11:31 Woolsey said she knows Bush will veto any bill that ends the occupation. She asks Polk if Congress should only pass what it knows is right, even knowing it will be vetoed. For the first time all day the room breaks out into applause, loud applause. Polk replied "There's your answer." But then Woolsey characterized her proposal as trying to do something they can't actually make happen, failing to grasp that if Congress refuses to pass any bill to continue the occupation, Bush has to end it. [Congress will end the occupation, if it ends it, with an announcement of no more bills, not with a bill.]
11:29 Woolsey is back. Only she and Lee are here now. She says she was in a hearing where Ambassador Holbrook was sounding a very similar theme to Polk.
11:26 Polk says the Iraqis, including the Kurds and the Shia have a will to hold together as one nation.
11:22 Ellison asked about a regional peace conference. Polk said it should be organized by an independent body, not the US, and would depend on the US first giving assurance that it intends to leave.
11:12 Cohen says a police trainer from Tennessee who has been in Iraq says that the Iraqi security dept has different sectarian groups on different floors of a building, and security personnel are afraid to go to other floors or ride the elevator. He also asks about how to keep Iran from getting nukes. Polk recommends a hearing on Iran "like this one" right away, apparently not noticing that there is no media here except me and C-Span. Polk says Iranians are terrified of the United States.
11:09 We're back to Cohen. He and Lee and Ellison are only Members remaining. Cohen asks if a democracy can be created in Iraq. Polk says it was very difficult here in the US, and that it will always be difficult, and is impossible for one nation to impose on another. Says he used to live in Baghdad and found it relatively harmonious and happy but was not what Americans would have liked. But Polk thinks his and McGovern's plan would create a satisfactory level of public participation.
11:00 Rep Jackson-Lee speaking. Polk speaking of damage to troops, including "degredation of their spirit" by the cruel sadistic acts they engage in. Also stresses need to educate the public to avoid another war - namely in Iran. Again, he asks Congress Members to educate the public, [although 73% of public wants out of Iraq. If Congress Members would only LISTEN to the public we'd be better off than with them trying to talk to us IMHO.]
10:55 Rep Lee asks about list of actions to convince Iraqis we intend to leave, including stoping base construction and stopping efforts to sieze oil. She introduced a bill that said this - got it into legislation 6 times. The President has signed into law bills that include these provisions 3 times. Does the public know this? And how can we hold the administration accountable? Polk says the public does not know. Polk suggests subpoenaing people, as if numerous subpoenas have not already been refused! Polk pretends we don't already know bases are being built and an oil-theft law being pushed. Lee replies that his suggestion is an important one and she will present it to the chairs of the appropriate committees. [Yep, that oughta do it. Sheesh. Lee is well aware subpoenas are not being respected with impeachment having been taken off the table. I wish General Odom were here, because he would have spoken up for impeachment.]
10:53: Ellison asks if there's calm in Ramadi and if so if the "surge" gets any credit. Polk says there are always areas of calm and were in Vietnam. And when you put all your forces in one place there's calm until the moment you leave. We paid people to open shops in a market for a photo op. Then everything closed down again right away. Tribesmen will take money to do things. You can rent people, but you can't buy them.
10:46: Ellison asks about impact of Blackwater and whether Iraq can do anything about Blackwater. Also asks about civil suit against CACI and others. Polk replies that Blackwater is mercenaries, which are illegal under international law. Polk said Blackwater and other groups like it have been loose cannons. A law was passed to exempt them all from litigation for what they do. Ellison: exempted from criminal liability too, right? Polk: yes, from all litigation. The Iraq govt., what there is of it, has asked for them to be thrown out of the country. If our puppet govt. is opposed to Bwater, you can imagine what the rest of the country of Iraq think. It'd be very interesting to know how much money Blackwater has provided to its Congressional supporters. If you spend 2 days per week on raising money and 2 more on constituent activities, you have very little time left for anything else. My publisher refused to send every Congress Member a copy of my book even if I paid for it, because nobody would read it. They made me write a 2.5 page summary. They said it was too long. They said 1 page max. because young staffers have the job of informing Congress Members of things.
[None of this sounds like the Rep I know best: Kucinich. Rep Shiela Jackson Lee just walked in.]
10:41 Steve Cohen speaking. Says some members not here because they're busy raising money as always. Then Cohen goes on to claim that Democrats can't do anything without 60 votes in the Senate. [THIS IS NOT TRUE.]
10:36 Polk says that only 30% of public opposed Vietnam war at critical point, a majority now opposes occupation of Iraq, and we're down to 17% who support public. If the figures I cited, the costs of the Iraq war, it's worth your colleagues' time to come here. They did turn out for Petraeus. The cost to the Amnerican economy may be as much as $6 trillion. [He said this again quite clearly]. Polk blames Congress Members fornot showing up today, but also blames media for not covering his and Senator McGovern's book. He also says he recently watched CBS News, that Edward R. Murrow was a good friend of his, and that Murrow would probably be rolling in his grave if he'd seen it.
10:33 Waters says some Democrats claim their constituents want them to back the president, and Republicans don't have the guts to cross the president. [She mispronounces Petraeus but doesn't quite get to "BetrayUs"]. We're at a cross roads. We need to decide whether we're going to break with some of the leadership and act in ways that are going to cause a lot of problems around here, or are we going to keep backsliding and making compromises and sending messages to the American people that we're trying to do something when we're really not. [Tell it, sister!]
10:29: Waters thanking Polk. Hinchey leaving. Waters says that what she and Lee and Woolsey are trying to do is what Polk proposes ("redeploy") [not Polk's word]. Waters says they are also looking into the missing weapons issue, which Polk also raised. The media will nto have us on its Sunday shows, it will not have us on to debate, it will not cover our bills. One TV station told her that liberals are expected to be against the war, so there's no need to cover them. [Waters is dead right to point out that Congress Members can and occasionally do say the right things, but the corporate media won't pass it along.] Waters just thanked the bloggers who are here (AFAIK that'd be me) and blamed "the corporate media."
10:26 Lee introducing Waters. Rep Keith Ellison is also here now.
10:24 Polk lays out 5 key steps as found in his earlier book. Excerpted from below: