Raul Grijalva

That Makes Over 21 Requests by 31 Members of Congress, Mr. President

Adding the letter that Barbara Lee, as well as a list of all Members of Congress who have, at one time or another, requested the targeted killing memos.

February 2011: Ron Wyden asks the Director of National Intelligence for the legal analysis behind the targeted killing program; the letter references “similar requests to other officials.” (1) 

April 2011: Ron Wyden calls Eric Holder to ask for legal analysis on targeted killing. (2)

May 2011: DOJ responds to Wyden’s request, yet doesn’t answer key questions.

May 18-20, 2011: DOJ (including Office of Legislative Affairs) discusses “draft legal analysis regarding the application of domestic and international law to the use of lethal force in a foreign country against U.S. citizens” (this may be the DOJ response to Ron Wyden).

October 5, 2011: Chuck Grassley sends Eric Holder a letter requesting the OLC memo by October 27, 2011. (3)

November 8, 2011: Pat Leahy complains about past Administration refusal to share targeted killing OLC memo. Administration drafts white paper, but does not share with Congress yet. (4) 

February 8, 2012: Ron Wyden follows up on his earlier requests for information on the targeted killing memo with Eric Holder. (5)

March 7, 2012: Tom Graves (R-GA) asks Robert Mueller whether Eric Holder’s criteria for the targeted killing of Americans applies in the US; Mueller replies he’d have to ask DOJ. Per his office today, DOJ has not yet provided Graves with an answer. (6) 

March 8, 2012: Pat Leahy renews his request for the OLC memo at DOJ appropriations hearing.(7)

June 7, 2012: After Jerry Nadler requests the memo, Eric Holder commits to providing the House Judiciary a briefing–but not the OLC memo–within a month. (8)

June 12, 2012: Pat Leahy renews his request for the OLC memo at DOJ oversight hearing. (9)

June 22, 2012: DOJ provides Intelligence and Judiciary Committees with white paper dated November 8, 2011.

June 27, 2012: In Questions for the Record following a June 7 hearing, Jerry Nadler notes that DOJ has sought dismissal of court challenges to targeted killing by claiming “the appropriate check on executive branch conduct here is the Congress and that information is being shared with Congress to make that check a meaningful one,” but “we have yet to get any response” to “several requests” for the OLC memo authorizing targeted killing. He also renews his request for the briefing Holder had promised. (10)

July 19, 2012: Both Pat Leahy and Chuck Grassley complain about past unanswered requests for OLC memo. (Grassley prepared an amendment as well, but withdrew it in favor of Cornyn’s.) Leahy (but not Grassley) votes to table John Cornyn amendment to require Administration to release the memo.

July 24, 2012: SSCI passes Intelligence Authorization that requires DOJ to make all post-9/11 OLC memos available to the Senate Intelligence Committee, albeit with two big loopholes.

December 4, 2012: Jerry Nadler, John Conyers, and Bobby Scott ask for finalized white paper, all opinions on broader drone program (or at least a briefing), including signature strikes, an update on the drone rule book, and public release of the white paper.

December 19, 2012: Ted Poe and Tredy Gowdy send Eric Holder a letter asking specific questions about targeted killing (not limited to the killing of an American), including “Where is the legal authority for the President (or US intelligence agencies acting under his direction) to target and kill a US citizen abroad?”

January 14, 2013: Wyden writes John Brennan letter in anticipation of his confirmation hearing, renewing his request for targeted killing memos. (11)

January 25, 2013: Rand Paul asks John Brennan if he’ll release past and future OLC memos on targeting Americans. (12)

February 4, 2013: 11 Senators ask for any and all memos authorizing the killing of American citizens, hinting at filibuster of national security nominees. (13)

February 6, 2013: John McCain asks Brennan a number of questions about targeted killing, including whether he would make sure the memos are provided to Congress. (14)

February 7, 2013Pat Leahy and Chuck Grassley ask that SJC be able to get the memos that SSCI had just gotten. (15)

February 7, 2013: In John Brennan’s confirmation hearing, Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden reveal there are still outstanding memos pertaining to killing Americans, and renew their demand for those memos. (16)

February 8, 2013: Poe and Gowdy follow up on their December 19 letter, adding several questions, particularly regarding what “informed, high level” officials make determinations on targeted killing criteria.

