Mike Thompson Watch

(March 14, 2007)

Note: this is a press release from Madge Strong

A delegation from CodePink Willits held a phone conference meeting with Congressman Mike Thompson (who called in from
Washington D.C.) at his Fort Bragg office on Monday morning, Mar. 12th. While focused on ending the war, the discussion also included impeachment and other matters. The CodePink members were Melinda Clarke, Jane Futcher, Marcia Pratt, and Madge Strong, all of Willits. Thompson’s Ft. Bragg staff members, Heidi Dickerson and Christine Anderson, were also present.

The main item on CodePink’s agenda was ending the war in Iraq. Thompson immediately informed the delegation of his long-
standing position against the war (he was among those who voted against the 2002 authorization for use of force) and his commitment to getting the troops home “as soon as possible.” He felt we only disagree about how to do that: he bases his strategy on what seems realistic in Washington D.C. politics.

Democratic leaders are currently brokering a proposal that, as a condition on further supplemental funds for the war, would require troop redeployment out of Iraq over nearly two years, until the end of 2008. (Thompson’s own bill sets a deadline of Mar. 31 2008, with certain exceptions possible.) The CodePink group pressed Thompson about his position on alternative legislation or an amendment that would restrict funds to be spent only on safe and speedy troop withdrawal. Thompson said he was supportive in principle, but his vote would depend on how such legislation was drawn. He also was concerned that pushing that approach would be awkward for many Democrats: a vote either way could alienate many constituents, possibly threatening Democrats’ control of Congress in the 2008 election.

The CodePink delegation also expressed doubts about Thompson’s linking troop withdrawals to Iraqis’ meeting certain
benchmarks. Thompson said the Iraqi government needs to step up as we stand down; it would be irresponsible to leave Iraq too quickly and create a “free-for-all”. (His bill, however, would require U.S. withdrawal by the end of March next year regardless.) Ms. Clarke characterized that as an attempt at face-saving, instead of simply admitting we had no business being there in the first place and our military presence inflames rather than quells the violence. Any delay in withdrawing our troops only means more U.S. and Iraqi casualties, she argued.

Thompson suggested that local activists would be more effective by building pressure in nearby congressional districts whose representatives have not been strongly against the war, such as Representatives Doolittle, Lundgren, and Herger. On related matters, Thompson assured the delegation that he will work hard to restore Habeus Corpus (the right not to be held indefinitely without charges) and to stop torture and extraordinary rendition of detainees. The chances for passing such legislation have improved due to recent scandals, he said. The CodePink group also asked Thompson to be vigilant regarding proposals for developing new warheads at Livermore Labs, as well as deploying SDI missiles in Eastern Europe. Such programs would certainly be hypocritical and counter-productive as the U.S. criticizes proliferation by other countries. Thompson is also firmly in favor of requiring paper ballots and other safeguards on election integrity. A final agenda item was the potential for impeaching
President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Thompson indicated that he is in favor of ongoing investigations of alleged wrong-doing by the Administration, but is not ready to discuss impeachment. (He is on the House Military Intelligence and Ways & Means Committees, but not on investigative committees.) Ms. Strong noted that Bush and Cheney have already admitted to several impeachable offenses (for one example violating FISA with warrantless wiretaps) and that impeaching would be the most effective way to restore our Constitution and our credibility abroad.

Before their meeting inside, the CodePink delegation joined a group of about a half-dozen coast residents who stand vigil
outside Thompson’s office every Monday morning. They also festooned the hedge and fence with pink banners. After the conference call, the CodePink group presented a framed quote to pass on to Congressman Thompson. It says on a
bright pink background: “Our house will be a very, very fine house when you bring the troops home.”

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