Tag Archives: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senators who voted for Syrian war got more defense industry $

sell your soulLast Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, in a bipartisan 10-7 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution granting Obama authority to conduct military strikes war on Syria.

Approving the Syrian resolution are 3 Republicans and 7 Democrats:

  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
  • Bob Corker (R-TN)
  • John McCain (R-AZ)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Ben Cardin (D-CA)
  • Chris Coons (D-DE)
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Timothy Kaine (D-VA)
  • Bob Menéndez (D-NJ)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Opposing the resolution are 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats:

  • John Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Jim Risch (R-ID)
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)

Guess what?

The senators who voted in favor of Obama’s war against Syria received an average of 83% more campaign “contributions” from the defense industry than the senators who voted against war.

SURPRISE! . . . not.

pro-war senators1David Kravets reports for WIRED, Sept. 5, 2013, that the senators who had voted to authorize a Syria strike received, on average, 83% more campaign financing from defense contractors than lawmakers voting against war.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $1,006,887 to the 17 members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who voted yes or no on the authorization Wednesday, according to an analysis by Maplight, the Berkeley-based nonprofit that performed the inquiry at WIRED’s request.

Committee members who voted to authorize what the resolution called a “limited” strike averaged $72,850 in defense campaign financing from the pot. Committee members who voted against the resolution averaged $39,770, according to the data.

The analysis of contributions from employees and PACs of defense industry interests ranges from 2007 through 2012 — based on data tracked by OpenSecrets.org.

pro-war senatorsDick Durbin, John McCain, Timothy Kaine

The top three defense-campaign earners who voted “yes” were Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) at $176,000; Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) at $127,350; and Sen. Timothy Kaine (D-Virginia) at $101,025.

The top three defense-campaign earners who voted “no” were Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) at $86,500; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at $62,790; and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) at $59,250.

H/t RIA Novosti

~Eowyn

U.S. war against Syria: No clear goals, no good guys, will cost tens of millions

John Kerryl to r: Kerry, Hagel, Dempsey

Are you following the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees hearings on President Lucifer’s insistence on a war in Syria?

If you did, you’d know that his three henchmen — Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey — had difficulty answering questions about the purpose and objectives of our “humanitarian intervention.”

Below is extracted from Barbara Slavin’s report for Global Security, “US Congress Questions Rationale for Striking Syria ,” Sept. 5, 2013. I am not reproducing verbatim her article because I do not approve of the way she pigeonholes opponents to Obama’s war against Syria as “isolationist Tea Party Republicans and anti-war Democrats,” versus the pro-war faction as “neoconservatives and humanitarian interventionists.”

To those labels, I say “Horse Manure.” gift-box-with-a-piece-of-shit-smiley-emoticon

Is Slavin psychic? Her labels presume she knows what’s in the hearts and minds of anti- and pro-war Americans, which of course she doesn’t. The labels “isolationist Tea Party Republicans” and “anti-war Democrats” are offensive because they imply that both groups are reflexively (knee-jerk) against any and all wars. Excuse me, Slavin. I am against Obama’s war against Syria, not because I’m a knee-jerk “isolationist,” but because I have rational thought-out objections that I laid out in my post of Aug. 29, “Another Obama War: All signs point to Syria chemical attack being a false flag,” Aug. 29, 2013.

In other words, by slapping on those labels, Slavin is slanting her “reporting” toward those pushing for war, whom I choose to call WARMONGERS*.

*The dictionary defines warmonger as “One who advocates or attempts to stir up war.”

Slavin, you are not an objective journalist. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Now that that’s clarified, here’s information of value in her report:

[...] the congressional hearings this week have been extraordinary for their introspection and bipartisan nature.

Strange bedfellows have come together in both agreement and disagreement about the wisdom of hitting Syria in the aftermath of the alleged killing of hundreds of civilians in a Damascus suburb Aug. 21 with the nerve agent, sarin. A trio of U.S. war veterans – Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey – have struggled to convince members of Congress that “limited” strikes on Syria will deter Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons again.

The three also wanted to convince Congress that such strikes would not embroil the U.S. in a wider war, and show other U.S. adversaries such as Iran that Washington is serious about upholding red lines against the development, proliferation or use of weapons of mass destruction.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 on Wednesday in favor of giving the administration up to 90 days to conduct the strikes. But at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that took place while the Senate panel voted, isolationist Tea Party Republicans and anti-war Democrats[the war skeptics] appeared to outnumberneoconservatives and humanitarian interventionists[the warmongers].

Several House members asked questions and raised points, for which they did not receive satisfactory answers.

1. Who are the good guys in Syria?

Tom Marino

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA)

One of the toughest exchanges in the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing took place between Defense Secretary Hagel and Representative Tom Marino (R-Pennsylvania). Marino said he feared that U.S. hitting the Assad regime would benefit the Syrian opposition, which includes Islamic extremists who hate the United States. “Who are the good guys over there in Syria?” Marino asked. “Do you trust these people?”

Hagel, who had voted for the Iraq war but quickly came to regret that, conceded that there are “various groups that are part of the opposition.” Then Hagel tried to change the subject by saying that “the focus is not on good guys or bad guys, but on a narrow authorization” for the use of force to degrade Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons again.

