Mike Thompson Watch
1) CALENDAR NOTICE : ONGOING VIGILS
2) SURRONDING OUR REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON
3) ANALYSIS OF THOMPSONS HR 787
On the sidewalk in front of Congressman Mike Thompsons offices in Eureka and Ft. Bragg, the 3scene is much the same every Monday morning. People begin to assemble after nine and by 11 am a small crowd has unfurled signs and banners relating to the Iraqi war, Iran, and Bush. What is new is the attention given to lobbying the backsliding Democratic Party Congressional leadership. Fresh headlines indicate that this leadership is abandoning attempts to use funding cutoffs to stop the surge and instead are taking the opportunity to pack pork into the surge appropriation bill.
The Eureka office is at 317 3rd St. where demonstrating goes on outside while - singly and in clusters people visit inside the office with Thompsons staff. Southern Humboldt and Northern Mendocino residents can carpool from the Redway post office about 9:30.
Monday March 5 is the first time that activists in Eureka
Bragg were joined at Thompsons other three offices - Napa Woodland near
Davis, and Washington DC itself. These visitors are representative members
of a Nationwide Congressional Accountability Movement with a common agenda
of ending the Iraq war and occupation and bringing Cheney-Bush and their
close associates to justice.
The coalition is made up at the grassroots of people from a diversity
of political backgrounds. This diversity is expressed nationally in a
movement that includes Vets for Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the
Community Backbone Project, the Occupation Project, Code Pink, the World
Cant Wait, Green Party, the AMSWER Coalition, and others. This national
movement has been scheduling actions focused on Congress since Dec. 10 of
last year. Events are being planned well into Spring 2007, including a
campaign of civil disobedience focused on Congress both in its DC offices
and at home. Senators Obama and McCain were early recipients of
The coalition asks Representative Thompson to listen to the voices in
his District - which echo voices across the country - in order to
understand the grassroots feeling of serious emergency. Said Patricia
Daughtery, a spokesperson for the Coalition from Davis: Were demanding a
straightforward effort from our Representative to end the war. And we want
him to start lining up 218 House members who will stand with him. Says
Daughtery: Thompson has voted against all supplemental funding for the war
over the past 3 years, so being a leader should be a natural. The positive
outcome seems less likely given the acceleration of backsliding among
Democratic Party leadership Daughtery notes and this makes direct action
more likely. In some parts of the district nonviolence training has begun.
The Coalition has had stern criticisms of Thompsons recent bill HR
787 for too closely reflecting the biases of the Iraq Study Group in which
National Security Interests are an euphemism for the Big Money energy,
defense, finance and construction corporations. Unlike sister legislation
HR 508, HR 787 fails to rescind the Congressional Authorization for the
war, or to censure the illegal invasion and occupation. It fails to address
the presence of military contractors or the existence of U.S. Military
installations. Worse, it does little to check the arbitrary actions of a
President by allowing him innumerable loopholes and phony benchmarks.
This bill is not simply weak, said Mikos Fabersunne, chair of the Davis
P&J center who penned an incisive critique of Thompsons legislation on
behalf of the Coalition. Fabersunne calls HR 787 harmful. It gives the
president further power to continue the occupation of Iraq and relegates
Congress to a deferential role.
The Coalition has been urging Thompson to withdraw HR 787 and sign
on to HR 508.. In HR 508 a firm deadline of six months is set for the US
occupation, with redeployment only outside the Middle East, preferably to
the U.S. HR 508 controls potential abuse of funding and provides for
funding for returning Veterans. Any funds for vets or for reparations to
Iraq will cost us a lot less than continuing an illegal and unjust war.
said John Schaeffer, a Vietnam Vet and member of Arcata Vets for Peace.
Among its other provisions, HR508 would initiate an investigation into the
origins and conduct of the war. This last has special relevance to Thompson
who is now chair of the House subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence,
Analysis and Counterintelligence.
The Coalition is working to arrange a face to face meeting with
Thompson should he ever decide to publicly appear in his district. Thompson
has suggested to some members of the coalition that he wouldnt actually be
available till August. One of the Coalition members who already took part in
a previous conference with Thompson and requested another was told that she
only got one in a lifetime!
Undaunted, the Coalition is demanding a series of town meetings.
We will have these town meetings with him or without him, says organizer
Jack Nounnan. . A nation wide call is already in the works which So Hum
organizer Paul Encimer supports. The Constitution may already be
defunct, observed Encimer, and we may be on the verge of impeaching
Congress itself. Scholars have pointed out that President Eisenhowers
original formulation was the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.
Meanwhile the national movement continues to expand its tactics
which are reflected at the community level. For instance, aside from
occupation and civil disobedience in midMarch, there is also scheduled in
may a corporate boycott from Tax Day to Earth Day, April 15 22. A call to
refuse War Taxes and support GI War Resistance would be a part of such a
People continue to organize in the spirit of nonviolence. Says
Coalition organizer from Albion, Bernie MacDonald: The seriousness of the
moment demands nothing less than transforming our national consciousness. For further info 923-4488
HR 787 incorporates elements of the plan proposed by
the Iraq Study Group
(ISG). Limits level of U.S. armed forces to the level as of Jan 10, 2007,
unless Congress acts to provide specific authority to exceed this level.
