Wednesday, December 12, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nancy Pelosi makes ridiculous and revisionary statements on the Iraq War, Amnesty calls out Iraq's forced 'confessions,' UNICEF explains the realities for Iraqi children, a bomb goes off in an Iraqi prison, and more.
We'll start in the US. We've got good Congress/bad Congress. In one corner, a member who stays focused on the work and actually accomplishes a great deal. In the other corner, a drama queen who thinks everything in the world happens only to her.
Let's reward good work by noting Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee whose office issued the following today:
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Tomorrow: Murray to Attempt to Pass Bill Allowing Catastrophically Wounded Veterans to Start Families
Murray bill will end ban on in vitro fertilization at VA; provide needed assistance to veterans with major reproductive injuries who are now paying out-of-pocket for expensive fertility procedures
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, Thursday, December 13th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, will head to the Senate floor to call for unanimous consent on her Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, which builds upon previous law to improve VA services for women veterans and veterans with families and ends the ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF) services at VA to help severely wounded veterans start families. Senator Murray will share the story of Tracy Keil, the spouse of a severely wounded OIF veteran, and her family's experience with VA's fertility services.
Pentagon data shows that since 2003 nearly 2,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered pelvic fractures and genitourinary injuries that could affect their abilities to reproduce. In particular, the reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the use of improvised explosive devices has left service members far more susceptible to these injuries. Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive. However, under regulations, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses. This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and urinary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA. The Department of Defense currently provides access to IVF services and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers. Senator Murray's bill would provide veterans with the same access. Read more about Senator Murray's bill HERE.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
WHAT: Senator Murray will give a speech in support of the Women Veterans and
Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, will seek unanimous consent
on the bill
WHEN: TOMORROW: Thursday, December 13th 2012
Approximately 10:15 AM ET/ 7:15 AM PT (this may change depending on floor
That was the good. Now for the bad, my own House Rep, Nancy Pelosi. Today's nonsense involved Iraq so we can just ignore her. Sabrina Siddiqui (Huffington Post) reports on Nancy's latest bottle of sour whine. Pelosi uncorked the crazy to try and give Speaker of the House John Boehner advice. From the article:
"The emotion in the  election was about ending the war in Iraq … and people thought that when the people had spoken, that something would happen to that effect," Pelosi said. She went on to explain how Congress passed a bill that continued to fund military operations in Iraq but included a timetable for withdrawal, a measure that was vetoed by President George W. Bush.
"I as speaker had to make a decision as a Democratic speaker in a new Democratic majority -- [that was] very enthusiastic about ending the war in Iraq -- to bring a bill to the floor that funded the troops," Pelosi recalled. She added that a bifurcated strategy was enacted to split the legislation into two pieces -- domestic spending and war appropriations. An overwhelming majority of 348 members voted for the domestic piece of the bill, while the $100 billion in funding for wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan passed 280 to 142, with 140 Democrats -- including Pelosi herself -- voting against it.
People thought the war would end because people were promised it would by . . . Nancy Pelosi. She wants you to know today that the problem was they passed a bill but Bully Boy Bush vetoed it.
Really because I do recall her little presentation to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board and staff. I do recall who Nance blamed them. It wasn't Bush. It was Harry Reid. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. As we noted in the May 29, 2008 Iraq snapshot:
"The House has always voted to have the redeployment of the troops out. . . . From the House we have always fought but the senate [let's voice trail off into silence]" I'm not really sure the best way for the Speaker of the House to conduct themselves is to declare war on the Senate semi-privately. Maybe a war between the two houses of Congress is what it will take to end the illegal war? If so, Pelosi needs to take her comments to a very public forum which, apparently, this meeting was not since it was not reported on. She further [insisted] of the Democratically controlled Senate, "they are guarding the president's desk."
In 2008, she was blaming the Senate -- Democratically controlled.
She's always got someone else to blame.
