Now Playing: Stacy Bannerman, Judy Linehand & Sherrie Tilstra
Topic: Local Lobbying
Subject: Letter to Congressman Adam Smith
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 11:30:18 -0800
Dear Congressman Smith:
On behalf of Military Families Speak Out members Judy Linehan, Sherrie Tillstra, and myself, I would like to thank you for meeting with us in your Tacoma offices on the 20th. I understand you've got your work cut out for you with the current administration, and the Republican majorities in both Houses. We're hoping you will utilize your seat on the Armed Services Committee to call for a Hearing and subsequent vote of confidence/no confidence on Donald Rumsfeld. The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal is just one example of his failure of leadership, as you're well aware.
I would also like to remind you of our request that you contact Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and join her in calling for hearings regarding the plan to extend call-ups for Reservists. This administration's poor planning, refusal to listen to military advisors, and lack of consideration for the citizen soldiers has resulted in a gross abuse of power and a contractual breach of the terms under which these weekend warriors were recruited and signed up for e.g. the Stop-loss policy. Furthermore, these soldiers (and their families) are not provided with the same training, treatment, and benefits of regular enlisted, although they are now being deployed at almost the same rates, and often for longer tours-of-duty. In addition to adding your name to the Letter to the President from 16 members of Congress that I shared with you, please consider calling for Washington State's Democratic Governor, Christine Gregoire, to bring the Washington State National Guard home. Now.
I appreciate your concern about creating more bureaucracy, but clearly the State Department is not doing its job, and one of the costs of the invasion of Iraq is the significant damage to this country's reputation and international relations. Furthermore, the Bush administration has demonstrated that it's got no plan whatsoever for 'securing the peace', and it certainly didn't consider non-violent options prior to invading the country and initiating a war that's killed over 1,300 U.S. soldiers and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians. Now, more than ever, it's critical for the future of this nation, and the world, to support the bill to establish a Department of Peace, which will be reintroduced by Dennis Kucinich in the upcoming months.
As discussed, the one-time death 'benefit' of $12,000 is ludicrous, and I will look for you to address that. For bereaved military families and spouses to find themselves homeless, and forced to go to food shelves and welfare offices after their loved one died serving this country is reprehensible and morally abhorrent. Perhaps the gross tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy could be revoked as a way to pay for this and some of the other costs of this war. I am grateful for your efforts to support the troops, but was disappointed by your hesitancy to call for an immediate exit strategy. I will state what you diplomatically skirted around: The situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate; the window of opportunity for the occupation to even vaguely resemble a 'success' hasn't just closed, it's shattered; and the American presence has exponentially increased terrorist activity in that country and elsewhere.
The best way to support our troops is to bring them home from this reckless, ill-conceived war based on lies. Help President Bush to honor his pledge to end world tyranny: get the United States out of Iraq.
Stacy Bannerman, M.S.