Friday, May 24, 2019

Iraq snapshot

Friday, May 24, 2019.  Julian Assange is being persecuted to such a degree that now all journalists are at risk, we review the failure of all Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote against war on Iran (without Congressional authorization), and more.

WIKILEAKS publisher Julian Assange is in new peril as he continues to be persecuted.  Yesterday, the US government brought indictments against him for espionage.  That is utter bulls**t and that, yes, should be the legal term.

Before we go further --

What happened in Sweden is not known.  If he raped or assaulted a woman or two women is not known.  Some of his defenders are yet again trashing a woman who stepped forward.  We will not play that game, we didn't not play it when Ray McGovern and others were calling them "honey pots" and worse.  Were you in that bedroom?  Then you don't know what happened. 

That is why Julian has and deserves the presumption of innocence.  Nothing has ever been proven in a court of law, nothing may ever be.  At this point, he is innocent in the eyes of the law.

Some of his more ardent defenders have lied.  Early on, it could have been that they were mistaken.  But we covered the London hearing in real time and there was a very important lie exposed.  I will not allow that lie to appear here.  Sweden did say "Don't leave."  They did not say it to Julian, they said it to his attorney.  When this came out the London hearing, the British judge slammed the attorney for that because that lie -- Sweden never said don't go -- had been treated as established fact.  A text exists -- that Julian's attorney had to admit in court was real. 

I understand people wanting to defend Julian.  That's no reason to lie.  There are four pieces that have been mailed to the public account for this site -- 3 by the authors of the four.  I'm not highlighting attacks on a woman or women that says they were assaulted.

I have a friend who is in a very public pickle.  He didn't abuse the woman involved.  He's seen by many as having done that.  My words to him before the marriage, "She's a liar and a whore and she's going to publicly humiliate you.  She's using you for her career and she can't act and she's a coldfish onscreen.  When she realizes marriage to you will not advance her career, she's going to humiliate you."  And she has.  She made a lot of lies publicly.  Then, to get a big payout, that she pretends all went to charity (it didn't), she signed a non-disclosure agreement.  Then she penned a column saying she had been beaten -- violating the NDA.  She has no talent, she's vapid and she's a coldfish onscreen so there will be no great acting career.  Her minor role in two superhero films is it for her. 

He's not guilty of what she  claims.  He was stupid to have ever trusted, let alone marry her.  Our actions have consequences.  He's trying to rebuild his image currently.

Do supposed victims sometimes lie?  Yes, they do and they're not all named Jussie Smollett.  Do women sometimes lie?  Absolutely. 

If someone has some form of proof about lies against Julian, then by all means come forward. 

Until then, stop attacking the women involved.  You weren't there, you don't know.

On the friend above, I do know.  I saw her behavior and heard about it in real time.  I, to this day, have great love for Bob Filner.  He did some wonderful things in Congress.  After he left, while he was a mayor, some women came forward stating he had harassed and abused them.  When those charges were made, we didn't hide him here.  We noted it.  We noted the women had a right to make their case.  I stated I hoped the charges weren't true but that I didn't know. 

Bob ended up resigning over those charges.  He's given at least one interview since where he's tried to walk it back.  He already publicly admitted to it.  I don't see how you walk that back.

Bob was never anything but wonderful to me.  I'm very sorry for what was done to the women by him.  Before they came forward, I would never have believed he was capable of such a thing.

We are not gong to try Julian here for rape or assault.  We are not going to smear the women because Julian is being persecuted.  Not here.

We are going to be very clear that what the US government is doing has nothing to do with what did or did not happen in Sweden.

And charging Julian with espionage has nothing to do with Sweden. 

Julian is being persecuted by the US government.  And in their zeal to destroy him, they have now put journalism itself at risk.

When Bob Woodward agreed to signal Deep Throat when they needed to talk, was he enticing Deep Throat (supposedly Mark Felt -- most of us believe there is at least one other person who was Deep Throat along with Felt)? 

