General Mattis wants to increase U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen, which has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, including by selling Saudi Arabia even more weapons. In addition to producing humanitarian catastrophe, Saudi Arabia's war is helping Al Qaeda in Yemen. Imitating war profiteer Milo Minderbender in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, who fights on both sides and bombs his own squadron to increase his profits, by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, we indirectly arm Al Qaeda in Yemen, who we're also bombing.
Urge the Senate to address Saudi-Al Qaeda ties before selling more weapons by signing our petition at MoveOn.
"In their fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels," Just Security reports, "the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and its Saudi backers, have worked with local actors with suspected ties to al-Qaeda. Sometimes this means the targets being tracked by the US are actually cutting deals and getting their hands on weapons thanks to connections they have with the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition, to which the US provides support. Laying bare these thorny battlefield alliances in Yemen is crucial as the Trump administration considers stepping up US military involvement in the country."
Saudi Arabia's war and blockade have pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. But the Trump Administration wants to sell Saudi Arabia even more weapons. Under U.S. law, weapons exports are supposed to be conditioned on requirements that civilians be protected from their use. Unfortunately, Congressional "oversight" of U.S. weapons exports has often been virtually absent, particularly for countries like Saudi Arabia that have bought a lot of influence in Washington.
Senators Murphy, Paul, Durbin and Franken have now introduced Senate Joint Resolution 40, which would tighten these requirements in the case of Saudi Arabia. Under SJRes40, the Administration would have to publicly certify that Saudi Arabia is complying with international humanitarian law in Yemen and facilitating the flow of aid into Yemen in order for arms sales to proceed.
On September 21, 27 Senators voted against arming Saudi Arabia. The more Senators co-sponsor SJRes40, the more Senate support we have for blocking the sale of weapons if Saudi Arabia doesn't change its behavior in Yemen.
Urge Senators to co-sponsor SJRes40 by signing our petition at MoveOn.
At 5:30 PM today, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is having a Town Hall Meeting at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
Please call Dick Durbin's office in Springfield now at 217-492-4062. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say something like:
"I urge Senator Durbin in his speech at Illinois Wesleyan to join the bipartisan call on Saudi Arabia to permit humanitarian groups access to Hodeida to avert famine in Yemen."
When you've made your call, please report it below.
Yesterday, a bipartisan group of ten Senators urged Secretary of State Tillerson to launch an urgent diplomatic effort to address obstacles in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen preventing humanitarian aid from being delivered to people who desperately need it.
About Yemen, the ten Senators wrote:
In Yemen, the World Food Program estimates that 80% of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. In short, millions of innocent people will starve to death without concerted and urgent action in the coming weeks.
In Yemen, we ask that the Department of State work urgently with stakeholders to persuade combatants to permit humanitarian groups increased access to Red Sea ports like Hodeida to deliver much-needed assistance to vulnerable communities.
Please call Dick Durbin at 217-492-4062 now.
And if you haven't signed our petition to Senator Durbin yet, you can do that here.
President Trump has already "increased logistical support" for the Saudi bombing of Houthis in Yemen. Trump Administration officials are threatening to conduct drone strikes against the Houthis. But Congress never authorized this war. Under the War Powers Resolution, a single Member of Congress could force a debate and vote on what Trump is doing. Unfortunately, we haven't got a single Member of Congress to agree to do this yet.
That’s why I'm going to visit the offices of Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth in Chicago today (February 7th, 2017). I'm going to deliver the Illinois signatures on this petition, urging Durbin and Duckworth to stand up on Saudi-Yemen war powers before Trump can further escalate the war.
Here's how you can help:
1. Call Durbin's Chicago office at 312-353-4952 and/or Duckworth's Chicago office at (312) 886-3506. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say:
"I urge Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth to invoke the War Powers Resolution to force Congressional debate on Trump's escalation of the Saudi war in Yemen."
When you've made your call(s), please report that below.
