Thursday, September 18, 2008
My DC House Internship, part I
By Lynn Rooks
So great to finally be here at the PINK house! Started off yesterday with a walk to the Capitol, where Liz, Des, Ann, and I sat in on a hearing by the Committee on the Budget at the House. Joseph Christoff. Director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office, he gave testimony as to the ridiculous nature of our continued tax payer support of the efforts in Iraq. According to the official report, “from 2005 through 2007, Iraq had an estimated cumulative budget surplus of about $29 billion...” the projections indicate that by the end of 2008, the surplus will likely total $67-$79 billion.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, America is now looking at an estimated $410 billion dollar deficit for 2008. This is revolting. To add insult to injury, we are continuing to fund the efforts there with our tax dollars. We are struggling to put gas in our cars to get to work, while contrarily, Iraqis are paying $1.18/gallon for gas right now. Beyond just the unjust economic aspect, our presence in Iraq has never been justified, least of all by Bush's very own benchmarks for success there. As of August 30, 2007, only 3 of 18 of Bush's own standards for success had been achieved.
After thousands of American deaths and approximately 1,267,401 Iraqi deaths of which 87,534 – 95,533 have been civilian deaths, with policies that are failing on every level, more of us need to step up and demand accountability!That's exactly what Liz did, yelling out in the hearing that this stuff doesn't work—that it's an occupation, and those never end well. Her ferocity is simply stunning.
Today was at least equally as inspiring. We attended the Judiciary Committee's (Senate) oversight hearings to examine the FBI. Robert s. Mueller, Director, was testifying. Former trial lawyer, he consistently gave what Ranking Member Sen. Specter referred to as “classic non-answers.” The questions ranged from asking for specifics on Mueller's knowledge about known production sites of anthrax, about the proposed new guidelines for investigative techniques allowed for FBI field agents, about warrantless wiretapping, and about the misuse of exigent letters. Consistently Mueller pronounced ignorance or classified status of documents/answers. Pretty scary that the Director of the FBI can't answer straight questions regarding national security, but pretty cool that we got some good C-Span coverage!
After the hearing we went to the National Archives, had a mini-action (in honor of Constitution Day), and visit our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other proofs of what are supposed to be our rights. Then it was time for me to experience my first weekly pot-luck, PINK style. There were 20 some folks here at the house, and a smattering of great conversation and yummy food.
While it can be a little disheartening witnessing first hand the degree to which corruption runs through our government and the resulting multi-billion dollar taxpayer burden ensuing, it is also absolutely an amazing honor to be able to walk the halls of OUR Congress, speak out on injustice, and know that these bastards are being watched-- by me, and by amazing organizers here in DC.