By David Swanson
On Sunday, April 11, 2010, Congressman Bill Delahunt hosted a public forum in Falmouth, Mass., on the question of whether or not he should vote for another $33 billion to escalate war in Afghanistan. Delahunt was honoring a commitment he had made to Cape Codders for Peace and Justice following a sit-in in his office.
Two pro- and two anti-war speakers were scheduled to speak. But Delahunt put out a press release announcing only the two pro-war speakers, and the day before the event disinvited one of the anti-war speakers, Chris Hellman, and communicated that neither of them would be included. After a flurry of Emails and phone calls made clear that this new plan would not be accepted easily, the speakers were re-invited.
Prior to the event, Delahunt said that he would not be announcing his decision that day, but that he would announce it at least 10 days before the vote. He said that he craved the attention that comes from not announcing how you will vote, as if the attention he gets matters more than the lives he funds the taking of. One of Delahunt’s staffers, also chatting prior to the event, said that the Congressman had worried about making his recent announcement of his coming retirement, because he had thought that he would get less attention and the phone would ring less if he were a lame duck, but that happily he gets even more attention now. And you thought our elected officials governed for the greater human good out of selfless devotion?
In Delahunt’s opening remarks (see video), he said that he would be announcing his decision on the war supplemental vote "in the not too distant future and far in advance of the actual vote." Later, during the question and answer session, someone invited the congressman to an event on May 3rd and he said that he would probably have voted by then.
I was the first panelist to speak on Sunday, and I had time to present some short selections of my complete remarks, which the congressman told me he had read:
Next to speak was Chris Hellman, communications liason for the National Priorities Project, who focused on the question of financial costs of the war in Afghanistan:
Thomas Barfield and Joe Wippl were the pro-war speakers, but Wipple — as it turned out — largely opposed the war. Could the congressman not find anyone who was more of a war supporter? Or did he prefer to have Wippl on the panel despite his opposition?
Barfield is Professor of Anthropology, Boston University and President of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies. Here’s his video. He was the most supportive of the war and its escalation. Wippl is Director of the Center for International Relations, Boston University and a former CIA officer. Here’s his video.
Although Delahunt did not announce his decision on spending another $33 billion, his comments at the forum were largely anti-war. At one point he asked the panelists: "Does a counterinsurgency campaign work when you don’t have a local partner that has credibility?" All four panelists replied "No." Here’s video.
Delahunt has said that he wants to obey the President, but at this event insisted that he agreed with my statement that war powers belong in Congress.
A couple of other highlights from the questions and answers include:
And here’s organizer Diane Turco asking Delahunt to commit to voting No:
Can you help give Congressman Delahunt some attention and keep his phone ringing? Ask him to vote No on $33 billion to escalate the war. Call (202) 225-3111.