WHY I JOINED THE GREEN PARTY (PART 459a, subsection II)

First, for background, visit the link below:

H.R. 1540: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Next, read this excerpt from a letter from my U.S. Congressional representative, Mike Quigley (D-IL):

Thank you for writing me to express your concerns about the war authority granted to the President in H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act.  Your views are important to me, and I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may be aware, H.R. 1540 passed the House on May 26, 2011 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.  Section 1034, on which you voiced your concerns, states that:
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad; (2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with those enemies; and (3) the President’s authority pursuant to the Authorization for use of Military Force includes the authority to detain belligerents, until the end of the hostilities.
Under the Constitution, war powers are divided. Congress has the power to declare war and to support the armed forces, while the President is Commander in Chief.  It is generally agreed that the Commander in Chief role gives the President power to repel attacks against the United States and makes him responsible for leading the armed forces.  The War Power Act governs the relationship between Congress and the President concerning traditional war campaigns and places important limitations on the power of the President.
I understand your concerns that Section 1034 of H.R. 1540 gives the President unilateral power to send our country in to war.  However, it is also important to remember that Section 1034 is designed to give the President the authority to continue to dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and those belligerents who are intent on planning acts of terror against our country or harboring those who do.
It is important to ensure that we maintain a proper balance between Congress and the President concerning war powers.  I have been and will continue to be an advocate for a narrow interpretation of the War Powers Act, an instrumental tool in maintaining our Constitutional system of checks and balances. 

If you’ll look at the information provided by OpenCongress, you’ll see that Democratic votes for this Republican-sponsored bill were nearly even, with 95 for and 90 against.  Quigley voted against the bill, and his office still sent out a form letter making excuses for the most egregious section of the bill, that which allegedly justifies the expenditure, and essentially keeps the checkbook open for this colossal waste of taxpayer money.  Here is the offending section:

SEC. 1034. AFFIRMATION OF ARMED CONFLICT WITH AL QAEDA, THE TALIBAN, AND ASSOCIATED FORCES.
 Congress affirms that—(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad; (2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C.1541 note); (3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who—
571•HR 1540 EH (A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or (B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and (4) the President’s authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities.

Tell me where the balance between powers is here.  This is an affirmation of the Bush war powers, where Congress told the White House, ‘look, we don’t need to be bothered with the inane details of who and why you’re kidnapping, torturing, slaughtering.  Just do what you think is best, tell us how much you need, and we’ll sign the check.’

By naming a U.S.-created brand name, not a state, as the primary enemy, and by including a vaguely defined set of unnamed individuals and groups to the list of potential enemies, Congress sets no limits and shows no discretion.  It is difficult to see how defending this section qualifies as advocating ‘a narrow interpretation of the War Powers Act.’  It reads, in context, more like a Democratic congressman placing the party line above his congressional responsibilities.  It smells like a congressman making a safe vote while defending the opposite position with a transparent line of guff, because that keeps his corporate donors happy.  It makes his vote against the bill look like an act of political expediency designed to appeal to a base that won’t ask for anything more than token nods to propriety and blind support for their lesser-of-two-evils President.

It’s professional chickenshit, the kind one can expect from the Democratic Party of 2011, and Mr. Quigley will continue to not get my vote.  I may be one of a few hundred or so in Illinois 5 who will follow this policy, and my sole satisfaction may be the morally justifiable pleasure of (once again) telling the rest of you ‘I fucking told you so’, but I have no illusions of control over this situation, and I’m going to settle for the doing the best I can under the circumstances.  What the rest of you do is not up to me.

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