"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, December 22, 2005


DFLA Urges Congress to Restore Cord Blood Funding

Democrats For Life of America (DFLA) applauded the US House of Representatives today for the passage of HR 2520, the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, in a lopsided 413-0 legislative victory. This vote comes after the Senate passed the same bill on Friday. The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature.

The bill is better known as the "cord-blood bill" that will allow umbilical cords to be used for stem cell research. Umbilical cords are a rich, non-controversial source of stem cells. Currently hospitals throw millions of them away each year because the infrastructure required to properly collect and store them is not available. When signed into law by President Bush, the bill will increase the number of cord blood units and cord blood stem cells available for treating patients and expanding research will greatly increase.

"This bill will help in the ongoing effort to develop quality stem cells for scientific research. This is a great victory for those who want to help cure debilitating diseases," said DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day.

Despite passage of this landmark bill, DFLA noted that Republicans have cut funding for cord blood research from $9.9 million to $4 million in next year's budget bill. DFLA joins with Democratic leadership and asks others in the pro-life community to lobby the Republican House and Senate to restore this critical funding.

"While I applaud the passage of this bill, I can't understand why the Republicans have decided to cut cord blood funding in half when there is clear bi-partisan support for this research," said Day.

Democrats For Life of America was founded in 1999 to mobilize Democrats at the local, state, and national levels. Their primary mission has been to help pro-life Democrats, support pro-life elected officials, promote a pro-life plank in the Democratic Party platform and achieve legislation that fosters respect for human life.

Democrats For Life of America currently has 41 state chapters with plans to expand the group into additional states by the end of the year. In addition to the grassroots support across America, the group has several Members of Congress who are actively promoting the group's mission.


The Best Gift Ever

?But covet earnestly the best gifts.? ? 1 Corinthians 12:31

Last year, I wanted to give the perfect Christmas gift to a special friend?one that would leave a lasting impression. I thought about the hand-dipped chocolates and fancy assortments of nuts that most people enjoy, but I really wanted something unique. As the days before Christmas vanished like melting snow, I could find no answer to my search. Finally, Christmas Eve arrived without my having located that perfect gift. While the evening shadows deepened, bringing Christmas within hours, I sat glancing through my Christmas cards and thinking about the most valued gifts I have received through the years. I smiled as I realized that my most prized gifts didn't come in big boxes with beautiful bows or festive wrappings; they came in envelopes bearing my name.

My heart warmed as I re-read a card from someone special I had encouraged over the past year. In my hand was a gift that didn't need to be wrapped. It was a written feeling that touched me as no wrapped gift had ever done, because it was filled with love. It was then that I realized I had found the perfect gift.

At this blessed time of year we are reminded of the best Gift ever given?God's love in sending His only Son, Jesus, to be our Savior. His Word, the Bible, is a beautiful expression of His love and salvation.

This year if you are still searching for the perfect gift, consider writing a note or card expressing your love and admiration to someone who has been a special help or encouragement to you over the past year. Pray for God's blessing on them, and if they are not a Christian, share with them about Jesus and what He has done for you. If you do this you will have given one of the greatest gifts you can give to another?that of love.

Apostolic Faith Church

Bush's High Crimes

Choosing his words carefully, George W. Bush all but accused critics of his extralegal warrantless wiretaps of giving aid and comfort to Al Qaeda: "It was a shameful act, for someone to disclose this very important program in time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." If so, the ranks of the treasonous now include leaders of the President's own party, and the New York Times's revelations of illegal wiretaps foretell an earthquake. Senator Lindsey Graham, last seen carrying gallons of water for the White House on the status of Guant?namo prisoners, will have nothing of Bush's end run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: "Even in a time of war, you have to follow the process," he said flatly. An infuriated Arlen Specter, Senate Judiciary chairman, whose good will the White House depends on in the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation of Samuel Alito, declared the President's domestic spying "inexcusable...clearly and categorically wrong" and plans hearings.

For the generations who came of age after the mid-1970s, it is worth recalling why warrantless domestic surveillance so shocks the political system. It needs to be repeated that the same arguments cited by Bush--inherent presidential power and national security--sustained the wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr., unleashed illegal CIA domestic spying and generated FBI files on thousands of American dissidents. It needs to be repeated that in 1974, the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon included abuse of presidential power based on warrantless wiretaps and illegal surveillance. It needs to be repeated that a few months later, presidential aides named Cheney and Rumsfeld labored mightily to secure President Ford's veto of the Freedom of Information Act, in an unsuccessful attempt to turn back post-Watergate restrictions on homegrown spying and government secrecy.

Most of all it needs to be repeated that no constitutional clause gives the President "because I said so" authority. The fact that former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo tried to concoct a laughable fig leaf out of Congress's 9/11 use-of-force resolution in no way diminishes the President's culpability. Nor does the evident collusion of a handful of Senate leaders, including minority leader Harry Reid, who was evidently informed at least partly about the spying program.

A belligerent President vowed that warrantless domestic spying will continue, whatever the letter of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the Bill of Rights. Bush also none too subtly threw down the gauntlet to Congress: "An open debate about law would say to the enemy here's what we're going to do." But open debate is the very essence of democracy; without it, there is little to prevent a slide into authoritarianism (indeed, the ACLU has released FBI documents that indicate the bureau has expanded the definition of "domestic terrorism" to include citizens engaged in nonviolent protest and civil disobedience). Congress therefore has a solemn obligation to carry out a full investigation into these grave breaches of our constitutional liberties.

Where will the revelations end? Given Bush's repeated depiction of leakers and critics as aiding the enemy, is it a paranoid fantasy to imagine a secret-wiretap list extending to reporters and government officials? And given the palpable outrage among Republicans as well as Democrats at the President's contempt for basic constitutional law, is it impossible to imagine illegal wiretaps leading to the final undoing of the Bush presidency?


The Emperor's Powers

"The veil of secrecy, however, is being lifted--if only by unauthorized leaks to the media. Every disclosure brings further confirmation of an Administration that thinks it can ignore the rule of law. We must continue to insist that in a democracy, it cannot."

When Congress authorized the President to use all "necessary and appropriate" military force to respond to the 9/11 attackers, little did members know that in George W. Bush's mind they were freeing him to wiretap innocent American citizens without probable cause or a judicial warrant, to hold indefinitely without charge US citizens arrested within US borders and to order torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of suspects.

Had the President forthrightly said this was what he was seeking, Congress would almost certainly have said no. After all, laws on the books forbid all such conduct. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act specifically limits warrantless wiretaps during wartime to the first fifteen days after a declaration of war and makes it a crime to conduct wiretaps except "as authorized by statute." The Non-Detention Act bars preventive detention of citizens except pursuant to statute. And the Convention Against Torture absolutely prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under all circumstances, expressly including wartime.

On December 19 Attorney General Gonzales admitted that the President did not seek to change the law because members of Congress said "that would be difficult if not impossible." So rather than risk rejection, the President simply assumed these powers unilaterally. The only authorizations he sought were the opinions of his yes-men attorneys, who argued that His Eminence's powers of course encompassed all this and more, and that therefore if Congressional statutes were interpreted to the contrary they would be unconstitutional. Bush's favorite lawyer, John Yoo, personally advised that the President had the power to order torture, to spy on Americans without a warrant and even to use military force against terrorists without any Congressional approval.

It has taken time, but Bush is learning the hard way that he acts without Congressional approval at his peril--even with a firmly Republican Congress. The Supreme Court sharply rebuffed his position on enemy combatants in June 2004, and this past fall the President ducked a Supreme Court test of his detention of Jos? Padilla when another loss appeared likely [see Cole, "Post-9/11 Shell Game," December 19].

In December Bush was forced to agree to an amendment offered by Senator John McCain banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in all circumstances. He had initially threatened to veto the measure outright, and then had sought an exemption for foreigners held by the CIA abroad. In the end he had no choice but to sign McCain's version, with only a small concession extending a "superior orders" defense to nonmilitary interrogators who reasonably believe they are following lawful orders.

And now the President faces a firestorm of controversy over a New York Times report that he secretly authorized wiretaps on hundreds of people within the United States, many of them Americans, without judicial or Congressional approval. Congress's anger over the National Security Agency spy program scuttled a bill to extend most of the Patriot Act's sunsetted provisions, and it has prompted bipartisan demands for a full investigation.

The momentum has plainly shifted. And for good reason. Why should we trust an Administration that secretly spies on Americans without judicial or Congressional authorization, disappears suspects into undisclosed "black sites" where they are subjected to waterboarding and other torture, unleashes the Pentagon to spy on antiwar demonstrators and issues tens of thousands of "national security letters" demanding telephone and e-mail information on innocent people without judicial review?

But there are still many battles to fight. Bush, perhaps realizing that his wiretapping orders may well constitute criminal conduct, has come out fighting, blaming those who leaked the story and claiming, without evidence, that the wiretaps saved lives. (The only individual he claims to have netted through the program is Iyman Faris, a truck driver who pleaded guilty to plotting to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with an acetylene torch, a plot that raises more questions about Faris's sanity than about our security.) Congress must demand accountability.

Meanwhile, the victories on the Patriot Act and the torture issue were both tainted. The struggle over the Patriot Act remains distressingly narrow, with no discussion of many of its most troubling provisions [see Cole, "The Missing Patriot Debate," May 30, 2005]. And while Senator McCain's amendment bans cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, another amendment, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham, Carl Levin and Jon Kyl, would sharply limit access to courts for those held at Guant?namo to complain about torture and other mistreatment. Worse still, it would allow the use of coerced testimony in hearings to determine the status and the culpability of those detained there.

The veil of secrecy, however, is being lifted--if only by unauthorized leaks to the media. Every disclosure brings further confirmation of an Administration that thinks it can ignore the rule of law. We must continue to insist that in a democracy, it cannot.

David ColeTue Dec 20, 9:01 PM ET
The Nation