2. There are no good guys

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said something eminently sensible: “We shouldn’t be dragged into someone else’s civil war where there are no good guys.”

Instead of actually responding to Duncan by identifying who the “good guys” are in Syria whose interests America presumably is defending by going to war, Kerry, Hagel and Dempsey instead tried to change the subject by warning there would be serious consequences if the U.S. doesn’t respond to Assad’s apparently massive use of chemical arms. Blah, blah, blah. The three WARMONGERS said a failure to act would lead to more innocent civilians being gassed, chemical weapons potentially proliferating and threatening U.S. military forces abroad and even the U.S. homeland!

3. Warmongers’ linking of Iran and Syria

Another justification provided by the WARMONGERS Kerry and Hagel is that Iran would be emboldened to continue a nuclear program that could give it the capability to make bombs.

Bruce Riedel

Bruce Riedel

But Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, questions the Obama administration’s linking of Iran and Syria. Riedel said that while “the Israelis want us to bomb Syria because they desperately fear Obama will back down on Iran, the two cases are very different. Syria is using WMD against its own people; Iran is developing a capability which it wants for deterrence.” Riedel then warns that “military action against either Syria or Iran will have unintended consequences probably unforeseen. Limited strikes can grow into open-ended campaigns that become increasingly costly.”

4. “Limited strikes” mean war!

Kerry also tried to emphasize the narrow nature of the strikes the administration contemplates, insisting that, “I don’t believe we’re going to war.”

However, Martin Dempsey admitted that attacking Syria would be “an act of war” and that the United States should be prepared for a variety of responses, including terrorism and cyber attacks.

Army General Dempsey should know. He is the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.

5. No clear goals for war

Now that it’s settled that a U.S. “humanitarian intervention” in Syria is “an act of war,” what then are our goals?

Alas, as Barbara Slavin reports, “The Obama administration is also having trouble defending its goals for the Syria mission – a kind of “Goldilocks,” not-too-hot, not-too-cold series of actions meant to deter Assad from using chemical weapons again and uphold U.S. credibility without giving too much advantage to rebels who have also committed serious human rights abuses.

Under questioning, Kerry conceded that the administration had more work to do to persuade Americans that U.S. military strikes on Syria are worth the risks. Kerry also promised that Obama would address the American people from the Oval Office to lay out the case for intervention in another Middle Eastern conflict.”

6. The financial costs of war

Many in Congress cited the likely financial costs of another American intervention as a reason for caution when the U.S. is short of funds to deal with urgent domestic needs.

On Wednesday, Hagel admitted the price tag for even limited strikes would likely be in the “tens of millions” of U.S. dollars. Kerry said unspecified Arab countries had offered “quite significant financial support” and that “some of them have said they will carry the whole cost” of U.S. strikes. But when pressed to name the countries that were offering to take part in the actual mission, Kerry listed only Turkey and France.

Was I asleep when France became an “Arab” country?

To conclude:

Overall, the Senate and House hearings underlined what public opinion polls have shown – that most Americans do not support direct U.S. military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern country. (See Trail Dust’s post, “Not in our names, Mr. Antichrist… ahem, Mr. President“.)

After a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan – with no dramatic improvement in either society despite the outlay of trillions of U.S. dollars and the loss of thousands of American lives — the American people are just plain weary and adamantly against being dragged, against our will, into yet another war.

~Eowyn

Rubio opposes independent investigation of Benghazi

Are they all corrupt and rotten?

The GOP’s shining prince, Marco Rubio of Florida, who was elected to the U.S. Senate only two years ago, says he opposes an independent investigation into the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which took the lives of four Americans, including that of Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Javier Manjarres reports for Florida’s The Shark Tank, Nov. 26, 2012, that Rubio was the headliner at a rally for Israel held at a South Florida Jewish Community School last weekend, where he reiterated his support for America’s closest ally in the Middle East and took a few questions from the media as he exited the event.

Rubio expressed his deep concerns about the lack of security measures that the U.S. government was responsible for at its consulate in Benghazi, Libya which led to the murder of four Americans. He said:

“My number one concern about the Benghazi situation is that knowing it was a very dangerous place that was growing even more dangerous, the United States did not supply sufficient security for that consulate in Benghazi, and as a result, four brave Americans lost their lives.  We need to make sure how that happened, so that it never happens again.”

When asked whether an independent investigation was warranted to get to the bottom of what really happened both in the run up to the attack on the consulate and its aftermath, Rubio maintained that an independent investigation was not necessary.

Rubio, who sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and is privy to intelligence briefings, insisted that Congress was more than capable of conducting an investigation into the matter:

“I don’t think it has to be independent (investigation) the bottom line is that, the Congress is fully capable, I am on the intelligence committee, I am on the Foreign Relations committee in the Senate, I think that those committees are fully capable of investigating why there was not sufficient security provided to the personnel in Benghazi, and how that could’ve been prevented.”

One thing you’ve got to admit is that Rubio sure is a fast learner. In two years, he has already learned to become a consummate member of the politics-as-usual old boys’ network.

H/t FOTM’s Tina.

~Eowyn