(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)


Subject: interview with Barbara Lee + attack on Barbara Lee
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 11:18:46 -0700
From: "Merilene M. Murphy"
To: "peazritr"

concerning the one house vote for NO WAR by Barbara Lee, i received the below from cyber e-drum listkeeper, Kalamu:

folks, yesterday ran an ACTION item on barbara lee's lone vote for peace and sanity rather than cowboy "wanted dead or alive" rhetoric and vengeful violence. As a follow-up here is an interview with congresswoman barbara lee and also an anti-barbara lee commentary. judge for yourselves. if you support her position, please send an email letting her know. she has received death threats and is under constant attack for her principled vote.

barbara lee can be reached at:

a luta continua,




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The FNV Newsletter

written by Davey D

c 2001 All Rights Reserved



Yesterday Monday Sept 17th we had an opportunity to catch up with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and talk to her about her decision to cast the only vote opposing President Bush's War resolution.  Not even her fellow colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus voted with her on this one.  That includes such notable people like Maxine Waters, Charles Rengel, Jesse Jackson Jr., Cynthia McKinney to name a few.

What is this all about?

Is Congresswoman Lee out of step with reality and the rest of the country?  Or is she ahead of her time?  Some people are saying she is unpatriotic for not supporting Bush on this one.  They are angry with her to the point that she now needs police protection.  Others are saying she did the right thing by not only following her conscience, but also bringing to the floor and public discussions, an alternative viewpoint that has been all but locked out of this past week's conversations.  Many are claiming something is wrong with you if you are not advocating war.  Here's what Congresswoman had to say...Let us know what you think.

DAVEY D: They took this vote in Congress about what should be the response to the tragedy this week...and elected to take military action.  In a vote 420 to 1 you were the lone dissenting voice that said no, we should not go to war.

BARBARA LEE: First, our nation is in grieving, we're all mourning, we're angry; there are a range of emotions taking place.  Myself personally, I am also grieving and I believe fully and firmly that the Congress of the United States is the only legislative body that can say, "Let's pause for a moment...and let's look at using some restraint before we rush to action."  Because military action can lead to an escalation and spiral out of control.  So, why I voted no, was one, the president already has the authority to execute a military action.  He doesn't need Congress; under the War Powers Act he has that authority.  But Congress is the people's house, and the Congress is responsible for providing checks and balances, and you cannot just allow the administration to run ahead with a strategy without reporting back and without having some oversight.

Now we must bring the perpetrators to justice.  International terrorism is upon us---this is a new world and we cannot make any mistakes in dealing with it.  We do not want to see our reaction lead to another reaction which could allow this to spiral out of control. So while we grieve and while we provide assistance---and I did vote to provide assistance for the families and communities that have been devastated and also providing funding for anti-terrorist activities for securing our own country---we've got to conduct a full investigation and be really deliberate about how we move forward militarily.  We cannot make any mistake about this, this is an unconventional war and we have to fight it in an unconventional way.

DAVEY D: We're talking about the nature of terrorism and whether it could be a tit-for-tat type of scenario if we go out and retaliate and hit the wrong targets or capture the wrong people, the next thing you know we could be involved in a situation where a can of worms has been opened that we just can't close it up.

BARBARA LEE: We don't know the real nature of terrorism in the true sense of the word.  We have not invested in combating terrorism the way we should have, which involves many issues.  It involves our foreign policy, it involves multinational cooperation, it involves diplomatic efforts.  It involves pulling all of these very multifaceted areas together to come up with a real way to deal with terrorism.  I don't believe we have faced the fact that terrorism is the new war that this country is going to have to fight.  We're looking at putting up billions of dollars for national missile defense.  Well, anti-ballistic missiles---that would not have saved the lives or prevented the horrible morning that we saw last Tuesday, it just wouldn't have done it.  So, we're looking at putting military money into the wrong areas.  We need to look at what this means in terms of securing our country, securing our world, and how to use our tax dollars toward that purpose.  I am convinced that military action alone will not prevent further terrorist attacks.

DAVEY D: One of things I'm concerned about is the number of people of color who will be on these front lines.  A third of the army is made up of people of color, because of the economic conditions we're in. If we have to go out there and fight a war, how is this going to impact our communities disproportionately---and are we going to have some dire effects that will be with us for generations?