Equally true, espionage?  Youu could charge the whole press corps today with that.

Donald Trump is the duly elected president of the United States.  Working with James Clapper and other former intelligence assets, this press has worked to destroy his presidency.  He is the president of the United States.  Destroying him -- it's a slippery slope what you call espionage in the press -- is destroying the United States. 

You can make that argument now, after the charges against Julian, that argument can be made.

That's what charging Julian for doing journalism means.

It also means that THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST, among others, can be charged as knowing or unknowing accomplices to espionage because they worked with Julian Assange on some of his biggest scoops.

The government has grossly overstepped and put the First Amendment in peril. 

Is Julian being persecuted?  Yes, he is. 

Whatever happened in Sweden is between Sweden and Julian and has nothing to do with defending him from the US government. 

We support Julian Assange and we reject the charges of espionage or any charges made against him by the US government for the 'crime' of practicing journalism.

So that's A.  We have so much to unpack.

We were speaking yesterday and there was also the roundtable for today's gina & krista round-robin as well as Ava and I having to write our column for that.  It was late in the afternoon when we learned the news of Julian and that became the focus for the rest of the evening.

I completely forgot about yesterday's snapshot, the ending.  I meant to make a call but I didn't and it's too early as I dictate this to call my friend.  Fine, we'll just look up public record.  Only we can't because it's not updated yet.  So I'll instead review slowly -- and hopefully not make a math mistake like yesterday -- due to drive-by e-mails to the public account insisting no Democrats would refuse a vote saying Donald Trump needed Congressional authorization for war.  From yesterday's snapshot:

On the issue of war on Iran, Tulsi is hitting back hard.  While some in Congress have fought back (Tulsi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Seth Moulton  -- all vying for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination and all currently serving in Congress -- have come out against war on Iran), not enough members have.  Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) reported yesterday on an effort by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to assert their proper role (Congress is the body that has the authority to declare war):

Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tom Udall (D-NM) led an effort on Wednesday to try to reassert Congressional authority, by trying to preemptively de-fund any US war against Iran unless Congress authorized it ahead of time.

This proposal was brought forward at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and immediately failed, 13-9. Murphy said this vote would remind the administration that they don’t have authorization for the war.



Republican Rand Paul voted for the measure, he is one of the nine.

My confusion?  Why it wasn't 13 to eleven.  The Democrats have ten members on the Committee. 
[I have added wrong here.  13 and 11 would have carried it to 24.  Repeating, that math is wrong.]  Was Cory to busy campaigning to vote?

Who was the piece of crap Democrat who voted with Republicans?  Actually, there were two.

Democrats have ten members on the Committee.  Republicans have 12.

In a 13-9 vote, with Republican Rand providing the ninth vote, that means 2 Democrats crossed over.



First, several people e-mailed to say I left Pete Buttigieg off the list of people who had spoken against war on Iran.  No, I didn't.  Because it wasn't "people."  It was members of Congress.  Pete is not a member of Congress.  Mike Gravel isn't on the list either.  I didn't leave him off.  He was a US senator.  He is not currently in Congress.  The list was a list of those being vocal currently about no war on Iran.  I don't care for Elizabeth Warren, she's in Congress and in the last few days she's been outspoken (after a silence of seven days prior) so she made the list.  I wasn't playing favorites.  It was a list of the members of Congress who were saying no. 

We then transition to Senator Udall's amendment and the vote.


We're doing a slow walk.  I have no problem admitting I'm wrong when I am. 

I WAS WRONG THAT CORY BOOKER MIGHT HAVE MISSED THE VOTE.  No one missed the vote.  I added wrong.  13 and 9 is 22.  22 is the number of the Committee.

I was wrong.  No e-mail mentioned that, a friend at CBS NEWS brought my error to my attention this morning (which is when I remembered we were supposed to continue this conversation here today)..

But a huge number of e-mails tell me I'm wrong about other things including that Democrats would not have gone against each other on this vote and that, for example, every committee has the same number of Democrats and Republicans on it.