February 8, 2013: Bob Goodlatte, Trent Franks, and James Sensenbrenner join their Democratic colleagues to renew the December 4, 2012 request. (17)

February 12, 2013: Rand Paul sends second letter asking not just about white paper standards, but also about how National Security Act, Posse Commitatus, and Insurrection Acts would limit targeting Americans within the US.

February 13, 2013: In statement on targeted killings oversight, DiFi describes writing 3 previous letters to the Administration asking for targeted killing memos. (18, 19, 20)

February 20, 2013: Paul sends third letter, repeating his question about whether the President can have American killed inside the US.

February 27, 2013: At hearing on targeted killing of Americans, HJC Chair Bob Goodlatte — and several other members of the Committee — renews request for OLC memos. (21)

March 11, 2013: Barbara Lee and 7 other progressives ask Obama to release “in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims” about targeted killing, as well as the “architecture” of the drone program generally. (22)

All Members of Congress who have asked about Targeted Killing Memos and/or policies

  1. Ron Wyden
  2. Dianne Feinstein
  3. Saxby Chambliss
  4. Chuck Grassley
  5. Pat Leahy
  6. Tom Graves
  7. Jerry Nadler
  8. John Conyers
  9. Bobby Scott
  10. Ted Poe
  11. Trey Gowdy
  12. Rand Paul
  13. Mark Udall
  14. Dick Durbin
  15. Tom Udall
  16. Jeff Merkley
  17. Mike Lee
  18. Al Franken
  19. Mark Begich
  20. Susan Collins
  21. John McCain
  22. Bob Goodlatte
  23. Trent Franks
  24. James Sensenbrenner
  25. Barbara Lee
  26. Keith Ellison
  27. Raul Grijalva
  28. Donna Edwards
  29. Mike Honda
  30. Rush Holt
  31. James McGovern

Grijalva: We Just Got Thrown Under the Bus

My biggest complain about this statement from Raúl Grijalva is that he doesn’t say who threw Democrats and the people they champion under the bus: President Obama.

That said, his comments about the crossroads facing the Democratic Party are spot on.

This deal trades peoples’ livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it. Progressives have been organizing for months to oppose any scheme that cuts Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, and it now seems clear that even these bedrock pillars of the American success story are on the chopping block. Even if this deal were not as bad as it is, this would be enough for me to fight against its passage.

This deal does not even attempt to strike a balance between more cuts for the working people of America and a fairer contribution from millionaires and corporations. The very wealthy will continue to receive taxpayer handouts, and corporations will keep their expensive federal giveaways. Meanwhile, millions of families unfairly lose more in this deal than they have already lost. I will not be a part of it.

Republicans have succeeded in imposing their vision of a country without real economic hope. Their message has no public appeal, and Democrats have had every opportunity to stand firm in the face of their irrational demands. Progressives have been rallying support for the successful government programs that have meant health and economic security to generations of our people. Today we, and everyone we have worked to speak for and fight for, were thrown under the bus. We have made our bottom line clear for months: a final deal must strike a balance between cuts and revenue, and must not put all the burden on the working people of this country. This deal fails those tests and many more.

The Democratic Party, no less than the Republican Party, is at a very serious crossroads at this moment. For decades Democrats have stood for a capable, meaningful government – a government that works for the people, not just the powerful, and that represents everyone fairly and equally. This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country. We have given much and received nothing in return. The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want. While I believe the country will not reward them for this in the long run, the damage has already been done.

A clean debt ceiling vote was the obvious way out of this, and many House Democrats have been saying so. Had that vote failed, the president should have exercised his Fourteenth Amendment responsibilities and ended this manufactured crisis.