Anyone could have ended the war spending at any point by standing up and filibustering. But Nancy made clear there would be hell to pay. And that petty and vindictive streak is why she refused to restore Cynthia McKinney's senority. It's why she threatened all sorts of punishments against John Conyers (including losing his position as Chair of the Judiciary Committee) if he went forward with attempts at impeachment.
Nancy Pelosi was a lousy Speaker of the House. In every way. We noted at one point that she couldn't even handle a press conference on Iraq (Rahm had to save her ass and the conference -- see the April 3, 2008 snapshot if you need to refresh or catch up). She made up excuses, she blamed the Senate, she blamed this, she blamed that.
At the end of the day, she is the one who told America that if the Democrats got one house -- just control of one house of Congress -- the war would come to an end. That's the promise she made. Voters gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress in the November 2006 mid-term elections. She can lie all she wants but she didn't keep her promise. She bullied members of Congress who actually tried to end the war. And the vote Huffington Post is referring to? Nancy pissed off two Democrats (against the war) with her strong arm tactics. She made sure it would pass. And she made sure she'd be able to vote against it without tanking it. She's a con artist. That's all she is. She said, "Give me this and I will give you that." She didn't keep her promise. That's on her. That's not on Harry Reid, that's not on John Conyers, that's not on Cynthia McKinney or Maxine Waters or Lynn Woolsey. That's on Nancy Pelosi. Part of leadership is taking accountability for your failures.
She still can't do that and is quoted saying, "I had to do it as speaker -- do you know what it was like for me to bring a bill to the floor to fund the war in Iraq, a war predicated on a misrepresentation to the American people? So it's tough, but you have to do it. Is the point that you don't want to put your members on the spot? Figure it out -- we did. Figure it out."
She's bragging about the 'tough' thing she had to do. She's bragging about breaking her promise and continuing an illegal war. She's bragging about continuing to fund an illegal war. That last brag? That could actually bring you up on charges in a War Crimes court.
It was so hard, Nancy I-Me-I,-as-Speaker- Pelosi wants us all to know, so hard for her. I think it was harder, for example, for Lt Ehren Watada to stand up to the US government and refuse to fight in an illegal war. Poor Nancy's always mistaken a chipped nail for personal tragedy. Spare us the drama.
Nancy's not the only one serving up Congressional Crazy. We've noted how, since 2009, Senator Jack Reed's been rather inconsisten on Iraq in Senate hearings (repeatedly). Kori Schake (Foreign Policy) covers his latest: Insisting that an Afghanistan drawdown won't be at all like the Iraqi drawdown because that was Bully Boy Bush. Schake offers this fact check:
An arbitrary end to "combat" operations in Iraq in August 2010, confining U.S. forces to a support role nowhere required in U.S.-Iraqi agreements made in the Bush Administration and curtailing the effectiveness of our contribution.
Not confronting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as he used the courts and security forces against domestic political rivals.
Having expressed no interest in the importance of Parliament for the 18-month stalemate after the shamefully manipulated outcome of Iraq's elections, insisting that any agreement on future presence of U.S. military forces must be approved by that Parliament, leading to the breakdown of negotiations on any long-term stationing.
A ridiculously extravagant and unexecutable plan for civilian presence after our military withdrawal that conveyed the lack of seriousness in our involvement.
Not investing any political capital in coalescing neighboring states into support of a government emerging from international isolation.
And, having achieved "an end to the war in Iraq," President Obama seems not to care whether that war continues, only that we not be participants in it.
Today UNICEF released the results of a survey. The UN News Centre hails it as "the most comprehensive survey on the situation of women and children in Iraq" and it's findings include:
* 32% of Iraqis under the age of 18 lack basic services
* only 10% of Iraqi children had "access to all basic services" and rights while 32% did not -- that's 1.7 million had it, 5.3 million didn't
* 1/4 of all Iraqi "children have stunted physical and intellectual development due to under-nutrition"
* 9 out of 10 Iraqi children are enrolled in primary school, only 4 out of 10 will complete primary school
* "1 in 3 children -- 3.3. million -- are subjected to severe violent discipline methods."