BARBARA LEE: Certainly, that's always the case---our communities are always disproportionately represented in the military and we'll be called to serve and fight.  Whenever that happens, whomever it is, we have to be very careful.  We don't want our young men and women put in harm's way.  I am a very patriotic person, and I support the United States and our government.  And I believe that my support for our country and for our people dictates that I be prudent, that I not rush to judgment on any decisions, and that we step back for a minute and realize any impact that this could have on young men and women of color, and all young Americans as we move forward.  Fighting a terrorist war...I'm not sure our young people are prepared for that, and we've got to stamp out terrorism in the world but it's very complicated.

DAVEY D: I've got the sense that people think that this will be over in a hurry, almost like you're playing a game, and I'm trying to tell people, that this is real stuff.  You've got people that have committed themselves to dying, and that's kind of scary.

BARBARA LEE: We're all in trauma right now, in a state of disbelief and mourning.  A member of my staff had a family member killed in one of the planes.  This catastrophe has touched the lives of so many people.  Going back to why I said "No, let's use restraint,"---it's for that reason.  My professional training is as a social worker, and I understand the human psyche, and the community psyche, and our country's psyche.  Right not, were dealing with recovery, and we're dealing with mourning, and there's no way until we settle in, should we deal with decisions that could escalate violence and spiral out of control.  We just all must be reasoned and reasonable about this. When we bring these terrorists to justice, we have to be pointed and know what we're doing.  The world is a dangerous place.

DAVEY D: With all the money that we pay in tax dollars directed toward intelligence gathering, the CIA, the FBI, the racial profiling at airports and the like, how could we have someone come in to this country, learn to fly from our own schools, and fly an airplane for 20, 30 minutes and not be detected?  Was this a breakdown in the intelligence community?

BARBARA LEE: Obviously, that money has not been spent properly and I think that one of the reasons I did vote for the $40 billion is that there's money in there to really look at how we increase the public safety of our people in this country, within the confines of civil liberties.  We have to find that balance.  Protecting the public, protecting the country, and not allowing our civil liberties to be eroded.  That's where we need to put the funding and resources, and that's why I did support that money.  But something went terribly wrong, and we'll see how these investigations go.  But we have to insist on a full and thorough investigation.

DAVEY D: Do you think with all the concern right now, we will be finding our civil liberties actually taken off the paper altogether in the name of national security?  Will people be pulled over, profiled, searched more?  If I'm a part of an organization that says "Peace not war," will they label me a potential terrorist?

BARBARA LEE: Certainly we have to fight against that trend.  There are those who would like to see that happen.  They will overreact to a tragedy and use this opportunity to do just what you said.  That's part of the danger in rushing to judgment.  As a branch of the government that's responsible to the people, it's up to Congress to execute our Constitutional responsibilities to ensure that there's checks on policies that could be put in place under the name of national security.  This is very serious.

DAVEY D: You've come from an era of the Black Panthers, from the Vietnam era, when there were a lot of groups that found themselves subjected to the Cointel policies of the FBI.  They were harassed by the various government agencies, from the local police to the CIA, their patriotism was questioned.  If we don't keep that in mind, do you think it might lead to us just falling in line and maybe not questioning government when we have a right to do so?

BARBARA LEE: We better understand the history, and I'm very on top of my own history with these agencies and I know what can happen.  So we must be vigilant right now, because under the cloak of national security, many of our civil liberties could be just wiped off the floor.  There are those of us who are going to fight to make sure that's not going to happen, but we're also going to fight to make sure justice is served by making sure that the people and organizations who did this are brought to justice.  We also have to begin to look at our foreign policy, our diplomatic efforts, and some of the reasons why we don't engage in dialogue with certain countries and individuals and organizations.  This is a very complex issue in the US, and we should be right now leading the world in showing our children how in the face of adversity we respond and minimize the loss of life.  We don't want to see any more people lose their lives.  We cannot tolerate another terrorist attack, and we certainly cannot tolerate any loss of life, any more in our country, and anywhere in the world.

DAVEY D: Many are painting a picture that, "if you're not with the US, you're against us.  " They would take a look at your dissenting vote and say, "Congresswoman Barbara Lee is not patriotic, she's not supporting the president, she's making it difficult for us to do what we need to do."  How do you respond to that type of criticism?

