Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Habeus Corpus and No Deployment-Length Rest Time for Troops

The bills to restore habeus corpus and Sen. Webb's amendment to give U.S. troops time at home equal to the length of their deployments both failed to pass. The habeus corpus legislation didn't even come to a vote. Cloture failed by four votes.

Greg Sargent has a video of Jim Webb responding to John McCain's moronic claim that it's unconstitutional for Congress to legislate troop deployment times:

Yesterday Senator John McCain attacked Jim Webb's troop rest plan, saying that the measure is "unconstitutional," saying: "Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that the Congress decides how long people will spend on tours of duty and how long they will spend back in the United States?"

This morning, Webb responded to McCain on CNN. ...

Webb said:
Well, first of all, Sen. McCain, who I’ve known for 30 years, needs to read the Constitution. There is a provision in Article I, Section 8, which clearly gives the Congress the authority to make rules with respect to the ground and naval forces. There’s precedent for this.

Here is the relevant language from Article 1, Section 8:
[The Congress shall have Power] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Apparently, McCain and Rep. Mel Martinez are playing a game of "Can you top this?" and I think Martinez won. He announced on the House floor today that making rest periods between deployments the same length of time as the deployments is "demeaning" to the troops:
"The reenlistment rates of those who have served in the theater are larger than those of any other. And, in fact, it is a testament to their courage, to their valor, and their sense of duty to their country. I think we would demean their service if we were to say to them that there had to be a parity between the time in service out of the country and the time at home. The goal ought to be for us not to have 15-month deployments. The hope would be that these would never be necessary. But the mandate from congress that this is how we must operate our armed forces I think is ill-conceived, it is dangerous and does not serve either the national interest of our nation nor the interest of the soldiers on the field whom it is intended to serve.

"We should not have a subterfuge of policy to change direction in Iraq heaped on the back of our brave young men and women in uniform..."

The argument here appears to be that because the amount of service our troops have performed shows that they are heroic, it would hence "demean" them to reduce that amount of service by giving them longer rest time -- because it would deprive them of more time to be heroic.

What's more, the argument also appears to be that this would be a disservice to the troops because it would be "heaping on their backs" the fact that it changed our Iraq policies. In other words, the fact that the troops would get more rest should be something to be ashamed of if it resulted in a change of said policies. One might suggest that if our Iraq policies had to be changed in order to not burn out the troops, the blame for this should perhaps fall on those who made those policies.
In a final irony, Martinez, after opposing the Webb amendment, voted in favor of the sham non-binding GOP alternative.

Just to savor this for a moment, consider that Martinez said above that it would "demean" the service of the troops to support Webb's measure, because we mustn't "say to them that there had to be a parity between the time in service out of the country and the time at home." But apparently it's okay to say this to them via the measure put forth by the GOP, as long as we're not voting for something that would actually make this happen.

Here is a fuller description of the meaningless Senate "alternative" bill, which was proposed (of course) by John McCain:
Speaking on the Senate floor this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), an ardent opponent of a pro-troop measure to relieve the stress on the overstretched armed forces, announced he will propose a toothless, watered-down substitute to the Webb amendment.

McCain said he and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) have teamed up to put together a “sense of the Senate” amendment to express “very clearly that we all want all our troops home and we understand the stress and strain that’s been inflicted on the men and women in the military and the guard and reserves.”

McCain’s rhetoric belies his intentions — to kill the Webb amendment. Webb’s bill would force the Bush administration to provide active duty troops at least the same time at home as the length of their previous tour of duty overseas. After learning of the McCain-Warner proposal, Webb immediately rejected it, stating that the troops don’t need the “sense of the Congress” but rather “the will of the Congress”:

I have just learned from Sen. McCain’s comments that Sen. Warner will be offering a side-by-side amendment that goes to the sense of the Congress rather than the will of the Congress. And I would like to state emphatically at the outset that this is a situation that calls for the will of the Congress.

No comments: