama on May 5, 2010. The law includes provisions to establish an unprecedented permanent program to support the caregivers of wounded warriors, improve health care for veterans in rural areas, help VA adapt to the needs of women veterans, and expand support services for homeless veterans.
Senator Akaka is Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and a member of the Committee on Armed Services.