Along with the work with Iraqi children in Iraq, UNICEF is also working with Syrian children who've come to Iraq as refugees (UNICEF is working throughout the region, we're focusing on Iraq). In Iraq, the Syrian refugees have been welcomed into the Kurdistan Regional Government (Nouri sat up a problematic camp in Anbar Province -- we've covered its problems before). While the KRG has been much more open armed to the refugees, the KRG is also, because it's in northern Iraq, colder. UNICEF has a Keep Them Warm Campaign right now for the 1.2 million Syrian children who have been displaced in Syria and the 650,000 who have sought sanctuary in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Click here for more on that. It is the holidays and many people look for something charitable to donate to. If you would like to donate to UNICEF, click here (you can donate online or you can print up the form and send it in via regular e-mail). UNICEF is an organization I believe in and contribute to. That doesn't mean you have to give. You may not have money to give. You may not want to give. You may feel something else is a more worthy cause. I'm not trying to guilt anyone but, due to the season, we are noting worthy causes. The economy remains horrible. No one should feel badly if they're unable to give to any organization or charity. It's your business and it's your money. I'm just tossing it out here for any who are interested.
UNICEF's not the only visitor in the region. US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was in Kuwait. He visited the US troops present. Remember them? Dropping back to the June 19th snapshot:
Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council." On page v., Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, notes, "Home to more than half of the world's oil reserves and over a third of its natural gas, the stability of the Persian Gulf is critical to the global economy." Chair John Kerry has stated of the report, "The Gulf Region is strategically important to the United States economically, politically, and for security reasons. This is a period of historic, but turbulent change in the Middle East. We need to be clear-eyed about what these interests are and how best to promote them. This report provides a thoughtful set of recommendations designed to do exactly that."
[. . .]
Further into the report, we get the point AP' was emphasizing this morning. AP: "The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report." Page nine of the report:
A residual American military presence in the Gulf and increased burden-sharing with GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states are fundamental components of such a framework. However, the United States must also carefully shape its military footprint to protect the free-flow of critical natural resources and promote regional stability while not creating a popular backlash.
Kuwait is especially keen to maintain a significant U.S. military presence. In fact, the Kuwaiti public perception of the United States is more positive than any other Gulf country, dating back to the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Kuwait paid over $16 billion to compensate coalition efforts for costs incurred during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and $350 million for Operation Southern Watch. In 2004, the Bush Administration designated Kuwait a major non-NATO ally.
* U.S. Military Presence: A U.S.-Kuwaiti defense agreement signed in 1991 and extended in 2001 provides a framework that guards the legal rights of American troops and promotes military cooperation. When U.S. troops departed Iraq at the end of 2011, Kuwait welcomed a more enduring American footprint. Currently, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait, but the number is likely to decrease to 13,500. Kuwaiti bases such as Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Field, and Camp Buehring offer the United States major staging hubs, training rages, and logistical support for regional operations. U.S. forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense.
Today in Kuwait City, Secretary Panetta met with Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait. The secretary expressed strong confidence in the long standing U.S.-Kuwaiti defense relationship, and in the ability of both countries to work together to address common security challenges in the Gulf region and beyond. The secretary underscored the importance the U.S. defense strategy places on the Middle East, and he commended the Amir for Kuwait's leadership role in fostering peace and security in the region. The secretary and the Amir also discussed the crisis in Syria, the problem of cyber threats, and Kuwait's recently completed parliamentary elections and on-going commitment to the rule of law.
The Pentagon notes he also met with Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah and "underscored the importance the U.S. defense strategy places on the Middle East, and commended the emir for Kuwait's leadership role in fostering peace and security in the region."