2. Sign and share our petition if you haven't already. If you already signed and shared, please share it again.
At long last, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote this week on an authorization for the use of force for the war against ISIS that started in early August. There is little doubt that a majority of the committee supports the use of force against ISIS. What will be revealed this week is what limits the committee will support in authorizing the use of force.
Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the floodgates opened in Washington this week for reconsideration of U.S. plans to continue the open-ended war in Afghanistan.
Now Representatives Jim McGovern and Walter Jones have introduced the "Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act," bipartisan legislation that would require the President present to Congress a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a clear end date for the war. It would require the President to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the progress of troop withdrawal, as well as the human and financial costs of continuing the war. The President would also have to report how much money U.S. taxpayers would save if the war were brought to an end in six months, instead of five, ten, or twenty years.
Other Members of Congress have spoken out this week against indefinite continuation of the war, including Senators Dick Durbin , Richard Lugar, and Robert Menendez; (jointly) Representatives Lee, Ellison, Grijalva, Woolsey, and Waters; Representative Barney Frank; and Representative Cliff Stearns.
We got our man. Wave the flag, kiss a nurse, and start packing the equipment. It's time to plan to bring all our boys and girls home from Afghanistan. When the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks rolls around, let the world see that we are on a clear path to bringing home our troops from Afghanistan and handing back sovereignty to the Afghan people.
With more Sherlock Holmes than Rambo, and judging from press accounts, not much role for the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence tracked Osama bin Laden to a safe house in a well-appointed suburb of Pakistan's capital and a small U.S. force raided the compound. Press reports say Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight in the compound and that his body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Islamic tradition that expects a burial within 24 hours.
Success typically has many authors, and I don't doubt the ability of some to argue that our occupation of Afghanistan has contributed to this result. Perhaps it will turn out that some prisoner captured in Afghanistan by U.S. forces contributed a key piece of information that helped investigators find bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
And of course it will be argued, correctly, that Osama bin Laden's death is not necessarily the end of al Qaeda nor of groups inspired by al Qaeda; indeed, that there will be an incentive now for al Qaeda and al Qaeda-inspired groups to retaliate and to prove that they can still carry out actions against the United States.
If you've ever spent quality time trying to move an agenda through Congress, you know that moving an agenda isn't just about lobbying individual Members. You need a "champion" for your issue. The champion introduces your bill. The champion recruits other offices to sign up. The champion introduces an amendment that carries the same idea as the bill and lobbies other Members to vote for it. The champion circulates letters to other offices. The champion raises the profile of your issue in the media.
When Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold lost his bid for re-election, advocates working to end the war in Afghanistan lost their champion in the Senate. It was Feingold's office that introduced the bill, introduced the amendment, circulated the letter, led the lobbying of other offices, led the charge in the media.
Now California Senator Barbara Boxer has re-introduced Feingold's bill requiring the President to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan - a timetable with an end date. So far, Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Harkin, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown have signed on as co-sponsors of Senator Boxer's bill.
The re-introduction of this bill is extremely timely and important, for two reasons.
Since E.D. Hirsch failed in his noble jihad to enforce Cultural Literacy, I can't assume readers are familiar with the scene in Annie Hall in which Woody Allen stops a movie line bloviator from pontificating about Marshall McLuhan by producing the actual Marshall McLuhan from behind a movie poster to tell the pontificator off. So here is a clip:
Allen concludes the scene by saying to the camera, "Boy, if life were only like this."
But the funny thing is, sometimes life is just like that, and in the past week we have been presented with a spectacular, world-historical example.
A standard bloviator talking point in the last few weeks against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange has been: the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. diplomatic cables is nothing like the Pentagon Papers case which exposed the US government's fundamental lying to the public about the Vietnam War, and Julian Assange and alleged leaker Bradley Manning are nothing like Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. This Manichean division between "good" and "bad" leakers has been recited with great earnestness: "Four legs good, two legs baaaad!"
A striking example was noted by Sam Husseini on December 5 , citing an appearance by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin on CBS' "Face the Nation":