– 2006-03-20 08:17:16
Barbara Lee Amendment on Permanent Bases
Approved in Debate on Iraq War Supplemental Spending Bill
Congresswoman Barbara Lee / t r u t h o u t
WASHINGTON, DC (March 16, 2006) — Today, during debate on the to an emergency spending bill for the War in Iraq, the House approved an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) that will prohibit the use of funds to enter in to basing agreements that would lead to a permanent military presence in Iraq.
The amendment to H.R.4939, the administration’s $91 billion supplemental request for Iraq, Afghanistan and Katrina relief, was approved by a voice vote. Lee, who last year introduced H.Con.Res. 197, to make it “the policy of the United States not to enter into any base agreement with the Government of Iraq that would lead to a permanent United States military presence in Iraq,” gave the following statement on the House floor:
“This amendment is not about the war, though I offered an alternative to keep us out of Iraq. This amendment is not about bringing our troops home, though I believe we should. This amendment is not about holding the President accountable for misleading us into an unjust and unnecessary war, though we should.
“Mr. Chairman, the amendment we are offering is very simple: it would provide that no funds be used under this bill to enter into military base agreements between the US and Iraq. Stating this will clearly indicate that the US has no intention of making military bases permanent.
“Mr. Chairman, can’t we all agree – right here and right now – that we should not be in Iraq permanently. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, the administration’s position is unclear.
“Mr. Chairman, the President shares our view and has said as much. April 13, 2004 the President said, ‘as a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America.’
“But just yesterday, General John Abazaid, the Army general in charge of the US troops in Iraq, told the House Defense Appropriations committee that the US could end up having permanent bases in Iraq.
“Mr. Chairman, we need to be clear. The aim of our amendment is to simply codify the sentiment that the President, many of our constituents, and many of us strongly believe.
“As we stand here today, the United States has renewed a bombing campaign against the insurgents; the largest assault since the invasion. And this is taking us in the exact wrong direction. Destroying villages in the hopes of routing out insurgents will only create more.
“In adopting this amendment we can take the target off our troops’ backs by sending a strong and immediate signal to the Iraqi people, the insurgents, and the international community that the United States has no designs on Iraq.
“Mr. Chairman, this very point is supported by a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) earlier this year. PIPA found that 76 percent of Iraqi’s believe that US will maintain bases in Iraq permanently, even if the newly elected government asks the US to leave Iraq.
“Congress needs to be on record. We must not have permanent military bases in Iraq.”
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Good News: House Votes to Block Permanent Iraq Bases, Protect Civilians in Darfur
Friends Committee on National Legislation
This week the House voted to approve one of two key components of FCNL’s Iraq STEP Resolution and to protect civilians in Darfur. These victories are the result of your hard work: the thousands of emails you’ve sent to your representatives on Iraq and Darfur, the in-district lobby meetings with your members of Congress, your efforts to gain endorsements for FCNL’s STEP proposal, and your phone calls. Congratulations!
Here’s what happened on Iraq: The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday night, March 16, to prevent the U.S. from establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. Reps. Allen (ME), Lee (CA), Hinchey (NY), and Schakowsky (IL) sponsored the amendment to the emergency supplemental funding bill that states “None of the funds in this Act may be used by the U.S. government to enter into a basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq.”
Now we need to work to ensure that the Senate adopts an even stronger amendment, taking the first steps toward a withdrawal of all U.S. military troops and bases from Iraq. Find out how at http://capwiz.com/fconl/go/iraqfund_sen.
House Demands Change in US Policy
On the same day U.S. military forces launched the largest air-assault since early in the war, the House of Representatives voted to demand a change in policy in Iraq. The vote came just two days after Gen. John Abizaid told Congress the U.S. may want to keep a long term military presence in Iraq. Read more about Abizaid’s statment.
For the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the House has asserted its right – and responsibility – to demand the administration abandon three years of failed policy in Iraq. FCNL hopes the vote marks a first step toward a new policy in Iraq. We also hope it isn’t too late
This weekend Iraqis will mark the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion. The war rages, while religious and ethnic divisions in the country appear to be growing, not subsiding. A large majority of Iraqis believe the U.S. has no intention of ever leaving their country, according to opinion polls.
Two of every three people in this country now believe the Iraq invasion was a war of choice, not of necessity and there is broad opposition to permanent U.S. military bases. The House vote sends a strong signal to Iraqis and the international community that the U.S. does not have imperial ambitions in that country.
How Did This Vote Happen?
Reps. Allen, Lee, Hinchey, and Schakowsky deserve much of the credit for sponsoring the amendment banning bases. Also speaking in favor of this amendment, were Reps. Conyers (MI), Harman (CA), Jackson Lee (TX), Kucinich (OH), Moran (VA), David Price (NC), Waters (CA), and Woolsey (CA).
These members of Congress had strong support from FCNL constituents in their states; support that was, in some cases, critical to their engagement. Last year, Rep. Allen, following conversations with FCNL constituents in his home state, introduced language that would essentially codify FCNL’s STEP proposal into law (HR 3142). And Rep. Lee has also thanked FCNL for supporting her no permanent bases bill (H. Con Res. 197) and for the map of proposed permanent bases in Iraq developed by FCNL.
House Increases Money to Protect Civilians in Darfur, Sudan
The House of Representatives also voted this week to increase emergency funding for the African Union Mission in Sudan, an important step forward in the process of preventing genocide and protecting civilians in Darfur.
A small African Union peacekeeping force of 7,000 is all that stands between the people of Darfur and horrific violence that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more in western Sudan.
The president in February requested an additional $123 million in funding to support this mission as part of the emergency supplemental legislation debated on the floor of the House this afternoon. On Thursday, March 16, House members voted 213 to 208 to support an amendment offered by Rep. Capuano (MA) to increase funding for that mission by $50 million to a total of $173 million.
Before the vote Rep. Capuano wrote a letter to his colleagues urging support for the amendment and his staff specifically cited the importance of the letter FCNL organized from non-governmental organizations urging an increase in funding for the African Union mission.
Funding for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) is more crucial than ever. Last Friday the AU authorized the continuation of AMIS until at least September 30th to allow sufficient time for continued negotiations on allowing UN peacekeepers in Darfur.
As AU peacekeepers are likely to remain the only force on the ground charged with protecting civilians in the near future, it is all the more critical for AMIS to be fully funded and given the resources to effectively protect civilians and prevent further destabilization in Darfur.
• For more information, read the FCNL Recommendations for US Policy in Sudan.
• Contact Congress and the Administration: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/
• Order FCNL publications and “War is Not the Answer” campaign bumper stickers and yard signs:
Friends Committee on National Legislation
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Congressional Iraq STEP Resolution
Sensible Transition to an Enduring Peace
Whereas President George W. Bush stated on April 13, 2004 that “as a proud and independent people, Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation and neither does America” and that the U.S. will remain in Iraq “as long as necessary and not one day more”;
Whereas Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assured the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 17, 2005, that “we have no intention, at the present time, of putting permanent bases in Iraq”;
Whereas Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, stated on June 7, 2005, that “I know from President Bush, I know from our other senior officials, that there is no U.S. plan for permanent military bases in Iraq”;
Whereas the Wall Street Journal reported in February 2005 that 60% of the people in the United States think that the Bush administration should set a public or private timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq;
Whereas former Secretary of State James Baker, former Pentagon official Anthony Cordesman, the International Crisis Group, and other respected leaders and analysts have said that it is critical that the US government declare now its intention to fully withdraw from Iraq;
Whereas the perception that the US intends to permanently occupy Iraq aids insurgent groups in recruiting supporters and fuels violent activity;
Whereas many insurgent groups have expressed a willingness to engage in political dialogue if the U.S. clearly states its intention to withdraw from Iraq;
Whereas we can best honor the lives and memories of all who have died in Iraq by expediting the end of the war, bringing US troops home as quickly as possible, and supporting the Iraqi people in rebuilding their country;
Whereas a clear statement of intent to fully withdraw US troops and bases does not imply the setting of a particular deadline, time frame, or exit strategy;
Whereas such a statement would send a strong signal to the people of Iraq and the international community that the United States does not have imperial intentions in Iraq and affirms that the Iraqi people will regain through their elected representatives the full exercise of national sovereignty, including control over security and public safety;
Therefore, be it resolved that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States supports the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, the people of Iraq, and the leaders of Iraq’s government;
Be it also resolved that the people of the United States support the Iraqi people’s desire to rebuild Iraq as a fully sovereign, stable, and peaceful democratic country;
To this end, be it resolved that it is the policy of the United States to withdraw all US military troops and bases from Iraq.
Abizaid Says US May Want to Keep Bases in Iraq
Vicki Allen / Reuters
WASHINGTON (Mar 15, 2006) – The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect the flow of oil, the Army general overseeing U.S. military operations in Iraq said on Tuesday.
While the Bush administration has downplayed prospects for permanent US bases in Iraq, Gen. John Abizaid told a House of Representatives subcommittee he could not rule that out.
Abizaid said that policy would be worked out with a unified, national Iraqi government if and when that is established, “and it would be premature for me to predict.”
Many Democrats have pressed President George W. Bush to firmly state that the United States does not intend to seek permanent military bases in Iraq, a step they said would help stem the violence there.
Abizaid also told the Appropriations subcommittee on military quality of life that while an Iraqi civil war was possible, “I think it’s a long way from where we are now to civil war.”
Echoing Bush’s statement on Monday on the outlook for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq, Abizaid said if Iraqis can form a unified government, “I think there’s every reason to believe … that we’ll be able to bring the size of the force down much more so by December of ’06.”
Abizaid cited the need to fight al Qaeda and other extremists groups and “the need to be able to deter ambitions of an expansionistic Iran” as potential reasons to keep some level of troops in the region in the long term.
But he said it would be far less than the 200,000 currently deployed in the region, including 132,000 in Iraq.
“Clearly our long-term vision for a military presence in the region requires a robust counter-terrorist capability,” Abizaid said. “No doubt there is a need for some presence in the region over time primarily to help people help themselves through this period of extremists versus moderates.”
Abizaid also said the United States and its allies have a vital interest in the oil-rich region.
“Ultimately it comes down to the free flow of goods and resources on which the prosperity of our own nation and everybody else in the world depend,” he said.
Rep. David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, questioned “what kind of signal that sends to the American people and to the Iraqis and the region … if somehow there is ambiguity on our ultimate designs in terms of a military presence in Iraq.”
Rep. Jane Harman of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, in a letter to Bush last week said his “continuing failure to clarify U.S. intentions provides an excuse for certain Iraqis to avoid compromise and jeopardizes our ability to succeed in Iraq.”
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