Signing Statements: What Happened To Our Constitution?

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Hey, this January Congress passed a law with a section that said there should be no permanent bases in Iraq and the Iraqis should control the oil. Yes, they tucked this lovely section (1222*) into the defense appropriation bill. Maybe our senators and representatives noticed our “No Blood for Oil” signs.

So how’s this law doing? It’s not doing well, at all. As a matter of fact, it is in tatters, in shreds; it’s a wreck. President Bush signed the bill, but he issued a signing statement saying the “no permanent bases” part doesn’t count. Congress says no permanent bases and the president says no way.

But doesn’t the Constitution of the United States say that Congress writes the laws? If a president starts writing them, isn’t it time to call in the constitutional lawyers?

On January 30 the editors of the “New York Times” wrote about this signing statement attached to the defense appropriation bill:

It’s glaringly obvious why Mr. Bush rejected the fourth provision, which states that none of the money authorized for military purposes may be used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq.

It is more evidence, as if any were needed, that Mr. Bush never intended to end this war, and that he still views it as the prelude to an unceasing American military presence in Iraq.

It is time to send a message to the next president that we the people expect to get our Constitution back. Call your Representative and tell him/her to impeach Dick Cheney and George Bush. Toll free number for Congressional Offices (800) 828-0498.

– Eva-Lee Baird

*Section 1222 of the defense appropriation bill enacted this January: “No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:
“(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.
“(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

P.S. The Granny Peace Brigade joins the Raging Grannies (to sing) and Grandmothers Against the War (to vigil) and we welcome women and men of all ages to work with us for peace. Check the Granny Peace Brigade homepage for a calendar of events.

The Granny Peace Brigade Goes to College

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It’s often asked by peace activist organizations – “Where are the young people? Why aren’t they speaking out for peace and justice?”

Responding to an invitation from Adelphi University Professor Deborah Little, five members of the Granny Peace Brigade traveled to the University and met with students from the Women, Peace and Justice Project seminar. We spoke about issues the GPB is working on and described direct actions to effect change. We hoped presenting the Grannies’ message and activism would serve as a model for college students. We were not disappointed!

Over 100 students from the Sociology and Political Science Departments attended the seminar. Each Granny spoke about an event or issue of current importance and relevance to the students. Molly Klopot spoke of how women activists from several peace groups united in an action which resulted in founding the GPB. Phyllis Cunningham introduced the legislative committees’ action issues, Eva-Lee Baird explained the Phone-A-Thon project and materials. After viewing a video of a phone-a-thon action at Columbus Circle, a student volunteered to call her representative as everyone listened and applauded. Activism 101!

Barbara Harris discussed the prevalence of military recruiters in the schools as well as in targeted neighborhoods, what the GPB is doing to counter the recruiters’ aggressive tactics and misleading promises, what needs to be done, and how college students can get involved in this effort. Nydia Leaf explained the call for abolition of all US military bases on foreign soil, the current situation surrounding the presence of such bases including Guantanamo, and the geo-strategy and economic interests which guide US policy.

Most gratifying to us from the hour spent with the students was their obvious interest in the issues, their receptiveness to our information and respect for our experience, the understanding that each has a responsibility to act, and their desire to learn how to become more active in the peace movement.

One hour for the seminar was far too short, but at the Q and A several students asked questions ranging from personal concerns about patriotism and a family tradition of military service, to media control of information and political actions, to the pervasiveness of violent video games. The final question was straightforward: A student wanted to call Senator Schumer with a message loud and clear – “End the occupation, Bring the troops home now – and I will forgive you for the Mukasey vote.”

Several students remained to share experiences with us such as the young man with years in JROTC and preparation for military service, who finally realized he wanted a different choice for himself –a college education and a path to community service. A young woman wanted to know how her grandmother could get in touch with us.

We all agreed this opportunity to speak with and learn from college students was very fruitful outreach. They have energy, know-how, and an interest in ongoing education for peace. We offered the impetus and example to just do it.

The GPB plans to pursue academic outreach and present similar seminars in order to continue a dialogue with student groups.

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Teach-In to Close Guantanamo and All U.S. Bases on Foreign Soil

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The Granny Peace Brigade Teach-In had an overflow crowd at St. Mark’s Church on Veterans Day November 11, 2007. Organized by the No Bases Committee and moderated by Vinie Burrows, the event was dedicated to the memory of Dave Cline, co-founder of Veterans for Peace, and was held on November 11th – a day designated as Armistice Day to mark the end of World War One and now called Veterans Day (USA) and Remembrance Day Canada).

The Teach-In included an expert panel of speakers who gave impassioned presentations on a variety of related areas: Guantanamo – Lynn Kates from the Center for Constitutional Rights: Germany’s Bases – Elsa Rassbach of American Voices Abroad:Global opposition – Al Marder of the World Peace Council: Impact on civilian life – Regina Birchem, Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom

There is great urgency in informing the U.S. public on the little known topic of military bases overseas as the Pentagon seeks to expand its presence beyond the current 737 bases in 130 countries. Expansion plans include transferring its African Central Command from Germany to Africa, enlarging existing bases in Northern Italy, and establishing anti-missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic – all these despite enormous local opposition. And perhaps, most fearsome, is the stated goal of the U.S. Space Command’s Vision for 2020 seeking total domination “of the space dimension of military operations.”

The Granny Peace Brigade welcomed support for the Teach-In from many sister organizations working to awaken the U.S. public to the costs, globally and domestically, of this military “Baseworld”: American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Workers, Code Pink, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, War Resisters League, and the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Music appropriate to the Veterans Day theme, performed by Joan Wile with additional songs by the NYC Metro Raging Grannies, was well received.

Our next Teach-In will take place in early 2008 on the base structures in Okinawa and other sites. Look for details posted on this website.
 – Nydia Leaf
for the Granny Peace Brigade
There’s a short video of the November 11 Teach-In on the GPB video channel on YouTube.

Committed to the struggle to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren