Activists Meet with Feinstein Staff About Afghanistan

by on May 20, 2011 · 8 comments

in California, Election, Military, San Diego, War and Peace

Local activists encourage Senator Feinstein to support a bill authored by Barbara Boxer that calls for a specific timeline for the end of operations in Afghanistan and to bring U.S. troops home

Yesterday a group of activists in San Diego met with members of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s staff to encourage the Senator’s support for a bill introduced in the United States Senate by her California Senate colleague, Barbara Boxer.

The bill, S.186, titled the “Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011,” backs President Obama’s proposal for the beginning of a phased withdrawal of U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan, and calls for the President to issue a detailed plan for the redeployment of all troops in Afghanistan, including a completion date.  The legislation was introduced in January, 2011.

The meeting was part of a renewed effort in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden to push the President and Congress to more clearly define the mission of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and to issue a clear timetable for the end of operations.  Estimates have the United States spending $6.7 billion per month on operations in Afghanistan, money that critics say could be better spent here at home.

Jack Hamlin, chosen by the organization CREDO to represent the group at the meeting, says that the people of Afghanistan have been unconquerable for thousands of years.  Throughout history they have thwarted invasion after invasion, including the attempt in the1980’s by the Soviet Union.  It is a culture of tribalism, he says, and it has been that way for centuries.  “The culture of change must come from within,” he said.  The Afghan government erected in the wake of the Taliban’s expulsion cannot be forced on the Afghan people, and they will never accept a leadership thrust upon them from outside sources.

“This war is wasting human lives and U.S. resources,” he said.

Activist Andrew Wilson pointed out that the continuous war is costing the United States its credibility throughout the world.

Senator Feinstein is up for reelection in 2012, and standing with Senator Boxer on this initiative “would be a great opportunity to take a stand and earn the support of Progressives in California,” said Amy Sies, who also participated in the meeting.  “It’s an opportunity to use Senator Feinstein’s leadership position to affect the United States’ direction in Afghanistan,” she said.  Senator Feinstein chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Feinstein staffer Katherine Field told the group that currently Senator Feinstein supports the President’s withdrawal plan and the timeline previously laid out by General David Petraeus, which calls for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Jack May 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Thank you, Andy, for covering the meeting. Great work.

As a follow up to my comment about the waste of human lives, please watch the HBO documentary, “Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery.” And if you don’t have HBO impose on someone.

Peace, Jack


avatar Gary Ghirardi May 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

The children banging on the door for the father to stop beating the mother. It will stop after she is dead.


avatar cahlo May 22, 2011 at 6:52 am

whereas boxer doesn’t have a clue in her body on anything, feinstein is a bit smarter (but i wouldn’t vote for neither of them) and may not roll over on this….if the current plan is to get out in a couple of years, why do we need a bill?


avatar RB May 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

You can’t grow government by contracting. We will have troops in Afghanistan twenty years from now. I expect they will follow the Korean model of troops at boarder and taxpayer war waste forever.


avatar Gary Ghirardi May 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

The clear facts on the ground are nearly always missing from these posts. The Unified Combatant Commands are an evolving and recently expanded defense and control strategy that encompasses all land, sea, and space and represents a huge investment by the U.S. Military into the future that is only going to increase in the months and years ahead. These command headquarters, though headquartered on U.S. National Territories, operate advance bases according to their commands. In the case of Afghanistan, the bases are essentially air combat bases running operations under the auspices of USCENTCOM . As the political pressure mounts to remove active U.S. military personnel from these conflict areas, the government already has in place private companies situated to take over many base operational functions and is covertly contracting private mercenary forces working in cooperation with the U.S. Pentagon, and Israeli Intelligence Agencies to deal with the targeted violence against enemy forces. In other words, we are not getting out. What is more, many high level military personnel will remain as advisers to the contracted soldiers, some who will come from poverty like the militarized youth of Colombia.

All these companies and military structures function around a constructed public logic of a perceived threat levied against the United States and its economic interests as terrorism, or applied internally, under the justifications for the need of heightened Homeland Security. We are really covering our political asses with these justifications deployed in a last-ditch 18th century game of pirating world resources for U.S. based Corporate greed. The problem with this “democracy building” is that it has usurped the legitimate grievances of, supposedly, autonomous nations looking to benefit from their own resources and placed any resistance against U.S. Military Imperialism to be now seen as our legitimate and just cause against terrorists. It is a game of semantics and all of our mainstream political vehicles are co opted and have bought into the rhetoric of the security state. This reality speaks clearly of the U.S. political establishment’s intention to dominate the world militarily for the control of resources and political direction of the planet. San Diego’s economy plays a part in this future type of conflict operations with companies such as General Atomic. Those, on the left of center, are silent about this because many know that we might work within the system of private contract militarism and our livelihoods are dependent on our jobs .

Many of these comments in the Rag are meddling around the periphery of foreign policy directives that has been publicly addressed by both Democratic and Republican Administrations certainly since the Reagan Administration. Any troop withdrawal will be largely symbolic as U.S. military operations will go forward in Afghanistan and in all the other base structures worldwide. The act of appealing to Senator Feinstein is futile, as she sits in a position of conflict of interest to representing a citizenry committed to peace by her chairing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Her Chairperson-ship is blatant Democratic Party corruption embedded within the military and security complex.

The claims by the Progressive Democratic Coalition wanting to reassert a change of direction from this kidnapping of the public will against war is largely powerless to overcome the system now more powerful than the civilian governmental offices and chambers. It is a naive expectation, and especially so, when we see the same tendencies within the Progressive Democrats of rallying behind U.N. and U.S. Coalition Military adventures in the name of peace and democracy building to stay in the political game. It is certainly a grave circumstance we are in as citizens who wish a future without the business of war but we don’t extricate ourselves with compliance to proven failed electoral approaches or tunnel vision of the scope of the challenge ahead.

All this being said I can and cannot understand the reluctance of the contributors to the OB Rag to speak to these details more directly. What do we risk in discussing these inconvenient truths? Like many others in the arts and sciences, have we become a post 911 left?


avatar Jack May 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

Y’all might find it interesting to note, after the meeting and the post, the staffers demanded the blog be pulled. The justification was Andy was not mentioned as an attendee by CREDO. I did, however, introduce him to all those present, and his purpose for being there. He took copious notes, had a small digital recorder laying on the table in front of him, but at the end of the meeting, the staffer told him he could not quote anything…they had press people for that.

CREDO contacted me and told me they did not want to harm the relationship with representative, and the blog article would have to be pulled. I politely declined to pass along the information, and suggested it might be a first amendment issue, and I did not believe in cloudy (as opposed to transparent) meetings. I heard nothing back after that.

I have a very dear friend who was a chief administrative aid to Lloyd Benston. He use to refer to the troublesome constituents who would arrange meetings. I am sure that is how we were viewed by Feinstein’s staffer. I know more than likely nothing will come of this meeting. But I will continue to do what I do regardless of the outcome. To do anything is better than to do nothing.

Peace, Jack


avatar Andy Cohen May 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Did I forget to mention that I was there too? Thought that was kinda obvious………(I can certainly add that as an “Update” to the end of the post if necessary.)

Interesting that anyone would complain. Please correct me if I’m wrong, Jack, but you did specifically ask them if you could bring someone from the OB Rag along to cover the meeting? And I was introduced to the staffers as a member of the Rag staff, and they knew I would be writing about the meeting (and they actually knew what the OB Rag was). There really wasn’t much confusion about my role there. And as Jack pointed out, I have it all recorded for posterity’s sake–which I promised to use for my own purposes (making sure I got all my info right and so that I didn’t grossly misquote anyone) and not for public consumption (that’s on the recording, too). I have every intention of holding to that promise.

Honestly I thought the whole thing was fairly benign. Even the “quote” from the Feinstein side was a stock answer unlikely to elicit any kind of controversial reaction. Besides, it has the added bonus value of being the truth–the Senator does support the President’s and Petraeus’ withdrawal plan as laid out over a year ago. Nothing that was said in that little pow-wow was going to change that.

After re-reading the post several times, I’m still not sure what there is to get one’s panties in a wad about…..???


avatar Jack May 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Well Andy…

The truth of it is, I did not clear you with CREDO, I just invited you on my own.

That said, your observations are correct. It was not a surprise, it was not an ambush, and your semi-quote was truly benign.



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