Will the Out of Iraq Caucus Live Up to Its Name?

Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters

After the near comatose nod to escalation of US troops in Afghanistan, passage of H.R. 2346, the 97-billion Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009, is in doubt in the House – not because of the strength of the anti-war movement, which morphed into the elect-Obama-movement, nor due to the high suicide rate amongst veterans, but because the GOP is miffed the bill contains billions to increase the lending capacity of the International Monetary Fund.

With Republicans opposed or on the fence about the supplemental, the power to defeat the war-funding bill rests in the hands of those in the Out of Iraq Caucus, led by Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, as well as with congress members who want to see the torture architects in the Bush administration held accountable for ordering water boarding, stress positions, rape, and more. Besides setting aside another 97-billion for war and occupation, the 2009 supplemental also includes the Graham-Lieberman Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009, which allows the administration to block the release of detainee photos including those taken at Abu Ghraib. The senate, recently, voted to include this provision in the supplemental, which means President Obama and the Pentagon can suppress any “photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States.”

In other words, a vote for this bill, with its Graham-Lieberman provision, is a vote for protecting those who were involved in the torture regime under the Bush administration. If some of those same torturers are still in government today, commanding a battalion or something greater, then the anti-war Democrats who, from the start, voted against the US invasion of Iraq may find themselves in a political stress position – with one arm tied to their anti-war base and the other to the Democratic leadership who opposes prosecution and wants to keep the Pandora’s box of war sins closed forever. There are 73 members of the Out of Iraq Caucus; only 39 Democrats need to join the Republicans and effectively block the supplemental war spending bill. If there were ever a time for determined leadership, it is now — and the anti-war leader in the House is Waters.

The military says it needs the next batch of billions by July; otherwise other budget accounts will have to be raided to pay for the wars that never end.

According to a report on the Huffington Post, the House leadership hoped for a vote on the measure last Friday, but pulled the bill when it looked like it might be defeated.

If I were in Las Vegas , I wouldn’t bet odds on my 2010 congressional opponent Jane Harman voting to block the supplemental; nor would I put money on California congress members Berman, Waxman, Sherman or Schiff. I might, however, press my luck on Waters, one of the original 132 House members who voted against the invasion of Iraq, and I might expect other Out of Iraq Caucus members like Diane Watson, Bob Filner, Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee to say nay, not another dime for these war crimes – but that’s only if the anti-war base that elected Obama speaks up at this critical moment. According to Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, the House Democratic leadership is hoping to change the hearts and minds of key Democrats listed– here. On the list are Waters, Watson, Woolsey, Kucinch, and Congressman John Conyers, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee who should not have to swallow such a bitter and bloody pill to stay in good favor with those who control the committee chairs.

winograd1

With army commander Casey suggesting we need to occupy Iraq for another 10 years and the Pentagon sending another 20,000 troops to Afghanistan, speaking up will require high-decibel action. On your marks, get set, dial. 202-224-3121

Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd is running for Congress in 2010, challenging Jane Harman in southern California’s 36th district. For more on the race, visit Winograd4Congress.com and become a fan on Facebook at Marcy Winograd for Congress.

Published by the LA Progressive on June 8, 2009
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About Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd is a blogger, activist, and public school teacher in Los Angeles. You can follow her on twitter: marcywinograd