On the visit to Kuwait, AP's Robert Burns Tweeted:
URGENT ACTION DEATH SENTENCES AFTER COERCED 'CONFESSIONS' Four Iraqi men were sentenced to death on 3 December following the broadcast of their coerced "confessions", taken while they were held incommunicado in pre-trial detention. Nabhan 'Adel Hamdi, Mu'ad Muhammad 'Abed, 'Amer Ahmad Kassar and a fourth man, now known to be Shakir Mahmoud 'Anad, were sentenced to death on 3 December on connection with terrorism-related charges after an unfair trial before the Anbar Criminal Court, in Anbar Province, western Iraq. Their case will now be reviewed by Iraq's highest tribunal, the Court of Cassation. If the sentences are upheld by this court and ratified by the presidency, the four men will be at imminent risk of execution.
The four men, aged in their late 20s to early 30s, were detained between the end of March and early April 2012. They were reported to have been tortured while held incommunicado for several weeks at the Directorate of Counter-Crime in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. Their "confessions" were then broadcast on a local television channel, al-Anbar, on 24 and 25 of April. When brought to trial, they told the Anbar Criminal Court that they had been forced under torture to "confess" to assisting murder. Witness testimony from fellow detainees and photographs of some of the men's injuries seen by Amnesty International support their torture allegations. The medical examination of Mu'ad Muhammad 'Abed also revealed burns and other injuries consistent with torture. No investigation into their torture allegations is known to have been held.
Nabhan 'Adel Hamdi's father and his father's two brothers were arrested on 5 December and are currently held at the Directorate of Counter-Crime, where they are also at risk of torture (see UA 351/12, Index: MDE 14/016/2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE14/016/2012/en).
Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language: ν Calling on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that the death sentences against Nabhan 'Adel Hamdi, Mu'ad Muhammad 'Abed, 'Amer Ahmad Kassar and Shakir Mahmoud 'Anad are not carried out; ν Expressing concerns that the men did not receive a fair trial and calling for international standards for fair trial to be respected in any further legal proceedings in their case; ν Calling for their allegations of torture to be investigated promptly and thoroughly by an independent body and for anyone found responsible for abuses to be brought to justice; ν Urging the authorities to declare an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, and to commute without delay all death sentences.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 23 JANUARY 2013 TO: Prime Minister His Excellency Nuri Kamil al-Maliki Office of the Prime Minister Convention Centre (Qasr al-Ma'aridh) Baghdad, Iraq Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (keep trying) Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Human Rights His Excellency Mohammad Shayaa al- Sudani Ministry of Human Rights Baghdad, Iraq Email: email@example.com Salutation: Your Excellency
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
In addition, Alsumaria reports that the National Alliance's Jaafar al-Moussawi has demanded the arrest of Minister of Justice Hassan Shammari and is calling for reform of the women's prisons.
All Iraq News reports 1 National Intelligence Service (Muntasir Abdul Razzaq) officer was shot dead in Baghdad. an Abu Ghraib bombing claimed the lives of 2 soldiers and left a third injured, and 1 person was shot dead in Mosul. But the news 'big enough' to interest news outlets outside of Iraq? Alsumaria reports a bombing in cell number nine of Baghdad's Tasfirat Rusafa prison which has claimed the lives of 1 guard and 1 prisoner and left four guards and two prisoners injured. Citing an unnamed security source, All Iraq News reports that the bomb was an explosive belt that had been brought into the prison in parts by a prisoner who later assembled the belt. AP covers it here. Alsumaria reports that the National Alliance's Jaafar al-Moussawi has demanded the arrest of Minister of Justice Hassan Shammari and is calling for reform of the women's prisons. AAP reports that 4 police officers were shot dead outside of Falluja and a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 "department head [Sabah Bahaa al-Din] in the College of Agriculture on the Tikrit University campus." Xinhua adds, "Separately, gunmen stopped a bus carrying passengers in western Mosul and shot dead a young man aboard, but a police force arrived and exchanged fire with the attackers who killed one of the policemen before they fled the scene, the source said." And on bombs, theIraq Times reports that contractors for the British embassy were caught entering the country with bombs hidden in Korans (even if you don't read Arabic, check out the photo of the bomb in the Koran).