BARBARA LEE: People have said that.  And in my response, I tell them that I'm very patriotic.  As a citizen, I have the right to represent a point of view.  That's central to our democracy---the right to dissent, the right to provide a different point of view that's out in the open, in the full view of the American people.  I did not make this decision behind closed doors; I've explained my decision.  I think the beauty of democracy, and one of it's fundamental principles,is the right to free speech and the right to disagree.  I support the administration in their actions; that's not the point.  Their role is this, they're moving forward.  What we have to understand, is that the Congress is a body that represents the people in our country.  It's up to us to step back and say, "Okay, now we have an additional responsibility."  We must make sure that the president reports to us, so that we can report back to our constituents what's going on.  You donít want to not know, do you? Congress has a very critical role in this.  So if I am going to be patriotic, and I am, and if I am going to be a good American, which I know I am, I am going to make sure that our democracy works and I'm going to hold it accountable, and make sure that it works not only for my constituents, but for the whole country.  You don't want to rush to judgment while we're depressed and angry and frustrated.  That's like herding cattle in one direction.  You want people who are thinking clearly, who are working with the president, and giving them different ideas and insights.  I'm an African-American woman, I'm on the International Relations committee.  I have a point of an American...that may be useful when we talk about international terrorism.  There are many people who have different points of view...that's America.  So to those people who say those things, they better check their own credentials.  They may need to become more participatory in our democracy.

DAVEY D: That's a key word---participatory.  I come across a lot of people who are waving the flag, but aren't registered to vote.  All this information about foreign policy and our government's role has been out there, but a lot of people have ignored it until now.  All of a sudden, they're out for blood, and don't even understand where Afghanistan is and what it would take to defeat it.  This is a country that beat back Russia, a couple of times.  It's not going to be an easy haul, and I'm afraid people aren't really thinking long term.

BARBARA LEE: Being patriotic at this moment in our history means participating in decisions about the future of our world.  It means participating in decisions that will hopefully bring us to peace, and ensure that these terrorists are brought to justice and that no man, woman, or child, ever gets killed in such brutal assaults ever again That's what participatory democracy is about at this moment.  People should feel understand and feel empowered that it's through their members of Congress that represent them, that they can make their voice be heard.  Not just react, but engage.

DAVEY D: People would question, would you acting on behalf of Barbara Lee or were you acting on behalf of the Berkeley-Oakland district you represent when you decided to be that lone dissenting vote against Bush's resolution for war?

BARBARA LEE: First of all, this was not a poll-driven vote.  This was the most painful vote I have taken in Congress, really in all 12 years that I've been in elected office.  It was a grueling experience for me.  I have been in many briefings, classified and unclassified.  I have been in so many meetings.  I was in the Capitol when the plane went into the Pentagon, and we had to evacuate.  It's been a nightmare.  I went through the intellectual process, through the fact-gathering, through the policy analysis, looking through the foreign policy and intelligence and military implications of our move. It weighed heavily on me.  I was not going to the National Cathedral for the prayer service..because I wanted to continue in my discussions, and reflect on the resolution that was coming up.  But at the last minute, I decided to go, that I had to pray over this.  I realized I had to settle down and say some prayers, to try to get some strength to help me through the rest of the week.

It was a very powerful, very beautiful prayer service, very painful. I listened to the prayers, and prayed, and listened to the comments and the sermons.  One of the clergy, very eloquently said, in his prayer, "As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore, " And at that moment, I knew what the right vote was, and what I had to do. So it was a combination of factors that brought me to that place. There are very few times when there are votes of conscience that your moral compass must guide you, very few times that there's some bottom lines.  And this was one of those times.  I talked to my colleagues, and believe me, there are many members of Congress who feel as I feel, who are raising questions about not having the President report back on military action.  People are concerned.  I think my vote, represented my week of deliberations, my discussions, my thoughts, my analysis, and my conscience, and I voted 'no.'  I believe it was the right vote.  I still say, and I said on the floor that night, "We must, step back."  We must allow time for the grieving, and the mourning.

Congress has got to be the body that says, "Let's use some restraint, lets make sure that our actions lead to what we want to accomplish, and that's to make sure their are no more attacks on our people and on our country" We've got to make the most deliberate strategies that we can that are going to be effective.

DAVEY D: There's been a number of attacks throughout our country on our Arab brothers and sisters...even on those who look like they might be Arab.  Sadly, some of this abuse has come at the hands of black and brown folks, who have gotten caught up in the wave of patriotism that has swept the country.  What are your thoughts on this?

BARBARA LEE: This is very a serious problem.  We passed a resolution on that same night that condemned attacks on Arab-Americans and Muslims and all those who could be under attack as a result of this. What we see now is an environment of fear.  The worst is coming out in people.  We've never had a war on our land before--other countries have, the US hasn't.  Were vulnerable.  When people react in fear, what do they do?  They turn on each other.  The person who looks the wrong way receives the brunt of your anger and fear.  So I'm urging and encouraging young people to please understand that when these planes crashed into the towers, they killed people of all colors, ages, races.  creeds.  It was an equal opportunity destroyer.

