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House rejects Lee’s Iraq/Afghanistan amendments

Rep. Barbara Lee is among lawmakers moving to ensure America doesn’t get sucked back into war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but all of her proposals were rejected Thursday and Friday.

Lee, D-Oakland, on Thursday introduced four amendments to the 2015 Pentagon budget bill. One would specify that no money in the bill can be used for deploying troops on the ground in Iraq; this failed on a 165-250 vote late Thursday.

Another prohibits funding for use of force under the 2002 authorization that Congress gave for military action in Iraq; this failed on a 182-231 vote late Thursday.

The third prohibits funding for combat operations in Afghanistan after December, the time at which President Obama said the U.S. combat mission there would end. This failed Friday on a 153-260 vote.

And the fourth prohibits funding under the use of force Congress approved in September 2001; this failed on a 157-260 vote late Thursday. Lee famously was the sole vote against the 2001 authorization for use of military force.

“We must not let history repeat itself in Iraq,” Lee had said on the House floor Thursday. “Because the reality is there is no military solution in Iraq.

Posted on Friday, June 20th, 2014
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Iraq War, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Post office to be named for soldier slain in Iraq

A Mountain View post office will be named Saturday in honor of a local soldier who was killed in Iraq.

Kenneth BallardRep. Anna Eshoo, who authored the bill to dedicate the post office in honor of U.S. Army Lt. Kenneth Ballard, will attend the 1 p.m. ceremony at which a memorial plaque will be unveiled at the post office at 211 Hope St. Ballard’s mother also will attend.

Ballard, 26, died in Najaf, Iraq on May 30, 2004 when a M-240 machine gun mounted on his vehicle accidentally fired. The Army initially had reported Ballard was killed by small arms fire during a battle with insurgents, and didn’t inform his family of the truth until more than a year later.

Ballard had served in the Army for almost nine years, and was awarded the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars, two with Valor Device. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

“Lieutenant Ballard demonstrated great courage and heroism throughout his military career,” Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said in a news release announcing her bill last year. “He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and he should be remembered and honored by our community.”

Born in Rome, N.Y., Ballard and his family moved to Mountain View in 1981. After graduating from Mountain View High School in 1995, he enlisted in the Army and attended basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. He went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Iraq. He won a “Gold to Green” Army ROTC Scholarship and attended Middle Tennessee State University, but after graduation returned to Germany and was then deployed to Iraq.

Posted on Friday, April 12th, 2013
Under: Anna Eshoo, Iraq, Iraq War, U.S. House, veterans | No Comments »

Woolsey gives her 444th, final antiwar speech

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who is retiring from Congress in a few weeks, this morning delivered her 444th and final special order speech expressing her opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and her support for a “smart” approach to national security:

http://youtu.be/ztGa932tnwc

Woolsey, D-San Rafael, will be succeeded in the next Congress by Rep.-elect Jared Huffman, a fellow Democrat; the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge’s north end to the Oregon border.

Read the text of Woolsey’s speech as prepared, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Under: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iraq War, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

McNerney voted for the war supplemental

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, was the only Bay Area House member to vote in favor of the $33 billion Afghanistan and Iraq war supplemental spending bill yesterday. The bill passed on a 308-114 vote.

I asked McNerney’s office why he voted as he did, and how he felt about this week’s release of classified military documents on the WikiLeaks website.

Jerry McNerney “The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter, especially if it has the potential to put American troops at risk. I have been following these developments carefully,” he replied in an e-mail this afternoon. “I voted in favor of the supplemental because I believe we must continue to develop an effective strategy to stop terrorists who are attempting to use Afghanistan as a safe haven from which to attack our country.

“Late last year, I traveled to Afghanistan as part of a bipartisan fact-finding trip to see for myself the situation on ground,” he continued. “I spent time with our troops and met with U.S. military and Afghan government officials. I’m impressed by the efforts of our men and women in uniform and grateful for their sacrifice, and I believe our military commanders and our troops in the field should have the resources to defend themselves and execute the mission they have been given.”

Politically, it seemed like a no-brainer. Regardless of how McNerney personally feels about the wars, a “no” vote would’ve been risky for the only truly embattled House incumbent serving the most moderate district in the Bay Area, and it’s not as if he’d have put the Democratic doves’ votes over the top.