In other dangers to the lives of the Iraqi people, All Iraq News explains that Babylon's Department of Health has shut down work on the water plant due to the fact that that toxins from too much cholrine are making the people sick. I'm not doing links but we'll note it. Whispers abound that 'terrorists' ('Ba'athists') met up in Anakara to plot assassinations in Baghdad and they met with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. It's the sort of thing you expect from the whisper mill especially when there's a move towards a retrial of Tareq (which he is entitled to by law -- of course, if they're going to follow the law, the verdict against him should be tossed aside for several reasons including he can't be tried while he's in office). Again, it's the sort of whispers State of Law excells in and I'm not in the mood to treat it as news. They're trying to distract from a potential move for a retrial.
Let's turn to the political crises. We'll deal with the most recent first. For six years, Nouri's refused to abide by the Constitution and implement Article 140 to resolve disputed areas (Article 140 calls for a census and referendum). Having refused to follow the Constitution he took an oath to, a few months ago, he decided to send his newly created Tigris Operation Command (in violation of the Constitution, Parliament did not approve of the commander of these forces) into disputed areas. The Kurds see this as an effort on Nouri's part to illegally grab the disputed lands -- and, yes, it would be illegal. Anything other than following Article 140 would be illegal. Nouri's actions have led to a military stand-off -- one that continues despite the lies of AP last week hailing it as over. Al Mada reports today that the Peshmerga spokesperson Jabbar Yawar states the Peshmera (Kurdish elite forces) remain in position and are not withdrawing until an agreement can be worked out between Erbil (capital of the KRG) and Baghdad. The Kurdistan Regional Government is a semi-autonomous region. Part of the problem currently is that Nouri al-Maliki has illegal seized control of the various military forces in Iraq. The only forces he doesn't control are the Kurdish military. The crown jewel of Iraq's forces is the Peshmerga. At one point, Nouri was 'offering' that the problem could be solved by his taking control of the Peshmerga.
Yesterday, KRG President Massoud Barzani visited the Peshmerga stationed around Kirkuk. Rudaw reports on the visit: "War is not a nice thing. Throughout history the Kurdish nation has never liked war, but they were always ready to protect their land and dignity. They would rather die than live under oppression," Barzani said, accompanied by the Peshmarga minister. "I say again that I hope for this issue to be resolved through dialogue," Barzani said, visiting oil-rich Kirkuk, which is part of the disputed areas, for the first time since the tensions began. "However, if we have to face war you have a just cause, because it is not you who went to occupy others and kill them," Barzani added, speaking to the troops as it rained.
Nouri's State of Law's getting desperate. Your first clue is the bluster boys are falling silent and they're sending out women to speak for them. All Iraq News notes State of Law MP Fatima Hamid is thundering that Barzani's visit yesterday creates the conditions for "sedition." Alsumaria reports that a splinter bloc from Iraqiya is proposing that the crisis be resolved in the federal courts. This would be a mistake because it would set another precedent where the Constitution states what has to be done and the Constitution is again ignored. If the Constitution is going to mean anything, it has to be followed. Article 140 could give Kirkuk, for example, to the KRG or it could give it to Baghdad. If people are unhappy about Article 140, the time to object was when the Constitution was written. One of the people who sat in on the writing was, in fact, Nouri al-Maliki. If the Constitution means anything, it is followed. If it's a worthless piece of paper, by all means, ignore it and push for a new way to address the problem.
