Don't Let Congress Fund More War

Tim Rinne
State Coordinator

Like the Bush/Cheney Administration before it, the Obama White House is playing budget games to pay for its ‘War on Terrorism.’  

Before the end of the month, Congress will vote on a $33 billion ‘supplemental appropriation’ for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, which have now cost the U.S. treasury over $1 trillion.  

The fiscal trickery and budgetary sleight of hand is disturbing, to say the least.  

First, to conceal the cost of these increasingly unpopular wars, the Obama Administration has deliberately excluded this $33 billion expenditure from the overall federal budget.  

Secondly, the Democratic leadership has tucked this off-budget military expense into a larger $63 billion supplemental appropriation that also includes ‘impossible-to-vote-against’ items like disaster relief funding for FEMA, Haiti earthquake reconstruction funds, compensation for veterans exposed to ‘Agent Orange,’ and financial settlements for American Indian land trust claims and discrimination claims by black farmers. 

And finally, the lion’s share of the $33 billion will go to underwrite the cost of the ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that the Obama Administration ordered last December. In effect, the appropriation bill is a tab that we must now settle up for the costs we’ve accumulated in the past six months.

But this is not just sleazy politicking to sustain a flawed military policy. This, pure and simple, is why our country is ‘Goin’ Broke Paying for War.’   

Nationally known author and journalist David Swanson, who covered the international conference on StratCom that NFP and the “Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space” co-sponsored in Omaha two years ago, just wrote in a column entitled “More War, Fewer Jobs, Poor Excuses”:

Remember what this $33 billion actually involves: adding more troops, support troops, and private contractors, whose work, in turn, will mean ongoing higher costs to maintain the Afghan occupation, construct new bases there, fuel the machines of war and provide the weaponry. Keep in mind as well that various other costs associated with the president’s most recent ‘surge’ are hidden in the budgets of the CIA, the Department of State, and other parts of the government. Looking just at the military, however, this is $33 billion to be added to an unfathomable pile of waste.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, Congress has already approved $345 billion for war in Afghanistan, not to mention $708 billion in Iraq. 

That same $33 billion, if invested here at home, he goes on to say, could underwrite “20 green energy jobs paying $50,000 per year here in the United States for every soldier sent to Afghanistan; a job, that is, for each of those former soldiers and 19 other Americans.”

Even with Democrats controlling both the White House and Congress, our national priorities are fiscally and economically askew.

But they’re askew ethically as well.

Just this past week it was reported that the Obama Administration has expanded the CIA and StratCom’s authority to conduct drone missile attacks against suspected militant targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For several years now, the CIA and the military have been using unpiloted drones to hunt down and kill an approved list of known al-Qaida and Taliban militants. Now however, it’s been revealed that the CIA, Blackwater and StratCom are waging these targeted assassinations from the air against suspected targets whose names are not even known.  With StratCom’s direct assistance, the U.S. is robotically raining death from the air and ‘killing without warning’ suspects our government cannot even identify by name—relying instead on a murky inexact process the military calls “pattern of life” analysis.

It’s hard to imagine anything more reprehensible than this—and from a nation that purports to be the most illustrious democracy on earth, where ‘due process’ and ‘innocence until proven guilty’ are hallmarks of our justice system.

This is what that $33 billion off-budget congressional appropriation is in part funding.  

This is what our Democratic political leadership is sanctioning.  

This is what our own local U.S. Strategic Command is daily up to its eyeballs in.

This week a national call-in campaign is being organized to lobby our senators and representatives against approving this ‘back-door’ $33 billion war appropriation. 

Take a moment today to make three calls: To the Washington offices of Senators Nelson and Johanns and to the office of your respective congressional representative. Tell them each to vote ‘no’ on the $33 billion appropriation and to support either Senator Russ Feingold’s Senate bill (S. 3197) or Representatives Jim McGovern’s and Walter Jones’ House bill (H.R. 5015) that would “require the President to develop a flexible timetable to draw down U.S. troops from Afghanistan.”  

You are also welcome to call the “White House Hotline” as well to let President Obama know how disturbed you are by his embrace of the Bush/Cheney Administration’s failed policy toward dealing with terrorism. 

The White House
Washington, DC 20500 
Comment Line: 202-456-1111 
202-456-2993 (Fax)

Sen. Ben Nelson
720 Hart Senate Office Bldg. 
Washington, D.C. 20510 
202-228-0012 (FAX) 
402-391-3411 (Omaha) 
402-441-4600 (Lincoln)

Sen. Mike Johanns
Senate Russell Courtyard 1 
Washington, DC 20510 
202-224-0436 (FAX) 
402-476-1400 (Lincoln) 
402-758-8981 (Omaha) 
308-632-6295 (Scottsbluff)

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, D-1
1517 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515 
402-438-1598 (Lincoln)

Rep. Lee Terry, D-2
1524 Longworth HOB 
Washington, DC 20515 
202-226-5452 (FAX) 
402-397-9944 (Omaha)

Rep. Adrian Smith, D-3
503 Cannon House Office Bldg. 
Washington, DC 20515 
202-225-0207 (FAX) 
888-ADRIAN7 (Toll Free)

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