Read other Bay Area members’ comments, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Iraq, Iraq War, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

How they voted on the war supplemental

As I reported Monday, Bay Area House members were being pressed by anti-war progressives on one side and by President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the other about how to vote on the $106 billion supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House passed the bill late Tuesday on a 226-202 vote. Here’s how the Bay Area delegation voted:

No: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose

Yes: George Miller, D-Martinez; Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco

The 32 Democrats voting against the bill did so mainly for anti-war reasons, while most of the 170 Republicans who opposed it did so because the bill included more than $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund. The bill passed overwhelmingly last month, but changes in conference committee led to an intense battle to get it through again.

Here’s what Lee had to say about it:

“I cannot support any funding for Iraq that was not dedicated solely for the redeployment of our troops and military contractors. I am also unable to support the open ended military escalation in Afghanistan. We need a better balance between humanitarian and military spending in Afghanistan and we need an exit strategy. The supplemental appropriations bill does not reflect a fundamental shift in direction. Therefore, I cannot support it.”

And here’s what Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said:

“Our men and women in uniform deserve far, far better than to be treated like this. Republicans supported a troop funding bill last month, and we are prepared to do so once again. But this is a politically-motivated stunt that uses troop funding as bait for a global bailout that should be judged on its own merits in its own legislation. Let’s give our troops the resources they need for victory in a real troop funding bill free of a costly global bailout.”

Strange bedfellows indeed.

Some liberal bloggers are singling Miller out for heat, because he’s among Democrats who voted against the war funding last month “when their votes stood no chance of actually blocking the funding” but voted for it Tuesday, as AfterDowningStreet.org’s David Swanson put it. Swanson described this group as “the Hall of Shame. These Congress members voted No for show when it didn’t matter, and voted Yes to fund wars when it came to crunch time.”

Elsewhere, the Down With Tyranny blog called Miller “another progressive who let pressure get to him and has now jumped the fence and is voting for more war.”

Miller, a close political ally of Pelosi, explained his shifting vote to the Chronicle:

“I understand the deep frustrations regarding this bill; I’ve voiced them myself and have consistently voted against the war,” Miller said. “I don’t support the war in Iraq, and I want to bring it to a close. I registered my concern, but now it is time to give President Obama what he believes he needs to make progress. This bill is part of the price of cleaning up the mess of the failed policies from the previous administration.”

It’s worth noting that the progressive community was split on this: Although lots of left-leaning groups opposed the bill, some significant heavyweights – including the Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for American Progress, Democracy for America, Moveon.org, Talking Points Memo, and True Majority – didn’t.

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Iraq, Iraq War, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

House members pressured on war funding vote

Several Bay Area House members are among targets of a progressive Democratic phone/fax/email lobbying blitz pressuring them to vote against the $100 billion Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan war supplemental spending bill, even as the Obama Administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to whip votes into line for it. From Democrats.com:

All 178 House Republicans plan to vote against the $100 billion Iraq/AfPak War Supplemental to protest $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund. That means 39 Democratic opponents could defeat the bill. 34 Democrats on the right promised to vote no, so we only need 5 more.

On May 14, 51 Democrats voted no and 4 Democrats were absent. Most were Progressives who oppose the war funding, but a few were Bluedogs who want to cut unnecessary spending.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, already are on the list of lawmakers who’ve vowed to vote against the bill. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, is on the “voted with us on May 14 and still with us as far as we know” list, but I guess they can move her onto the sure-thing list with Lee, Stark and Woolsey now, based on the statement she sent me a few minutes ago:

“I voted against the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental last month because I have serious problems with the current wars and do not believe that escalating the conflicts make America or the world safer.

“Increased military operations, with the inevitable civilian casualties, only inflame local resistance and increase the number and severity of violent attacks.

“While other items are included in the supplemental – many of which I support – this is, foremost, a vote for or against funding the wars. For that reason, I will again vote no when it comes to the floor.”

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, were listed the same as Speier; I haven’t heard back from either of their offices yet.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, is listed among those who “voted with us on May 14 but now oppose us.” And Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is listed among the unknowns; his spokeswoman, Sarah Hersh, said McNerney “has received a similar number of calls, emails and faxes on this subject as compared to other major issues. Of those who have contacted his office, there’s about equal support and opposition. The Congressman looks forward to hearing from his constituents on this and other issues.”

