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Harman vs. Winograd, Tough Choice?

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By David Swanson

For the past 10 months I've worked on a project at www.afterdowningstreet.org to urge Congress Members to hold the Bush Administration accountable for crimes and abuses of power. Some Democratic members of Congress have been as helpful in this effort as Fox News. Some have been less. In that last category you can list Jane Harman.

When Congressman John Conyers wrote a letter to Bush asking him to explain the Downing Street Memo, and 120 Congress Members signed it, Harman didn't. When Barbara Lee introduced a Resolution of Inquiry into the Downing Street Memo, and over 100 Members co-sponsored it, Harman didn't. Kucinich's Resolution of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group? No Jane. Holt's inquiry into the Plame leak? Uh-uh. Barbara Lee's commission on pre-war intelligence? Not Harman. Lee's commission to monitor the treatment of prisoners in US custody? Jane was elsewhere.

Of course there have been a lot of other bills related to the war. Harman must have supported something, right? Well, Hastings' resolution to give inspectors more time before pulling them out and bombing the country must have slipped behind Harman's desk by mistake before she could sign on. It might have landed there on Harman's membership forms for the Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus; she's in neither. McGovern's bill to cut off funding for the war is mysteriously missing Harman's signature too. Even Murtha's proposal to redeploy must have been accidentally overlooked by Harman's staff.

There is a bill to end the war eventually some day (HR 55), but Harman apparently finds that too radical. And, oddly, Honda's Student Privacy Act to allow high schools not to give names and contact info of students to military recruiters unless their parents approve has been deemed unacceptable by Representative Harman. That title ("Representative") begins to achieve a strange ring. Whom is she representing?

What about HCR 35, Woolsey's plan for withdrawal? Jane's not behind it. Allen's bill requiring no permanent bases in Iraq? Not for Jane. The Price/Miller bill for withdrawal? Not up Harman's alley. And Allen's bill to assure adequate funding for VA health care? Jane has other priorities.

Of course, when Congresswoman Woolsey put forth an amendment requiring the President to simply have an exit plan, any exit plan, Harman must have joined the rush to support that? Well, no.

Harman appears to have signed onto only two bills that challenge the war in any way. One is Barbara Lee's bill requiring no permanent bases. The other is Skelton's nonsensical request that the President devise a way to measure "success" in Iraq.

Lee has another bill, disavowing the doctrine of preemption. Harman's not ready for that one. And Lee's demands for information on secret prisons in Europe and warantless surveillance? Uh, no, just not Harman's thing. Give her a break already!

Congressman John Conyers has introduced two bills to censure Bush and Cheney, and a bill (H Res 635) to create an investigation into grounds for impeachment. Harman is 0 for 3 on those.

And money for the war? Harman voted for it in 2003, against it in 2004, and for it again in 2005. What'll she do this week, with another mountain of cash on the table? There's reason to hope she'll vote no. But that reason is Marcy Winograd, who is challenging Harman in a June 6th Democratic Primary in California's 36th District (Los Angeles).

Marcy comes out swinging on her website http://www.winogradforcongress.com with these words at the top:

"Marcy Winograd, President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, thinks it's time a real Democrat challenged 36th District Congresswoman Jane Harman, a supporter of the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, new nuclear weapons development, secret detentions and the suspension of due process, and illegal government wiretapping of private American citizens. Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, remained silent for over a year after being briefed on the Bush administration's violation of federal wiretapping law (FISA) and recently told 'Meet the Press' that she deplores the New York Times for informing the American people that the Bush Administration ignored the law."

Who is this Marcy Winograd?

"As a long-time opponent of the Iraq war and occupation, Winograd was instrumental in getting an anti-war resolution passed at last year's California Democratic Convention and worked with Assemblyman Paul Koretz to draft a resolution calling for a moratorium on depleted uranium weapons systems. Playing a leadership role to protect our vote, Winograd helped establish the California Election Protection network, a grassroots organization that successfully lobbied for State Senator Debra Bowen's bill requiring a paper trail for electronic voting recounts. In her position as Media Reform Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, Winograd hosts 'They Say/We Say' -- a public access television show which highlights the plight of returning veterans and underscores the importance of citizen activism."

And what would Marcy do if we send her to Congress?

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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