This morning (April 17th) , Liz Hurican and I went to observe and participate in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing "on whether the Army and Marine Corps are properly sized, organized, and equipped to respond to the most likely missions over the next two decades while retaining adequate capability to respond to all contingencies along the spectrum of combat".
We were planning on going to the Senate Judiciary committee hearing where Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was to testify in regard to the dismissal of U.S. attorneys which has been alleged to be politically motivated. However, last night we discovered that the hearing had been postponed until Thursday. I'll keep you posted on any new developements regarding the subpoena of Gonzales to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee.
So, in lieu of being able to pester Gonzales, liz and I went to the hearing regarding longterm readiness of the Army and Marines where retired General Barry McCaffery and others would be testifying. The chaiman of the committe holding this hearing is Senator Carl Levin. Liz's Senator McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the committee, was not present; however, my newly elected Senator, Claire McCaskill was there for most of the session.
As the hearing started, we were standing in the back with messages on our shirts... my shirt read "NO $$$ 4 WAR." In front of us sat about 20 midshipmen from the Naval Academy; There wasn't alot of press there, but the few cameras that were present snapped photos and shot video of us standing behind the students who were wearing their dress uniforms. Senator Levin read his opening statment, and made it clear that his feeling was that our military has been made weaker by the war in Iraq; he read off a long list of problems regarding America's current "volunteer" military force including misuse of "stop loss" and the continual lowering of requirements for enlistment. While he was speaking, Liz and I held up pink signs that had various messages on them including, "STOP FUNDING WAR", "FUND SCHOOLS NOT WAR", and "GOT A PEACE PLAN?"
The witnesses testified that U.S. Military strenth is so poor that they could not foresee America being able to maintain it's current mission in Iraq. General McCaffrey testified that "the war in Iraq is going badly" and then added, "However, the purpose of this testimony is not to talk about ongoing tactical operations, but instead the disastrous state of America's ground combat forces." He then went over a long list of problems with the capability and readiness of American troops. Here is a link to his entire http://armed-services.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?wit_id=6281&id=2695
Also testifying were Dr. Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr. , Dr. Lawrence J. Korb , and
Major General Robert H. Scales, Jr., USA (Ret.) - follow the links to read their testimonies.
A couple Capitol Police showed up to keep an eye on us, but they didn't say anything as we stood silently with our signs. Well, we were silent at first... however, Liz borke the silence when she was moved to yell, "Thank you" after General McCaffrey's testimony. Then as Dr. Korb read his prepared statment, Liz said "Shame" after many of the points he made regarding the Pentagon's overall negligence. So, I started saying "shame" and other short statements as well when it seemed appropriate. Levin and the police ignored the first several outbursts.
When the Senators began questioning the witnesses, it got interesting. They were asked "How can we pay for the U.S. military to add personnel.?"Dr. Korb got very specific as he went down a list of military hardware projects that he felt were unecessary and wastful including the B-22 and the F-34. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him add that "the United States should not build anymore nuclear weapons and that in fact we should make a good faith effort to start dismantling the nukes we already have so we could set an example to Iran and others to serve as an example of America's sincerity in stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons. At that point, I yelled "YES!" really loud. then the Dr. Korb went onto say that in order to afford the military needed to truly defend America, the United States would have to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible. I yelled YES" again and Liz yelled "Thank You". I guess that was a little too much noise as Levin grabbed for his gavel; he didn't bang it but is was clear he was nearing the end of his patience. So, after Dr. Korb finished, the chairman said, "I would like to pause for a moment to ask the people standing in the back to remain silent. We have been tolerating your signs this whole time, but if you make any further outbursts I will have you removed from the room. So, we just stood there with our signs for the remainder of the hearing.
On the way out of the hearing room I ran into Claire McCaskill who is the junior Senator from my home state of Missouri. She said "hi Midge", so I took that oppurtuniy to once again ask her to do all she could to end the war in Iraq." Then, I came back to the CODEPINK house satisfied.
Well, that's just a little taste of the excitment you will be a part of if you come to DC. See ya soon!
Peace & Freedom,