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Iraq, Iraq War, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 4 Comments »

Actors join Move America Forward’s ‘Troopathon’

Celebs continue gravitating to the June 25 “Troopathon” conceived by the Sacramento-based, grassroots conservative Move America Forward to send the largest-ever shipment of care packages to U.S. troops serving overseas.

The organization announced Monday that actors Kelsey Grammer and Gary Sinise have joined others including talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin; former Vice President Dick Cheney, actor Jon Voight, and columnist/blogger Michelle Malkin on the lineup for the “Honor Their Service” event.

Both Grammer and Sinise “have displayed a long history of support for our troops. They have been active with the USO throughout the years and their participation in our telethon is further example of what great patriots these two men are,” said Bay Area-based former talk radio host Melanie Morgan, chairwoman of Move America Forward and co-host of this event. “We are honored to have them on our Troopathon.”

The other co-host will be Andrew Breitbart of Breitbart.TV and the “Big Hollywood” blog. During the eight-hour internet, radio and television live broadcast from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, viewers will be encouraged to sponsor care packages for the troops as the guests and hosts discuss various topics related to supporting our troops. Last year’s Troopathon saw viewers donate more than $1.5 million for care packages for the troops.

Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Iraq War | 2 Comments »

Iraq War public opinions compiled

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has compiled the latest public opinion surveys on the Iraq War, which readers may find interesting as the U.S. enters into the sixth year of the war.

Here’s the press release, which lists the highlights and links to the study:

AEI Public Opinion Study: Public Opinion on the Fifth Anniversary of the Iraq War

Just prior to the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow and public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman releases an updated collection of survey data on attitudes about the war in Iraq. This AEI Public Opinion Study entitled “Public Opinion on the War with Iraq,” is the most comprehensive collection of surveys on the topic from major pollsters. Among the highlights:

  • Strong majorities, 59 percent in Gallup’s latest survey, say that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Virtually the same percentage of Americans, 60 percent from the same late February 2008 Gallup survey, also say that we should set a timetable for removing troops from Iraq. Policymakers should not jump the gun though. Only a small fraction of Americans — around 20 percent in most polls — support immediate withdrawal.
  • In the Pew Research Center’s latest February 2008 survey, the country was evenly split with 48 percent of the country saying that U.S. military effort in Iraq was going very/fairly well and 48 percent also saying it was going not too/not at all well. This is a marked improvement from this same time last year. One possible explanation comes from the same Pew survey which broke down specific areas of concern in Iraq such as training Iraqi security forces, reducing civilian casualties, establishing democracy, etc. In every category, the percentage saying that the United States was making progress had increased from its previous asking last fall.
  • Pluralities of Americans believe that the surge is making progress. In Gallup’s latest survey, 40 percent said the surge was making the situation better in Iraq, 38 percent said it was making no difference, and 20 percent said it was making things worse. This is up substantially from July 2007 when only 17 percent said the surge was making the situation better, 49 percent said it was having no impact, and 30 percent said it was making things worse.
  • President Bush continues to receive very low marks for his handling of the war. In the most recent CBS News/New York Times survey, 31 percent approved of his handling of the situation with Iraq. Generically, Democrats lead the Republicans as the party better able to handle the situation in Iraq. Specifically, John McCain leads Hillary Clinton and separately, Barack Obama, as the candidate who could do a better job there.

To read the full study and for more historical and current data on many different aspects of the war, in addition to these selected highlights, please go to: http://www.aei.org/publicopinion2

Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008
Under: Iraq War | No Comments »

Report details civil disobedience at recruiting sites

My colleague Josh Richman at the Oakland Tribune blogged about a report out from Move America Forward, a conservative group responsible for the grassroots’ response to Berkeley’s bid to expel a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station.

The document, Josh wrote, lists acts of civil disobedience, vandalism or violence at military recruiting stations across the nation in recent years. But he found parts of it underwhelming. Click here to go to his blog.

The blog also feature an interesting post from former conservative radio talkshow host Melanie Morgan.

