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Report on Senator Evan Bayh's meeting with antiwar activists on August 21, 2007

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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-25-07 07:34 PM
Original message
Report on Senator Evan Bayh's meeting with antiwar activists on August 21, 2007
This first hand account came from an e-mail from the Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition. It is a long, but very informative e-mail (such as Bayh's apparent ignorance of House Judiciary Committees Democratic Staff Report setting a prima facie case that the Administration broke at least 7 international and federal laws in taking us to war).

REDACTIONS: I redacted the last names of participants, and other personal information.

Here is the e-mail:

From notes by Nick E****

Senator Evan Bayhs Long Awaited Meeting with Constituents


Peace and anti war groups from Indiana have been actively trying to meet
with our junior senator Democrat Evan Bayh for two years and on August 21,
2007 in Crown Point, IN it finally happened. Northwest Indiana Code Pink
and Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War sponsored the meeting
with the Senator on August 21.

Brief Background

In September of 2005 about 15 peace and anti war activists met with Senator
Lugar on the Monday after the massive Saturday anti war rally. Of course
our Congressman Pete Visclosky has met numerous times with the peace and
anti war community. We had tried to schedule a meeting with Senator Bayh
weeks in advance of this and were told that he would be unavailable, but
that staff would meet with us. After meeting with his staff we requested a
personal meeting whenever he came back to Indiana, at any location. Again
in 2006 activists going to Washington for the huge march tried to
synchronize a meeting while they were in D.C., but to no avail. Again they
asked for a meeting whenever he returned to the state. Locally a group of
about 12 met with local State Director David R**** in his Hammond office
and foreign policy advisor Todd R**** via a conference call. We were
thankful for the meeting, but again asked that the Senator meet with the
Indiana peace and anti war community whenever he returns to the state.
Again no answer and no meeting.

When the President announced his escalation of the war with his surge
policy, Sue E**** of Highland and Nina K**** of Lake Village members
of the new Northwest Indiana Code Pink chapter took it upon themselves to
schedule a meeting. When unable to schedule a meeting, they organized a
demonstration on May 5, 2007 outside the Hammond Federal Building, where the
Senator has a local office. Sue left the protest just before the building
was due to close and went inside the building to the Senators office. Only
one other person was allowed by the Federal marshals and Homeland Security
guarding the building to accompany her inside. She chose a newspaper
reporter. Sue knelt at his locked office door and proceeded to read the
names of the soldiers killed in the Presidents surge.

She was arrested for failing to follow directions. She was later arraigned
in Hammond and a trial was set for the end of August. She could have faced
a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, but the prosecutor did not ask for jail
time. As she was preparing for trial and a possible conviction and loss of
$5,000, the government dropped their case.

During this time between arrest and the coming trial, Sue and Nina scheduled
two separate meetings in Crown Point with Senator Bayh. They were both
cancelled by the Senator. One because he had to stay in Washington to vote
on the Immigration Bill and Im not sure of the other reason for the other
cancellation. Finally the August 21 meeting was agreed on.

The Senators staff was more comfortable with written questions so that was
agreed on. We had planned a rally for 4PM outside the Crown Point
Government Center where the meeting was to take place at 5PM. We had been
told that we could only have 50 people present. The time was changed twice
in the last couple of days. We were instructed to come into the building at
4PM, with only our drivers license and keys. It took several phone calls
for the Senators staff to say it would be OK if we came in armed with a pen
and paper for notes. We were not allowed to bring in wallets, purses or
even a bottle of water. Even with these obstacles an estimated 40-50 brave
souls from around the state came, from Hammond, Munster, Crown Point,
Merrillville, Gary, Dune Acres, Ogden Dunes, Highland, Lake Station, Hobart,
Valparaiso in NW Indiana and Indianapolis, South Bend, Mishawaka West
Lafayette, Frankfort, Goshen, Bloomington and Nashville statewide.

Lake County is the second largest county in the state of Indiana and the
Senator and his staff had the county offices closed hour early at 4PM on
the day of the meeting to either protect the county workers from the peace
advocates or the peace advocates from the county workers or perhaps both
from the Senator and his staff or vice versa.

Normal security at this building is you walk through a metal detector.
Those of us choosing to enter the building early and use the restrooms
experienced this level of security. However, when we all entered the
building for the meeting a little later after the workers had safely
escaped, we first went through another scanning machine, then a guard used a
wand on us, then through the metal detector and then with our drivers
license we were allowed a badge to get access to the meeting room if we were
on a prearranged list of attendees submitted in advance. A 15 year old boy
with his father was denied entry because he did not have a drivers license
and school hadnt started so he didnt have a school ID. Also several
people who arrived after our group entered because they had just gotten off
work were not allowed to enter the building and attend the meeting

In spite of all this security a few people ended up with bottles of water in
the meeting room. These were taken by security when discovered. A humorous
aside, just before the Senator walked into the room an aide put a bottle of
water on the table for him. Several of those assembled who had had their
water confiscated objected and the Senators bottle was removed before he
entered.