Provides for phased redeployment to regions outside of Iraq commencing
not later than May 1, 2007, and for completion by March 31, 2008, if Iraq
does not meet thirteen benchmarks specified in the bill.
o Benchmarks: Represent key recommendations of the Iraq Study Group and
pertain to establishing goals for the government of Iraq to reduce sectarian
violence, control the militias, bolster police, military, and supportive
civilian ministries; enact measures to share oil revenues equitably; invest
$10 billion on reconstruction, job creation and economic development; insure
non-sectarian participation in governmental affairs; and establish processes
for modifying the constitution, and holding elections.
Allows retention of U.S. Armed Forces to remain in Iraq for purpose of
protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, conducting counter-terrorism
operations, training Iraqi forces, and performing routine functions of
Office of Defense Attaché.
Requires reports every 90 days on progress of government of Iraq in
meeting the benchmarks.
Provides for 90-day renewable suspension of redeployment by President if
he certifies to Congress that doing so is in the U.S. national security
interests and that the Iraq government has made significant progress in
meeting the 13 benchmarks.
Requires Congress to act by passage of Joint Resolution within 10 days of
Presidents suspension certification, if Congress wishes to disapprove of
suspension of redeployment, renewal of suspension, or retention of U.S.
Sets limits on economic assistance to Iraq and exceptions to those limits.
Encourages training of Iraqi security forces, development of diplomatic
initiatives and requires the President to submit to Congress a strategy to
prevent wider regional war.
ISG plan underlying the bill reflects the groups notion of what
constitutes the U.S. national security interest, which while sounding
noble, in practice over the last century has become a euphemism for the
interests of the big energy, finance, and construction monopolies, rather
than the support of development of true democratic institutions and just
power structures (see critique by Tom Hayden of the constitution of the ISG
and the expert working groups that supported it.)
Fails to rescind the original Congressional authorization to use military
force on Iraq, which HR 508 (Woolsey) and HR 413 (Farr) accomplish.
Fails to censure the illegality of the invasion by the U.S. and the
occupation of a sovereign nation.
Ignores the physical and emotional suffering of the Iraqi people and the
economic harm to Iraqi civil society directly and indirectly caused by the
actions of the United States.
Ignores the presence of land mines, other unexploded ordnance, and
depleted uranium used in U.S. munitions and which pose a continuing and
lingering threat to the health and safety of the civilian population.
Fails to recognize the responsibility of the United States for providing
restitution for the damage caused by the U.S. invasion and occupation.
Enables the President to easily defeat the purpose of the bill, by failing
to provide definitions of the terms significant progress and substantial
progress, and failing to provide criteria for use in measuring the progress
by the Iraqis in meeting eight (8) of the thirteen (13) so-called
benchmarks. Requires only the assertion by the President, in the form of
a certification statement and periodic reports to Congress, that such
progress is being made by the Iraqis. Establishes no requirements for the
content or supporting documentation to be contained in those reports.
Requires no Congressional approval for a deployment suspension ordered by
the President, but only an opportunity for Congress to disapprove of the
suspension, after the fact, if Congress, on its own volition, acts quickly
enough (within 10 days) to pass a Joint Resolution to that effectits like
shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped. Given the recent loss in
the Senate of the nonbinding resolution condemning the troop surge,
successful passage of such a resolution seems tenuous at best.
Provides a large loophole through which US troops may remain in Iraq even
after redeployment has commenced. They may remain to protect US personnel
and facilities, to conduct counter-terrorism operations, and to train
Iraqis. Supposedly thats what US troops are doing now. How would this be
any different? As with the Iraqi benchmarks, there are no criteria, and
there are no limits specified regarding the quantity of the troops that may
Illogically allows for troops to remain in Iraq, via suspension of the
redeployment by Mr. Bush, if Iraq meets all the established benchmarks. If
Iraq does well in achieving the benchmarks by reducing sectarian violence,
increasing the strength of the Iraqi security forces, spending $10 billion
on reconstruction and economic development, holding elections and sharing
oil revenues, then what legitimate purpose would remain to justify the
continued presence of US troops in Iraq, other than providing assistance in
the delivery of humanitarian relief or in making reparations?
Fails to address the presence of the military contractors employed by the
US in Iraq (Halliburton, Blackwater, etc.) and whether the provisions of the
act would apply to such contractors.
Ignores the existence of the military installations in Iraq that have
already been built by the US in violation of the provisions of PL 109-364,
which it claims to reaffirm.
In short, this bill is weak and is potentially harmful. It
gives to the
president further power to continue the occupation of Iraq and relegates
Congress to having merely a deferential role.
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