DAVEY D: It just seems a shame that people who have been persecuted, especially blacks and Latinos, who have been the brunt of abuse by the military, are turning around and attacking people in our own communities.  Once upon time Latinos in LA were attacked by US Sailors in what is now known as the Zoot suit riots.  African Americans were at the short end of the stick in numerous situations and scenarios

BARBARA LEE: We've got to pause and understand the moment that we're in.  Moving forward, whether it's on a political level, or in our communities, against each other, there's some serious implications of this.  If we donut understand that were grieving, we're baffled, we're afraid, this behavior is going to escalate.  I'm trying to help young people understand who their enemy is and who it is not.  In this moment of all moments, we should be embracing each other.  My constituents are as conflicted and upset in California as people are all over the East Coast and the country.

DAVEY D: Do you think when you get back to Bay Area, you'll have some kind of a town hall so that those people that voted you into office can come on down and build with you?

BARBARA LEE: We' re definitely going to be holding events in our community to try and help sort though this grieving process.  In terms of future direction, we want to bring some clarity and understanding as to how the Congress should function when we're in a vulnerable state, when we've been attacked and what our role is in terms of checks and balances.  I want to do some education and forums and basic discussions with young people about their fears.  I know children are scared about what they're seeing on TV But the way our country responds to it will ensure as they grow up that they are able to deal with their problems in a way that is appropriate.  It's important that they see that rage and war gets out of control and leads to more violence.  We have to be very measured in our response as we go after the perpetrators of this horror, and make sure that our children know that in the face of adversity, America can rise up and be the great democracy that it is, and deal with all these problems immediately.

DAVEY D: Have you heard from any high ranking officials about your vote.  Also, Bush has two daughters who are college you think that they would be on the front line?  How do you think it will perceived if 19 and 20 year olds are being asked to serve this country and his daughters are still making headlines getting drunk at rat parties??

BARBARA LEE: That poses the kind of questions and dilemmas before us. There are many questions that have to be asked..the kind of terrain ahead of us in a country we don   t know, how much collateral loss will we be inflicting in terms of innocent women and children?  Loss of life is loss of life.  The Congress needs to ask these questions, force the administration to answer these questions.  That does not mean that we, and I, are not unified.  I'm sure I will hear from the administration, I'm on the foreign affairs committee.  I see Secretary Powell fairly frequently.  I haven't talked to him.  Hess been fairly measured in his response, I think Hess trying to bring some balance to the policy.  But in terms of supporting the President, that Congress has to make sure that he is successful, that any reaction to this horrible attack does not come back in terms of any spiraling out of control.  If you have nobody to check that, it could be very scary.

DAVEY D: Congresswoman Lee thank you so much for taking time out of your day to break it down for us. To reach Barbara Lee call her at 510-763-0370

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[article below is right-wing attack on barbara lee---includes politically-biased discussion of events in grenada. the rep. rankin referred to in the article was a life-long peace activist and progressive. This opinion claims to have been published in the wall street journal as an op-ed piece. the url for this article is: ]


Who Is Barbara Lee? And was her "no" vote motivated by pacifism or anti-Americanism?

Monday, September 17, 2001 12:00 a.m. EDT

"Let us not become the evil we deplore," Rep. Barbara Lee said on the House floor last Friday in explaining why she was the "1" in the 420-1 vote against a resolution giving President Bush authority to use necessary force against terrorism.

"Violence begets violence, and we don't want that to happen. That kills people," she told her colleagues. She suggested that as an alternative the U.S. capture and try those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York and enhance security at key installations. Apologists for the Ms. Lee, a California Democrat whose district includes Oakland and Berkeley, are already explaining that her vote is consistent with her lifelong commitment to nonviolence, which includes a bill to establish a "Department of Peace." One wishes Ms. Lee were just a clueless liberal, but her history leads me to conclude that she is the kind of "San Francisco Democrat" that former United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick criticized in 1984: someone who "always blames America first."

American history is chock full of examples of lone voices standing up against the conventional wisdom. Some were profiles in courage, such as Justice John Marshall Harlan, the lone dissenter in the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which upheld Jim Crow laws in the South. Others were men of principle, such as Sen. Wayne Morse and Ernest Greuning. These two Democrats cast the only votes against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, suspecting correctly that LBJ wasn't being fully candid with Congress and would turn the authority to wage war into a blank check.