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008
Under: Iraq War | No Comments »

Tauscher offers observations on fourth trip to Iraq

In a lengthy phone call with Rep. Ellen Tauscher this afternoon following her White House debriefing about her fourth trip to Iraq, she once again expressed her continued dissatisfaction with the pace of political progress there.

(Tauscher posted a very interesting web diary during her trip. Click here to read her entries.)

“It’s very apparent that the Iraqis have woefully abused the military surge and the modicum of security that it has provided,” said Tauscher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairwoman of its strategic arms sub-committee. “The military surge was promised as an opportunity for the Iraqis to have a political surge but they have not redoubled their efforts for any significant political reconciliation, which is the only way to stop the civil war.”

Tauscher led a three-member delegation to Iraq and they spent 36 hours on the ground in Baghdad over the weekend meeting with four of the top five Iraqi government leaders, U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

She was joined by reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Jon Porter, R-Nev.

Tauscher has stayed away from Baghdad for the past two years, convinced there was little new to see. But she decided to return in advance of Petraeus’ planned September report on the status of the military surge to Congress. In addition, a 70-page report assessing the military and political conditions in Iraq by the General Accountability Office is scheduled to be delivered to Congress next Tuesday. And a second report, by an independent commission of military experts, is being drafted.

On the heels of these reports, Congress is expected to debate another war funding supplemental bill.

“September is going to be the perfect storm on Iraq,” Tauscher said.

A trip to Baghdad for a member of Congress is a hyper-security event. Tauscher wore body armor, a helmet and rode in armored vehicles, an uncomfortable experience in the 115-plus-degree heat even for trained soldiers. She slept in the military’s version of a VIP dormitory and was under guard nearly every single minute of her stay.

In Tauscher’s web diary, she repeatedly makes the point that she will never complain about the pizza-oven heat, the heavy clothing or the tight security.

“These brave soldiers are wearing evening gear, long sleeved uniforms AND carrying their equipment, water, and weapons,” she wrote on Saturday. “I’m leaving tomorrow night and they have weeks or months to serve and survive. God bless them all.”

But it is a war zone and there are no guarantees of safety. The military compound where Tauscher slept came under a mortar attack at 4 a.m. Sunday. She awoke but thought the noise came from the air conditioner and fell back asleep.

During the delegates’ whirlwind of meetings, Tauscher said she told Iraqi leaders they must do more to resolve their sectarian conflicts and reach a consensus government.

“They responded with a litany of excuses, including the fact that it is dangerous and hard and at different moments, they blame each other,” Tauscher said. “It’s like a bad divorce with everyone pointing fingers.”

Tauscher says she expects Petraeus to ask Congress to give the military surge more time despite evidence that the U.S. cannot physically sustain the troop levels in Iraq.

“He will say that the military surge has had some success — he will claim more success than I think he can — and he will say that the risk of leaving is too great,” Tauscher said.

Back in Washington, D.C., Tauscher debriefed with Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official assigned to handle Iraq issues.

In addition to her general observations, Tauscher said she recommended to Lute that the U.S. close down the so-called “Green Zone,” a heavily secured area of Baghdad that houses Iraq’s parliament.

“I call it the ‘Green Zone Fog,’ a dangerous group-think area where the diplomats and the government and military officials all use the same clauses, nouns and inflections,” she said. “It’s all air conditioned, all security all the time and it’s just the wrong optic. The Iraqi parliament needs to get out of the Green Zone so their constituents can see them.”

She also called for the U.S. to vacate Saddam Hussein’s old palaces, particularly Camp Victory where Petraeus has his headquarters.

“Those optics are wrong, too,” she said.

The U.S. has run out of good options in Iraq and continuing on the current path will only increase the risk to national security, Tauscher concluded.

“Leaving Iraq is going to have significant repercussions but staying doesn’t assure that the Iraqis get their act together or that the region steps up to help stabilize Iraq,” Tauscher said.

To that end, Tauscher sent a letter to President George Bush calling for a “Cairo Reconciliation Summit in October with the United Nations, European Union and the Arab League to provide a forum for sectarian reconciliation and confidence building measures for the Iraqi government.”

UPDATE: ThinkProgress also did an interview with Tauscher. Click here for the link.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
Under: Congress, Iraq War | No Comments »