The Meeting

Senator Bayh shook hands with those of us in the front row and others who
got up to do so. Ten year old Ashley B**** of Highland, IN whose father is
currently serving his second tour in Iraq asked the first question. Since
the war was over 4 years ago, why are we still in Iraq?

Senator Bayh answered that we should start leaving and told us about his
support for bills calling for us to do that, but that the President hasnt
agreed to go along with any sort of a withdrawal.

Sue E**** of Highland, IN asked the next question. She referred to the
Sunday Op-Ed piece in the NYT The War as We Saw It

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/opinion/19jayamaha.ht...
oref=slogin

authored by seven soldiers currently serving in Iraq and asked for a
comment.

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis
from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their
self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way of regain dignity is
to call us what we arean army of occupationand force our withdrawal.
Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis
take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which
we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as
they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to
highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without
recognizing the incongruities.

Bayhs response focused in large part on the need to extricate ourselves
from Iraq because we were in the midst of a civil war and the Iraqis have
shown no movement toward political reconciliation. He also talked about the
political realities here and the need to get more Republican senators to
come over to join the Democrats in voting to start withdrawing troops. He
thought that in March more Republicans would come over.

At Sues request he graciously agreed to another meeting with us in Lake
Country in six months time.

The format for the event called for written questions to be submitted and
they were then asked by Karen K**** of Munster, IN who tried to combine
the most asked questions and also asked follow up questions. Karen did a
great job. But pinning down an accomplished politician who has served as
Secretary of State, Governor and U.S. Senator is no easy task. In Senator
Bayhs defense, I believe he did try to be candid with us. He just isnt on
the same page as we are.

A personal opinion, after meeting with two U.S. senators and one
congressman, I believe that the great majority of serious peace activists
have much more knowledge than their representatives on the how we got into
Iraq, the lies involved, the loss of civil liberties in the U.S., the Bush
Administrations Unitary Executive policy, possible war with Iran, U.S.
torture of prisoners, Depleted Uranium and the proposed Iraq Oil Law.

I didnt take voluminous notes and I hope I am being fair to the Senator in
this account. In response to several questions from Karen, Senator Bayh
talked about
The case for WMDs turning out to be false even though he believed in
it at the time
Maybe democracy is a bridge too far for Iraq at the present time
Much talk about the Iraqis not reconciling politically
We should begin withdrawal now, but he is not willing to at the
present time stand up to the President who is the Commander in Chief and
stop funding for the occupation
Stopping the funding would deny our troops the new vehicles etc.
which make them safer
Insurgency is app. 2% al Qaeda and foreign fighters. The rest are
Iraqis
Bush has allowed Ossama bin Ladin to dictate our policy by saying
that Iraq is central front in war. Of course Bush has said the same thing
He called for Rumsfelds resignation long ago (app. two years)
He made a big deal out of saying that he may not run for reelection
in 2010 when his term is up. It is no secret that he wants to be Hillarys
running mate in 2008


He mentioned many times the fact that the Iraqis were not doing the
political work necessary for democracy which would allow us to leave. He
did not address the tremendous stress we have placed upon them with the
estimated 1 million dead, 4 million displaced etc.

Audience Gets Involved

Everybody wanted to do it and finally somebody did. After going along with
the format given to us and witnessing the Senators adroit handling of the
questions, one brave man Eric M**** of Frankfort, IN spoke up from the
audience and asked the Senator a direct question.

General Sanchez a couple of months ago said in a speech in San Antonio that
the only way we could even salvage a stalemate in Iraq was with
200,000-300,000 troops for another 10 years. Why is this receiving no
attention?

It was a great question and I must confess I dont remember his answer, but
it was more tap dancing. To the Senators credit he then answered questions
from the audience even though his staff wanted him to go back to the written
ones.

With that precedent set Lori P**** from the Indianapolis area, representing
National Code Pink, asked about impeachment. Again more tap dancing. He
compared it to Clintons impeachment and how it would hurt the party and
turn off this vast middle section of voters.

Finally I could restrain myself no longer and asked about the necessity to
return to the rule of law by impeaching the President and Vice President.
I mentioned the House Judiciary Committees Democratic Staff Report which
stated there is a prima facie case that the Administration broke at least 7
international and federal laws in taking us to war. He seemed unaware of
this report and said something about Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman
Leahy not citing lawbreaking. I told him it was the House Judiciary
Committee. More talk of Clinton and losing the vast center of voters.