This deal is a cure as bad as the disease. I reject it, and the American people reject it. The only thing left to do now is repair the damage as soon as possible. [my emphasis]

Rahm’s Authorization to Use Military Force

This plan from Rahm has a number of people in a tizzy:

Mr. Emanuel, the chief of staff, said he hoped Congressional Democrats would take up the jobs bill next week. Then, in his view, Congress would move to the president’s plan to impose a fee on banks to help offset losses to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the fund used to bail out banks and automakers.

Lawmakers would next deal with a financial regulatory overhaul, and then pick up where they left off on health care. “All these things start and lead to one place: J-O-B-S,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Jonathan Cohn, Ezra, Gregg, Chris Bowers, and Digby all make very important points about Rahm’s comments. [Update: now The Shrill One piles on.] But I think they may be missing one potential aspect of Rahm’s thinking.

You see, I’ve been waiting for this for a few months.

There are two theories about how to pass difficult legislation. The operative theory with health insurance reform, thus far, had been to do it early in Obama’s term, when he had a lot of poltiical capital. That theory has been overtaken by events.

But think about how Karl Rove preferred to pass difficult legislation. Those bills didn’t have January or February signing dates. They had October signing dates. Take the Military Commissions Act, signed on October 17, 2006, just three weeks before the last mid-term election. Or the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq, signed on October 16, 2002, even less than three weeks before the prior mid-term election.

And with each of these, the timing worked in Rove’s favor. He could and did threaten that IF YOU DON’T PASS THIS BILL YOU WILL BE BRANDED AS A TERRORIST JUST IN TIME FOR ELECTION DAY!!!! And sure enough, people like Debbie Stabenow, who normally would think twice about supporting unconstitutional laws that give torturers a do-over, fell in line and passed the bill.

Rove used the urgency of the upcoming election to push Congress to pass legislation that they would soon regret.

Now, obviously, Rahm won’t be calling Raul Grijalva a terrorist because he doesn’t pass health insurance reform. But the Administration already has been saying that Congress should pass a bill, any bill. The Village punditry already accepts as true that a failure to pass health insurance reform will doom the Democratic party. So you can be sure that if health insurance reform hasn’t passed by September, you’re going to start hearing the Administration predicting sure doom on November 2 for Democrats if they don’t pass the bill BEFORE THE ELECTION OR YOU’LL BE BRANDED A LOSER!!

Continue reading

"MD's Sob Story"

I’m not Raul Grijalva or Jerry Nadler, but I thought I’d try to respond to TPM reader MD’s “sob story” (as MD called it) because the story illustrates the issues at stake in health care reform. Here’s the story.

Like everyone I have a sob-story to tell about health care. After telling it to countless liberals who oppose the Senate’s health-care reform bill, I still haven’t heard a good answer from them about why they can’t support the Senate bill. They usually stop talking, or try to change the subject.Maybe Raul Grijalva or Barney Frank or Anthony Weiner or Jerry Nadler have wrestled with this problem and I haven’t seen it. Have you seen anything from them about this?

My story: My father is dying of Huntington’s disease. Before he dies in 8 to 10 years, he will need anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and drugs that fight dementia and his tremors and convulsions. He’ll need multiple brain scans and physical therapy sessions.

Current medical treatments can’t save him, but they will give him a few more years before the slow death strips him of his memories, personality and control of his body.

There’s a 50 percent chance the same slow motion death awaits me and each of my three siblings. If I ever lose my job I’ll become uninsurable, permanently. My sister already lost her insurance.

That means whatever treatment is developed for Huntington’s will be unavailable to us. There’s simply no way we could afford it. Not only high tech gene therapies or other interventions, but the medications and treatments that exist now that would buy us enough time to see our kids’ graduations or weddings, and would give them hope of not suffering their grandfather’s fate.

There’s a bill that would mean we’d never be rejected for health insurance or have it canceled. Health insurance that could ease our final years, or maybe even save us.

But liberals are refusing to support it. I know there are principles and politics at stake. I know people are tired of being told to shut up and take what’s given to them. But in the end, there a thousands of people with Huntington’s and millions of people with other serious or terminal illnesses who will never benefit from treatment because they are uninsured. Millions more who are otherwise healthy will die premature or unnecessary deaths because basic health care isn’t affordable.