Others were sincerely confused. Rep. Jeanette Rankin, a Montana Republican, voted against U.S. entry into World War I in 1917 and was promptly turned out of office. A full 22 years later, forgiving voters elected her to another term---just in time for her to cast the lone vote against U.S. entry into World War II. She wisely chose to retire from public life at that point, though she briefly considered another race just before her death in 1973.

We won't be so lucky with Rep. Lee. She frequently intervenes in controversial issues with an unapologetically left-wing perspective. Last year, she traveled to Cuba with Rep. Maxine Waters to hear "firsthand how the people of Cuba feel about" Elian Gonzalez. Ms. Lee returned to say that "as a trained social worker, I can unequivocally say that Elian's father is totally fit and equipped to raise his son in a loving environment."

In 1998, she was one of five House members to oppose retaliatory air strikes against Iraq. In 1999 she was the lone vote to oppose a resolution supporting U.S. troops during the conflict with Serbia. "I believe in peace," she explained. "I believe the way we resolve conflict is not through military action and bombing." But she was aware of the fact that other peace activists had voted in support of U.S. troops. "I was surprised," she admitted. "Being the only 'no' vote is troubling. You wonder if there's something you've missed."

On the surface, Ms. Lee is consistent in her pacifism. She was appalled that the U.S. didn't do more to stop the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which 800,000 people died. "We should have been there," she said, "but not with bombs. We should have negotiated, and put our stake down." She left unsaid how the U.S. could have negotiated with the rampaging machete-wielding madmen who massacred whole villages.

Rather than dismiss Ms. Lee as a starry-eyed innocent, I believe her history shows her to be an intelligent and focused opponent of the use of American power. In 1975, she graduated with a master's degree in social work and started a community mental health center. In 1979, at 33, she joined the staff of Rep. Ron Dellums, a radical product of the antiwar movement. She rose to become his chief of staff.

The radical politics of Rep. Dellums and much of his staff came to light in 1983, when the U.S. invaded Grenada, freed a group of American medical students and deposed a Marxist regime that was building a large airfield with Cuban personnel. Shortly before the invasion, Mr. Dellums and his staff had conducted a "fact finding" mission to the island designed to show that the airfield could never be used for military purposes. His office prepared a report on the trip and asked for the Marxist regime to vet it, according to documents from a meeting of the communist government's politburo that American troops captured.

"Barbara Lee is here presently and has brought with her a report on the international airport done by Ron Dellums," the documents read. "They have requested that we look at the document and suggest any changes we deem necessary. They will be willing to make changes." The meeting documents go on to discuss possible military uses of the airfield.

Another document captured by American troops was the diary of Grenada's Marxist defense minister. He wrote "The Revo[lution] has been able to crush counter-revolution internationally. Airport will be used for Cuban and Soviet military." The implication of this is that the Dellums team either were hopeless dupes or something more sinister. Mr. Dellums's final report to Congress on the airfield concluded that "nothing being done in Grenada constitutes a threat to the United States or her allies."

Nothing was done to discipline Mr. Dellums after these revelations, even though a letter from Mr. Dellums's special assistant Carlottia Scott to the island's Marxist ruler said that Mr. Dellums is "really hooked on you and Grenada and doesn't want anything to happen to building the Revo and making it strong." A Reagan administration official explained to me at the time that stripping Mr. Dellums of his senior status on the House Armed Services Commitee would only make a martyr of him.

The documents have appeared in few places outside of National Review, Human Events and the syndicated column of Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. Authors David Horowitz and Peter Collier, who were left-wing editors of the radical journal Ramparts in the 1960s but became disillusioned and are now conservatives, wrote that that Rep. Dellums was part of a "Fifth Column Left" that during the Cold War used allegations of "McCarthyism" to "pre-empt scrutiny of their divided loyalties and covert agendas."

Rep. Lee's district is perhaps the most radical in the country. Last year the 9% of the vote that Ralph Nader's won there almost equaled George W. Bush's 12% showing. Oakland's Mayor Jerry Brown, a political independent, says his biggest policy challenge often is dealing with people for whom the excesses of the late 1960s are still today's reality. But I suspect that even in Berkeley, there are constituents of Rep. Lee for whom her latest departure from sanity is too much. America has been attacked, and while pacifism has an honorable tradition in this country, what Ms. Lee seems to use as a cloak for her belief that when it comes to the use of American power, her country can never do right.  ##



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