I mentioned that impeachment proceedings could be an opportunity for the
President to clear his good name since his approval ratings reflect that the
vast majority of the American People dont believe him. Either he broke the
law or he didnt and both his detractors and supporters are due an
investigation and honest answer. The Senator did remark that clearing his
good name would be a novel way look at impeachment. Then he went back to
Clinton saying that his ratings went up during impeachment.

I wished I had a chance to respond to that. The proper way to approach the
vast middle of voters Bayh kept referring to is through the impeachment
process. It would give the President a chance to clear his good name in
addition to giving the American People the truth. I dont see how that
would turn off this vast middle of voters he kept talking about. Actually
if we were to follow the Senators reasoning that impeachment would hurt the
Democrats and help the Republicans, the Republicans should and would welcome
impeachment hearings.

Northwest Indiana Coalition Against the Iraq War Co-chair Jim S**** asked
if we could expect to hear the Senator speak more publicly against the war.
Bayh remarked that wasnt his style and he didnt want to be seen as a
gasbag senator speaking to an empty room in the Senate. Imagine a U.S.
Senator not wanting to address the issue or our time publicly, because he
might be seen as a gasbag. Just ending the insanity one day earlier than
whenever it finally does end, will probably save the lives of several U.S.
troops and hundreds of Iraqis.

Christina G**** of Bloomington, IN then spoke up and told the Senator that
she wanted to set the record straight that the majority of attacks by Iraqis
were not against each other but against the U.S. occupation troops that have
no business there. It was at this point I think that Bayh addressed
different people having different plans for how many troops to withdraw and
when. He then made the statement that nobody is calling for all our troops
to be withdrawn. We need to protect the embassy and leave troops to deal
with al Qaeda. He mentioned even his friend and colleague Senator Russ
Feingold is not calling for immediate withdrawal of all troops. I think he
has it in his mind that Feingold is the most liberal guy in the country,
perhaps, because he is one of the most liberal guys in the Senate. The
opinion of the vast unwashed majority of U.S. citizens counts for little in
this club.

Helen B**** of Dune Acres, IN then asked again about impeachment saying
that it was cartoonish to compare Clintons impeachment to impeaching Bush
and Cheney. Again more tap dancing and no answer of substance.

The aides had been telling him for some time that the time was up and they
had to get going and that was the last question. Every time we meet with a
senator or representative, its the same story, aides saying he has to go
and usually, as in this case the personage stays for a few more questions
from the commoners. Anyway, I was upset that my written question didnt get
a chance to be asked by Karen and no one thought to ask it when democracy
somewhat took over and we started asking live questions.

Then a brave voice in the audience asked him about the Iraq Oil Law. He was
already moving to the door and he asked Kathy S**** of Merrillville, IN to
walk out with him and he would answer her question on the way out. I
hurried over to hear what I could of his answer and he seemed completely
unaware that the required benchmark law calls for control of 80% of known
Iraq oil fields and 100% of future fields to be given to the international
oil companies for a 12 % royalty fee. I found this answer particularly
unsatisfying since I have sent his office more than 25 articles on the
subject including Dennis Kucinichs hour long speech given on the House
floor with all reference material included.

Local newspaper articles which have absolutely none of the above information
in them.

Here are the links NW IN Times

http://www.nwitimes.com/articles/2007/08/22/news/lake_c...
30ac8625733f000c0937.tx

NWI Post-Tribune

http://www.post-trib.com/news/520023,bayh.article

After the meeting we held a rally on the front steps of the government
building.

Dale K**** led us in song and the following people spoke
Jim S****, NWICAIW co-chair on the Coalitions considerable activities
Lorri C**** on the Coalitions entry in the Valparaiso Popcorn Parade
Kathy L****, Military Families Speak Out, on being a mother of a marine
Timothy B**** on the Declaration of Peace
Sheila R**** on Indiana Peace and Justice Network
Christine G**** on the Iraq War
Nick E**** on the meeting and impeachment
Lori P**** on National Code Pink activities
Tony S**** on the Fall Mobilization

Nick E****
Munster, Indiana
****@sbcglobal.net


Ellyn

***************************************************************************
Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition website:

http://community.michiana.org/justice /


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panader0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-25-07 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
1. Good work! Well-organized, Thanks for your effort.
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Mojorabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-25-07 09:08 PM
Response to Original message
2. Great work!
over and over again I hear the same thing.. that our congressmen are not particularly well informed and I find it disenheartening.
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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-25-07 09:29 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. The Beltway is a great echo chamber
and they are really out of touch, plus they think they know what's best for us. How else can you explain their ignoring the tens of thousands of calls, telegrams, letters, e-mails, and constituent visits in which they were warned about going to war against Iraq.

:eyes:
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