On the last one, uh, what world do you live in and did they struggle to fund education there?

Other basic facts elude many of the drive-by e-mailers.  First off, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met on Wednesday, September 22nd.  It was a business meeting.  The fifth piece of legislation they considered was Udall's -- and that was an amendment.  The bill itself was HR 31 Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019.  To this bill, Udall attached the amendment.  His amendment is entitled "PROHIBITION OF UNAUTHORIZED MILITARY OPERATIONS IN OR AGAINST IRAN."  To read it (PDF format warning) at the Senate Foreign Committee site, click here, it's two pages.


Now for the makeup of the Committee:

Republicans:
12
Democrats:
10

10 Democrats, 12 Republicans.  That is the make up of the Committee.  That's from Gov.Track and we'll even share the 22 members.


Portrait of Mitt Romney
Subcommittee Chair
Republican
Utah
Portrait of Marco Rubio
Subcommittee Chair
Republican
Florida
Portrait of Cory Booker
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
New Jersey
ranking member, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Portrait of Benjamin Cardin
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
Maryland
Portrait of Timothy “Tim” Kaine
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
Virginia
ranking member, Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and ...
Portrait of Edward “Ed” Markey
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
Massachusetts
Portrait of Jeff Merkley
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
Oregon
Portrait of Christopher Murphy
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
Connecticut
ranking member, Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
Portrait of Jeanne Shaheen
Subcommittee Ranking Member
Democrat
New Hampshire
ranking member, Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation
Portrait of John Barrasso
Republican
Wyoming
Portrait of Chris Coons
Democrat
Delaware
Portrait of Ted Cruz
Republican
Texas
Portrait of Rand Paul
Republican
Kentucky
Portrait of Robert “Rob” Portman
Republican
Ohio

Portrait of Tom Udall
Democrat
New Mexico                               



It was a 13 to 9 vote.  That's 22.  That's the full Committee.

There are 10 Democrats on the Committee so two crossed over.

Rand Paul is a Republican.  The only votes known are Tom, Chris and Rand's votes.  We know those because of Chris Murphy's Tweet. 

Based on nothing but Chris Murphy's Tweet the press spun it as Rand breaks with Republicans!!!!

That's not the story.  He's one person.

The story is that two Democrats refused to vote with the other Democrats.  Two is greater than one, that makes it the story.

13 voted against and 9 voted for.

One of the nine is Rand who is a Republican.

That means 8 Democrats voted for the measure.

There are 10 Democrats on the Committee.  That means 2 voted with the Republicans.  If all ten had voted for Tom's amendment and Rand had voted for it that would bring the total to 11 for it.  But the total -- with Rand -- is 9. 


At some point, the vote will be posted at CONGRESS.ORG (at that specific page) and also here at GOV.TRACK.  The two who refused to support the amendment?  We need to know their names and they need to explain themselves.

And the media needs to do a better job -- that's THE HILL, that's THINK PROGRESS (which looks like a self-righteous idiot with their rant against Republicans since two Democrats voted with the Republicans). 

We're noting this from Senator Tom Udell's office:

May 22, 2019

Udall Delivers Remarks on Defending Congressional War Powers and Ending Forever Wars at VoteVets Event

Amid escalating tensions with Iran, Udall calls on Congress to stand up and assert its constitutional authority to halt the march to war

Following his remarks, Udall forces a vote on a proposal to ensure Congressional authorization prior to war with Iran


WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered remarks on defending Congressional war powers and ending forever wars at a bipartisan event hosted by VoteVets and Concerned Veterans for America. In his remarks, Udall emphasized that under the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war – a responsibility it has ceded to the executive branch for too long. Udall called on Congress to stand up and assert its constitutional authority to block the administration’s reckless march to war with Iran. A photo is available HERE.
Earlier this year, Udall reintroduced bipartisan legislation to prevent an unconstitutional war with Iran. The Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019 restores to Congress the sole power to declare war by prohibiting any funding for an unauthorized attack on Iran, thereby blocking the president from provoking an unnecessary military conflict in the Middle East. 
Following his remarks, Udall attended a Senate Foreign Relations Committee markup where he and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called for a vote on an amendment they filed to H.R. 31, based on Udall’s bill, to prohibit funding for any unauthorized military action in Iran.
“[I]t is the American people’s 535 representatives in Congress who have the power under the U.S. Constitution to enter into war. Not one person. Not even the president,” said Udall. “The framers of the Constitution were crystal clear -- in Article I, Section 8:  Congress, and Congress alone, has the power to ‘declare war.’ But, over recent years, Republican and Democratic presidents alike have overstepped their constitutional ground to wage war. Administrations from both parties have stretched the meaning of Congress’s authorizations to use military force to the breaking point.  And Congress has allowed it to happen. This encroachment needs to end.” 
“Congress has surrendered its authority because the decision to wage war and to escalate war are tough, political decisions. But the voters elected us to make the tough decision and we need to do our job -- our constitutional duty,” Udall continued.
Udall has also introduced a bipartisan bill, the American Forces Going Home After Noble (AFGHAN) Service Act, to end America’s long war — the war in Afghanistan —and bring our troops home, while honoring servicemembers who answered the called to duty by providing bonuses to all those who served in the Global War on Terrorism.  “Our nation’s forever wars have cost us too much.  And we need to bring them to a close -- beginning with Afghanistan,” Udall said. 
Udall concluded, “Congress must re-assert its authority and make the decisions whether or not to engage in armed conflict. I’ve put forth legislation on Iran, on Afghanistan. These critical decisions demand debate on the Senate floor.  We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand. Too much is at stake. Please join me in urging Congress to affirm its constitutional prerogative. To debate the critical issues of war and peace. To make the tough decisions. And take the tough votes.  We owe it to every single man and woman who puts on the American uniform to assume our constitutional duty.”
The full text of Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery is below.
Thank you, VoteVets and Concerned Veterans for America for organizing today’s important discussion.  Your organizations have worked to find common ground -- rooted in the Constitution’s language and entrusting war powers with the Congress.    
If we’re going to end these endless wars – it’s going to take collaboration like yours.
The veterans and service men and women here today know better than anyone the true cost of war.  You and your compatriots made the sacrifice.  And I thank you for your service.
At the outset, let’s be clear about two things: 
First, the majority of American people, our troops, and their families have no appetite for forever wars in the Middle East or anywhere else.  They have no appetite for forever wars that do not serve our national interest. That have no clear mission or exit strategy. That cost precious American lives.  And cost billions of taxpayer dollars.
Second, it is the American people’s 535 representatives in Congress who have the power under the U.S. Constitution to enter into war.
Not one person. Not even the president. 
The framers of the Constitution were crystal clear -- in Article I, Section 8:  Congress, and Congress alone, has the power to “declare war.”
But, over recent years, Republican and Democratic presidents alike have overstepped their constitutional ground to wage war.
Administrations from both parties have stretched the meaning of Congress’s authorizations to use military force to the breaking point.  And Congress has allowed it to happen. 
This encroachment needs to end.
Congress has surrendered its authority because the decision to wage war and to escalate war are tough, political decisions. But the voters elected us to make the tough decisions and we need to do our job -- our constitutional duty.
This president has had Americans on the edge of their seats and Twitter feeds wondering whether he will rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea.  Whether he will use military force to force out Maduro in Venezuela.  Whether he will spiral into an unconstitutional war against Iran. 
I believe the American people want no part of these new military ventures.  But even if you disagree -- these decisions are Congress’s to make, not the president’s.
Every day now we are reading about potential war with Iran. 
While Iran is a bad actor in many ways, the administration’s policies and rhetoric have needlessly increased tensions.
Let’s be clear: there was no threat of war until the president made conflict more likely.  And now we are in danger of the situation getting out of control.  This is a conflict of the president’s own making:
By unilaterally pulling out of the Iran agreement -- an agreement Iran was abiding by according to the president’s own military experts.  
By re-imposing sanctions and using sanctions authority to compel both our allies and Iran to make changes that were never part of the agreement. 
By labeling part of Iran’s military a “terrorist group” in a way that brought little benefit but I believe increases risks to our own forces. 
By misusing intelligence, and not sharing the limited intelligence with Congress, to increase the temperature in an already fraught region.
Now we know that John Bolton was one of the chief architects of the Iraq war. And he has wanted regime change and war with Iran for years.  Advisor Bolton and Secretary Pompeo’s “maximum pressure” campaign looks like a cover to goad Iran into conflict.  
One day, the president doesn’t want to go to war with Iran and he wants to talk.  The next he threatens to annihilate the entire country.  I think this Twitter foreign policy is erratic, reckless, and dangerous.
But whether the president wants to wage war against Iran is not the question. 
The real question is whether the president comes to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Iran. 
That’s why I introduced the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act in April, along with Senators Paul and Durbin, and a number of other senators. 
This bipartisan legislation prohibits any funding for an unauthorized attack on Iran.
And, by the way, I do not believe the 2001 authorization for use of military force does not authorize force against Iran.  No matter how much this administration stretches to connect Al Qaeda and Iran.
Congress must assert its constitutional authority to prevent a needless conflict with Iran.  
And we need groups like yours to continue to speak up about this threat. 
Our nation’s forever wars have cost us too much.  And we need to bring them to a close -- beginning with Afghanistan.
We’ve been in Afghanistan over 17 years.  This is longest war in U.S. history.  We’ve lost over 2,300 men and women.  20,000 troops have been wounded in action.  It’s cost us $2 trillion dollars. 
The original mission for involvement in Afghanistan has been achieved.  It’s high time we bring our troops home.  
That’s why, in March, along with Senator Paul, I introduced the American Forces Going Home After Noble Service Act – or AFGHAN Service Act. 
This act declares victory in Afghanistan, acknowledging that we have largely achieved our objectives, sets guidelines for the safe and orderly withdrawal of troops, and repeals the 2001 AUMF.
Congress must re-assert its authority and make the decisions whether or not to engage in armed conflict. I’ve put forth legislation on Iran, on Afghanistan. 
These critical decisions demand debate on the Senate floor.  We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand. Too much is at stake.  
Please join me in urging Congress to affirm its constitutional prerogative. To debate the critical issues of war and peace. To make the tough decisions. And take the tough votes.  We owe it to every single man and woman who puts on the American uniform to assume our constitutional duty. 