What do liberal leaders say to them? What do those liberals tell people like my dad, a die-hard activist Democrat, a UAW member who worked his way through college to become a teacher?

I’m used to Republicans and conservatives not giving a damn about people like us, or mocking us for asking questions like this. That’s why my father spent so much of his life fighting to keep Democrats in power. But to be abandoned by people my father worked with and supported his entire life? What in the bill is so terrible to justify that?

This isn’t about betrayal, or a slap in the face, or an insult. It isn’t about strategies to keep seats, or grand theories of justice. Democrats in Congress have the chance to cast a single vote that will make the lives of tens of millions of Americans less wrenching, our demises less brutal. That’s what this is about.

I’d like to hear Reps. Grijalva, Frank, Weiner or Nadler tell us why they can’t cast that vote.

Now, to begin with, MD’s entire premise is wrong. To suggest that Grijalva and Nadler are the people preventing a bill from moving forward ignores the fact that, as things stand, even with their votes, the House would be at least one vote short of passage. As I pointed out here, until MD can convince one of the following to vote for a bill, there is zero chance of the Senate bill passing: Bart Stupak, Larry Kissell, Dennis Kucinich, Eric Massa, or any number of Blue Dogs who refused to vote for the bill the first time. MD would do better yelling at the Catholic Bishops, who think it’s more important for Bart Stupak to make choice less accessible to all women than it is to provide lots of poor Catholics health insurance, than he would yelling at Grijalva and Nadler.

And because the bill is at least one vote short, it is going to have to get more populist (to convince Kucinich or Massa to support it) or still more conservative (to get either the anti-choice vote or the Blue Dog vote) before it passes, presumably through reconciliation.

And frankly, it may get better in ways that are very important for MD and his family. Continue reading

Will Obama Even Meet with the Progressives?

In their letter to Obama warning him that progressives won’t vote for a health care bill without the public option, Representatives Woolsey and Grijalva twice mention meeting with the President.

Thank you for continuing to work with Members of Congress to draft a health reform bill that will provide the real health care reform this country needs.

We look forward to meeting with you regarding retaining a robust public option in any final health reform bill and request that that meeting take place as soon as possible.

[snip]

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss the importance of your support for a robust public plan, which we encourage you to reiterate in your address to the Joint Session of Congress on Wednesday. [my emphasis]

I checked with Greg Sargent (who first reported the letter), and he confirms that the Progressive Caucus does not have a meeting scheduled–rather this is a request for a meeting.

Now Rahm has pretty assiduously been blowing off progressives throughout this fight. Will Obama continue to do so? Or will the progressives actually get to meet with the President they got elected?

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @CosFot No, but, jee bus, I can imagine. Bleech!!
2mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV It was very nice of Cuba to take this step. Not many countries will take chance of normalizing relations with a regime notorious for torture
4mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Cuba Libre! A Momentous Shift in Relations https://t.co/kdMQlWuD4t A look at a new day in the Caribbean.
16mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @bungdan Menendez?
25mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @The_Old_Hack That's part of the problem. If rules abt Good and Evil aren't pre-ordained they might have to look in the mirror @WarOnWarOff
56mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel First Obama told Republicans they couldn't torture anymore then he took away their certainty abt who the Evil Empire is. #KenyanKonspiracy
59mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @carolrosenberg They're going to rearrange that whole island before they let you off that beat.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel These people bitching about doing business with a dictator ... they're driving on Saudi oil, no? (Yes, I know fungible...)
1hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @csoghoian Didn't Schmidt say that right before you asked him an uncomfortable question?
2hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel It's so nice that every single Cuba dead-ender has just taken their Iran dead-ender TPs and search and replaced Cuba for Iran. #FourLetters
2hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @matthewstoller Good question. Already seeing Cubans worried about us overrunning their beach but we'd be better to use Cuba for good care.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @MaxBlumenthal: I wonder what implications new #CubaPolicy will have for Assata Shakur, who's listed as a "terrorist" by Obama's FBI htt…
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