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Senate passes mammoth 648 billion defense bill

Senate passes mammoth 648 billion defense bill

AFP
October 2, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The US Senate Monday passed a mammoth 648 billion dollar defense policy bill, shorn of attempts by disappointed anti-war Democrats to dictate President George W. Bush’s Iraq strategy.

The bill included around 128 billion dollars for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate.

The legislation passed by 92 votes to three after Democrats lost several attempts to dictate US troop levels in Iraq.

While the Department of Defense Authorization bill for fiscal year 2008 sets the size of programs, funds can only be disbursed after the passage of a Senate defense spending bill due to be taken up by the chamber this week.

The most significant Iraq related portion of the bill was an amendment backed by Democratic Senator Joseph Biden which passed last week, calling for a federalization of Iraq, with large amounts of power ceded to the provinces.

The amendment was however non-binding and will not force Bush to change strategy in the unpopular war.

Democrats failed by only four votes to include an amendment which would require troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan to be granted as much time at home as they spent on combat deployments.

The bill would have effectively limited the number of troops available for deployment, and cut the size of the 160,000 strong US force in Iraq more quickly than the gradual reductions which Bush has promised.

The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the Defense authorization.

Senate approves $150B in war funding
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071001/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

The Mega-Lie Called the “War on Terror”: A Masterpiece of Propaganda
http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/63632/?page=entire

Torture Rape In Iraqi Child Prisons
http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2007-09-30%5Ckurd.htm

 



NY Sun: ’Attack On Iran Said To Be Imminent’

Right-Wing New York Sun Declares: ‘Attack On Iran Said To Be Imminent’

Think Progress
September 28, 2007

The New York Sun, a reliable neoconservative outlet that has advocated for a Dick Cheney presidential campaign, declares today: “Attack on Iran Said To Be Imminent.” The article’s lead states:

In a sign that U.N. Security Council-based diplomacy is losing steam, a number of sources are reporting that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities may be imminent. France and America also are pushing for tighter economic sanctions against Tehran, without U.N. approval.

Yesterday’s edition of Le Canard Enchaîné, a French weekly known for its investigative journalism, reported details of an alleged Israeli-American plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The frontpage headline read: “A report sent to the Elysée — Putin tells Tehran: They’re going to bomb you!”

Ironically, the right-wing clamor for war is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here’s why:

– The success of the right-wing’s push for military action hinges on establishing that the U.N. Security Council can’t stop Iran’s nuclear program. As the Sun notes, the U.S. and French are already considering an effort to proceed “without U.N. approval,” in essence forming a “coalition of the willing” that ignores the U.N. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

– Russia and China, both members of the permanent five, have rebuffed efforts to increase sanctions on Iran, fearing that they “will be exploited to support a U.S. policy of regime change or military action.”

– That fear, precipitated by right-wing rhetoric, then inhibits the U.N.’s ability to agree on sanctions that could be used “to increase the pressure on Tehran to comply with the Security Council’s demand to suspend uranium enrichment.” The failure to instill a new sanctions regime then allows the administration to push for confrontation.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said this week: “Definitely what we are seeing is a confrontation in the making.”

And if the Bush administration can’t establish the need to go to war based on the threat of a nuclear Iran, it appears appears ready to claim that Iran’s cross-border activity in Iraq may justify military action. On that front, Congress — not wanting to appear weak — is facilitating the administration’s case.

Glenn Greenwald writes the “virtual refusal of senior military officials to permit a war with Iran” may be all that stands in the Bush administration’s way.

UPDATE: The AP writes today, “In a setback for the United States, Iran won a two-month reprieve from new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program on Friday. The Bush administration and its European allies ceded to Russian and Chinese demands to give Tehran more time to address international concerns. … The decision marks another blow for Washington in its diplomatic struggle to toughen existing U.N. sanctions on Iran.”

 

‘Combat Outpost Shocker:’ The base that could spark Iran conflict

Raw Story
September 28 2007

The US military is building a base in Iraq just five miles from the border with Iran to prevent cross-border arms smuggling. The base, called “Combat Outpost Shocker,” will be manned by 200 soldiers, along with agents from the US Border Patrol, and will monitor truck traffic and cellphone conversations among Shi’ite pilgrims.

“Obviously, [the Iranians] probably won’t be very happy about it,” Col. Mark Mueller, the commander of the border transition team, told ABC News.

