United States News Digest
Perpetual War Is Incompatible with a Republic
April 11 (EIRNS)While not explicitly referencing the destruction of Athens by its participation in the imperial Peloponnesian War, in his testimony yesterday before the House International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Bruce Fein, a former Reagan-era Justice Department official, made the point that the very existence of a republic is incompatible with perpetual war. During his testimony, Fein thus elevated the question of Congressional war powers from the level of a legal, technical issue, to one of the existence of the nation.
In a very passionate, extemporaneous statement, Fein told the panel, chaired by Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), that the destruction of republics has been the excessive pursuit of war, and he quoted James Madison to the effect that a republic and perpetual war are irreconcilable. The war against al-Qaeda has no end, he said. "Where's the case where a country has suffered from too few wars?" he asked. "It's always the case that it's too many wars that bring countries down." He concluded by telling the subcommittee that the responsibility of Congress is to defend the interests of the United States, not to become an empire.
The hearing was on legislation by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) which would amend the 1973 War Powers Resolution to more clearly enumerate the responsibilities of both the Congress and the Executive branch on the matter of making war in order to improve Congressional oversight, which has been absent for about the last three decades. Jones said, during the hearing, that his bill was an effort to have a debate and discussion about the responsibilities of Congress on the matter of taking the nation to war.
Did Cheney Push Maliki into Attack on Basra?
April 9 (EIRNS)Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, during an April 7 interview on Antiwar Radio, noted that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's assault on the Iraqi city of Basra was preceded by Dick Cheney's visit to Baghdad the previous week. "I have heard that in the aftermath [of the assault] that al-Maliki was complaining bitterly to his closest aides that Cheney had been the one who pushed him into it," Giraldi said. Giraldi added that the report was unconfirmed, but that it "seems to indicate that the activist role Cheney pursues is becoming dominant."
Giraldi, speaking a day before the Congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus, refuted the notion that Iran is at the heart of all of the Bush Administration's troubles in Iraq. He said he expected Petraeus to echo Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), last year, when he said that Iran is already at war with the U.S., which, he said, "elevates the possibility of hostilities." The reality, Giraldi said, is that there's no evidence that Iran is fomenting some sort of insurrection against the Iraqi government. In fact, the Iraqi government is made up of a coalition of two parties, al-Maliki's Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, that have ties with Iran going back 30 years. He noted that it was Iran that engineered the ceasefire between the government and Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, two weeks ago, and that some people say that they did that because they saw that their people, that is, the parties running the government, were about to lose.
Clinton: Ban Use of Mercenaries in Iraq
April 7 (EIRNS)In a March 28 official statement on her Senate website, Hillary Clinton announced that she has co-sponsored legislation to ban the use of Blackwater and other private contracting firms in Iraq. Here is the full statement:
"From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command."
Her website adds, "The legislation requires that all personnel at any U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq be provided security services only by Federal Government Personnel. It also includes a whistleblower clause to protect contract personnel who uncover contract violations, criminal actions, or human rights abuses." Clinton joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who have sought to rein in private security contractors. Clinton noted, in a speech on April 7, that her Democratic Presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama, has not ruled out continuing to use armed contractors in Iraq.
On April 4, the Bush Administration renewed Blackwater's contract, scheduled to end on May 7, for another year, despite an ongoing FBI investigation into the killings of civilians by Blackwater guards.
Donors Named in Rezko Trial Gave Big Bucks to Obama
April 7 (EIRNS)Investigative work by a private group in Chicago has shown that $222,000 of the war chest that Barack Obama acquired between 2001 and 2004, some of which went toward his Senator campaign, came from the tainted networks exposed in the Tony Rezko bribery and kickbacks criminal trial. The Los Angeles Times reported today that a Chicago-based nonprofit group, the Better Government Association, had cross-gridded the names of contributors to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, listed in an FBI-produced spreadsheet used as evidence in the opening days of the Rezko trial, with Obama's contributor list, and found that some of these were also maximum contributors to Obama.
One example noted by the Times blog says, "Rezko ... was, for instance, a link between Obama and Santa Monica developer Jay Wilton of Wilton Partners. On July 16, 2003, Wilton gave $5,000 to Obama's first U.S. Senate run. A few days later, Wilton gave $50,000 to Blagojevich, Illinois state records show. Unlike the Federal system, Illinois state campaign finance places no limit on contributions to state candidates.
"Another overlapping donor is John Rogers, head of Ariel Capital, a Chicago-based investment firm. Rogers gave $12,500 to Blagojevich in 2004, the FBI spreadsheet shows. Rogers has also given Obama $25,000, state and FEC records reveal."
But aides to Obama and Rogers say that the two men were friends independent of the Rezko connection.
Murtha: Iraq War 'Going Nowhere'; Clinton Would Get Us Out
April 6 (EIRNS)Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), speaking in part as a chief representative of Sen. Hillary Clinton's Pennsylvania primary campaign, told CNN's "Late Edition" today that the United States has to get its forces out of Iraq "as fast as practicable" to end an occupation strategy that "is going nowhere" and costing $14 billion a month, nearly double the level of a year ago. A President Hillary Clinton, Murtha said, would get the United States out of Iraq an about one year.
As Murtha spoke, heavy fighting was again raging in Baghdad, in the Sadr City district. Murtha wryly noted that if U.S. Commander Gen. David Petraeus had testified in March, he would have said the Iraq "surge" was a success; but this week, Petraeus will say, "It's complex." Murtha noted that production of electricity, oil, employment levels are all still below those of pre-invasion Iraq, and said Americans want government funds invested here, against a collapse in the U.S. economy, rather than in "Iraq reconciliation which is not going anywhere."
Lyndon LaRouche reemphasized that the British, in collusion with Cheney during his March trip through the Mideast, triggered the current return to escalating violence across Iraq. "Get Cheney out of government, get the Brit Brutes out of there, and you have a chance for Mideast peace," LaRouche said.
Rendell: Florida Vote Stands, Delegation Should Be Seated
April 6 (EIRNS)Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton in a brief interview on NBC-TV today, presented a forceful argument for seating the elected Florida Presidential primary delegates, similar to that laid out in a statement by LaRouche PAC on March 14. Rendell explained that Florida Democrats had done nothing wrong by voting in their January primary election. Rendell spoke on MSNBC's "Meet the Press," on behalf of Clinton, debating Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, the Obama spokesman, two weeks before the crucial Pennsylvania primary.
Rendell said that Florida's Republican governor and Republican-controlled House and Senate had forced through the change in the date of the primary elections there, and that the state's Democrats had opposed the change, unsuccessfully trying to stay within DNC guidelines. The Democrats had no choice but to vote at the appointed time, Rendell said, and 1.7 million turned out. He said the Democratic delegation elected in the Florida primary should be seated with full rights at the Denver Democratic Convention.