###



The two Democrats who sided with Republicans?  It matters.  They need to be held accountable.  Instead of trying to shame Bernie Sanders for being right about Iraq and Vietnam, the press should be shaming these two.  But, please note, the press has 'reported' on this vote while (a) getting the story wrong (two people crossing party lines is a bigger story than one person doing so) and (b) made no effort to supply names to who voted which way.


I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.
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The Iraq War is a disaster in so many ways.  One example?  Frank Gardner (BBC NEWS) reported this week:


The Archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has accused Britain's Christian leaders of failing to do enough in defence of the vanishing Christian community in Iraq.
In an impassioned address in London, the Rt Rev Bashar Warda said Iraq's Christians now faced extinction after 1,400 years of persecution.
Since the US-led invasion toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, he said, the Christian community had dwindled by 83%, from around 1.5 million to just 250,000.
"Christianity in Iraq," he said, "one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom." 



Need another example?  Yesterday, Governor Ned Lamont held a ceremony to honor the 65 men and women from Connecticut killed in the Afganistan and Iraq Wars.


Grateful to the brave men and women from who gave their lives in service to our country. I encourage everyone to visit the at the State Capitol building. It’s a moving tribute to the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
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Every state doesn't have a Ned Lamont who will recognize the fallen but every state has lost citizens to those ongoing, forever wars.





The following sites updated:





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