Border security has been essentially ignored since the US invasion of Iraq, but the establishment of the base at this time is also seen as targeting what the US claims are Iranian attempts to smuggle advanced arms to Iraqi insurgents. The Associated Press, however, concludes that it is likely to be a drop in the bucket when dealing with a 900-mile long border where smuggling is a centuries-old way of life.

In a telephone conversation with RAW STORY earlier this month, Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at New America Foundation and publisher of The Washington Note said his gravest concern surrounding Iran was that the US might seize on an accidental incident — such as a collision between a US and Iranian ship or a border skirmish between Iraq and Iran — as a casus belli.

“A mistake in the Gulf where ships collide or US soldiers are attacked or Israel fires a low-level cruise missile attack against Natanz or there’s a border skirmish between Iraq and Iran that results in the death of a high-ranking military or diplomatic official – any of these could spark a conflict,” he said.

He also says Bush has deviated from a Cheney-laid track to launch a first-strike on Iran, citing, as examples, frustrations that the vice president’s aides are airing, a conversation with a journalist who sat in on a December 2006 strategy meeting, and private conversations with high-level foreign policy players.

The following video is from ABC’s World News, broadcast on September 25.

Watch Video

Related News:

Debunking the Neocons’ Iran War Measure
http://www.alternet.o….ernet.org/audits/63740/?page=entire

Fox Pushes Attacking Iran While its “Business News” Anchor Lies About a Surge in Oil Prices Due to That Very Fear
http://www.newshounds.us/2007/09/27/….at_very_fear.php

BREAKING: Lieberman-Kyl’s Iran amendment passes
http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Find-Freedom.htm?At=024323&From=News

Durbin: Lieberman-Kyl Amendment Is ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Puts Us On Record’ In Support Of Iran War
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/25/durbin-lieb-kyl-amdt/

CFR’s Hart Suggests False Flag Event For Iran War
http://infowars.net/articles/september2007/270907Hart.htm

Clinton supports Israeli ‘strike’ on Syria
http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Com….iew/1,2506,L-3453963,00.html

Military Opens Camp on Iranian Border
http://www.abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=3649942

Newt Gingrich: Bush Should Blow Up Iran’s Natural Gas Insfrastructure
http://www.newshounds.us/2007/09/…ral_gas_insfrastructure.php

Ex-Cheney Adviser Denies Trying To Stir War With Iran
http://www.nysun.com/article/63477

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BREAKING: Lieberman-Kyl’s Iran amendment passes

BREAKING: Lieberman-Kyl’s Iran amendment passes

Freedom’s Pheonix
September 27, 2007

By a vote of 76-22, the Senate passed the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, which threatens to “combat, contain and [stop]” Iran via “military instruments.” Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) called the amendment “Cheney’s fondest pipe dream” and said it could “read as a backdoor method of gaining Congressional validation for military action.”

UPDATE Before the vote today, changes were made to the original amendment, with paragraphs three and four taken out completely. This paragraph was also added at the end:

“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on September 16, 2007 that “I think that the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge, through diplomatic and economic means is by the preferable approach. That the one we are using. We always say all options are on the table, but clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one that we are pursuing.”

Read the full marked up amendment here.

UPDATE II: The roll call for the vote is here. The following senators voted against the amendment:

Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Dodd (D-CT)
Feingold (D-WI)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Sanders (I-VT)
Tester (D-MT)
Webb (D-VA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL) didn’t vote.

Durbin: Lieberman-Kyl Amendment Is ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Puts Us On Record’ In Support Of Iran War
http://thinkprogress.org/2007/09/25/durbin-lieb-kyl-amdt/

 



Hate Bill Passes – Senate Stabs First Amendment

Hate Bill Passes – Senate Stabs First Amendment

Rev. Ted Pike
September 27, 2007

By a vote of 60 to 39 this morning, Sens. Kennedy and Smith’s hate crimes amendment was attached to the defense authorization act. After three days of virtual silence, several Republican senators spoke against the bill within the two hours of debate. Sen. Lindsey Graham briefly argued that, if passed, the President will veto the hate bill and arms bill together, jeopardizing timely support of our troops. Sen. Jeff Sessions contended that states are adequately dealing with hate crimes and that Kennedy’s amendment burdens the defense authorization bill. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, arriving after the debate, was allowed to very briefly state that a hate bill was irrelevant to an arms bill.