At a time when Nouri's Iraq is falling apart, more bad news for him comes via Alsumaria which reports Sahwa (also known as "Awakening" and "Sons Of Iraq" and "Daughters Of Iraq") has announced Nouri has one month to address the salary issue or they're hitting the streets. Payment for Sahwa was never a problem in the first years -- that's because the US taxpayer footed the bill. When Senator Barbara Boxer rightly pointed out that oil rich Iraq should mean that Nouri was paying Sahwa, Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus agreed to 'take a look at it.' Nouri's never paid on time when he has paid them. If he thinks things are bad now, let the last of the Sahwa walk and watch it get worse.
QUESTION: Yes. Turkey is negotiating, or already finished an oil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. Are you encouraging Turkey not to go along with this, since it will be a provocation to the central government in Baghdad?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, let me say as a general matter, once again, Samir, that the United States supports a constitutional solution to the dispute over the management of Iraq's hydrocarbon resources. This is our longstanding position. We are continuing to urge the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to reach an agreement over legislation so that they can enhance investment so that everybody knows what the fair legal basis is for this.
We don't support oil exports from any part of Iraq without the appropriate approval of the Iraqi Government, and we're calling on the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to continue to try to work through their differences. We also call on neighboring states to similarly avoid any action or comment that can contribute in any way to increasing tensions.
Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
Now suddenly the White House cares about Iraq's Constitution?
Is Turkey the only party in this conflict, a conflict that has the potential to set the whole region ablaze? No, it isn't. It is only a belated party in the game because of its chronic Kurdish problem. Is there any reference in Nuland's statement regarding the stance of the big U.S. energy companies there, which are the main players? No, there isn't. When anyone asks, they always get the cliche saying: "the U.S. government doesn't intervene in company affairs." This might be true, but it falls short in giving a satisfactory explanation for the situation. Is this statement only lip service to sooth down al-Maliki? Even that is doubtful.
US Senator Joe Lieberman gave a speech this afternoon and CNN treated it like this was England and Queen Elizabeth was announcing she was stepping down. Lieberman thanked his wife, his family and his constituents and I'm not bothered by his speech just bothered by the hushed awe and reverence with which CNN -- especially reporter Dana Bash -- treated it. Will they do the same for Dennis Kucinich? His term also ends next month. Eight times he was elected to Congress, twice he ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Will he get the same treatment from the media? No. And it's not fair and I say that as someone who is not a Kucinich fan. It's a shame Dennis couldn't back up his words. It's a real shame he took an airplane ride with Barack and then caved on his promise to oppose ObamaCare. That didn't pay off, it didn't help him. It was stupid to change his vote. But if he disappointed in votes and actions, he was always better with words and he continues that in his last weeks in Congress. Today his office notes a resolution a Committee will be considering tomorrow morning:
Washington D.C. (December 12, 2012) -- The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on H. Res. 819, a Resolution of Inquiry, introduced by Congressman Kucinich (D-OH), to finally compel the Administration to release its legal justification for drones strikes which targets American citizens and others abroad.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM tomorrow to consider the resolution. This vote will determine whether the United States Congress will stick up for the Constitution, Congressional oversight, and for the rights of all Americans.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, this Administration recently conducted its 300th drone strike. Drone strikes are estimated to have killed more than 1,000 innocent civilians. Recently it has been reported that the Administration conducts secondary strikes. The so-called process of "double tapping" includes attacks on the first-responders to the initial attack. The White House claims that strikes against United States citizens abroad are legal and points to a classified memo from the Office of Legal Counsel. The Administration would be compelled to release that memo and supporting documents under H. Res 819.
"Our strikes are creating a dangerous legal precedent that the world will emulate. From Iran to China, other nations are very close to developing comparable technology. Congress must act to ensure proper oversight and legal authority for the use of this technology.
"Targeted strikes are legal only under a very narrow set of circumstances. Strikes against United States citizens are in direct violation of the Constitution, which guarantees due process rights and the right to a fair trial. The volume of the strikes and the process of 'double-tapping' challenge the legality of these strikes. The Congress and the American people have a right to know what laws the Administration is relying on to conduct its drone program, and how they are being interpreted, especially against U.S. citizens," said Kucinich.