The real hero of the day was Sen. Orrin Hatch. Yesterday he stood alone among Republicans to publicly oppose the hate bill. But today he spoke three times with powerful, logical, legal, and constitutional reasons why the hate bill is redundant to state law enforcement, which adequately deals with all kinds of violent crime. He said that gender identity, as put forth in this legislation, is unclear. Its definition depends on the subjective perceptions of both the hate criminal and the victim. He offered his own amendment (which was later passed unanimously) calling for the federal government to authorize studies to determine if states are adequately enforcing hate crimes laws.

Remarkably, Sen. Byrd of West Virginia , habitual supporter of the hate bill, voted against it. If only one more pro-hate bill Senator, Democrat or Republican, had been persuaded, either by massive calling during the last week or by impassioned attack of the hate bill on the floor of the Senate, the hate bill would have been destroyed in this Congress. It would have to be resubmitted in the next Congress under the stigma of having been rejected six times. Yes, the President has promised to veto today’s hate bill victory. But at the same time, the hate bill, through passage now by both House and Senate, is energized and dignified as never before to be easily ratified in the next Congress, little more than a year from now.

Credit for hate bill victory must largely go to the repeated impassioned speeches by Sens. Kennedy and Smith, but leaders of the religious right and Republican senators are, by default, just as responsible. Since the defense appropriations act was introduced 16 days ago, opening the possibility of hate bill attachment, there has been an astonishing lack of consistent warning from leaders of the religious right. This has grown even more acute since Monday, with a virtual blackout of warning from all new right websites (See, Do New Right Leaders Want Hate Bill Passed? and Hate Bill Ready for a Vote). As a result, the millions of calls which might have been generated amounted to a relative trickle. Only at the last minute, yesterday, when it became virtually impossible to influence today’s Senate vote, did new right leaders send out calls to action.

Such dereliction of duty was reflected on the floor of the Senate this week by the silence of Senators well known to oppose hate laws. Day after day they ignored invitations to speak to the Senate against the hate bill.

Both new right leaders and Republican senators represent themselves as watchmen on the wall, guardians of our freedom. Yet God told the prophet Ezekiel that if, as such a watchman, he knew the enemy was coming and yet did not sound the alarm, he would lose his eternal soul (Ez. 33)

For the past several weeks, both Christian and Republican leaders have seen the enemy coming. Yet they did not sound the alarm in a timely and effective way. For this they will have to answer to their Creator. Meanwhile, all Americans now are very, very much closer to having to answer to the federal “thought police” for every idle word that is not politically correct.

 



Lieberman-Kyl Amendment ‘Puts Us On Record’ In Support Of Iran War

ACTION ALERT:
Call Your Senators and Tell Them to Oppose the Lieberman-Kyl amendment

(800) 862-5530
(800) 833-6354
(866) 340-9281
(866) 220-0044
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt

Durbin: Lieberman-Kyl Amendment Is ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Puts Us On Record’ In Support Of Iran War

Think Progress
September 26, 2007

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) spoke forcefully this afternoon on the Senate floor against the Lieberman-Kyl amendment. Durbin described the “sense of the Senate” legislation as a “dangerous effort to put us on the record for the use of military force in Iran.”

Noting that the language of the amendment suggests the use of “military instruments,” Durbin said:

What does that mean? Does that mean we are supporting the invasion of Iran? That we are supporting military tactics against Iran? Shouldn’t we be extra careful in the language of these resolutions when we find that the authorization for force for Iraq has dragged us into a war now in its fifth year, a war longer than World War II with bloody and deadly consequences for the United States and innocent Iraqis.

“I think it is dangerous language,” Durbin said, concluding his statement by saying he will oppose the amendment as it is currently written.

Watch Video

Due to early concerns raised by Sen. Jim Webb, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this afternoon that the language of the Lieberman-Kyl amendment was being modified. The Senate then released new language, but as Carah Ong notes, the modifications did little to ease fears:

The new language allows for the use of U.S. military instruments inside of Iraq for dealing with Iran, but it still does not contain a measure to prevent a conflict from spilling beyond Iraq’s borders.

Due to the still outstanding concerns raised over the amendment, Reid announced this evening on the Senate floor that Lieberman-Kyl bill “will not have a vote in the near future.” Reid added that negotiations are ongoing and “maybe the night will be bring more clearness to the issue. But right now I think it’s fair to say there will be no votes tonight.”