Tallahassee Anti-War Activists Meet With Congressman Allen Boyd

Submitted by tnjp on June 7, 2007 - 4:47am.

Tallahassee Anti-War Activists Meet With Congressman Allen Boyd - Meeting Yields Generalities, Platitudes, and a 'Local Colloquialism'

On Monday June 4th a group of Tallahassee area residents representing several local and national anti-war organizations met with Congressman Allen Boyd (FL-D) to demand an end to the Iraq War and bring the troops home. Congressman Boyd greeted the group in the lobby of his offices on Summit Lake Drive east of Tallahassee and then asked his staff to seat us in the conference room.

The meeting began with Lydia Vickers from CodePINK Tallahassee thanking the congressman for his time and thanking him for his vote on HR1591, which had a timetable to bring the troops home. She read a from list of demands that included taking effective action to bring the troops home, using the power of the purse to achieve that goal, and to reject all future funding for the Iraq War unless it is tied to specific withdrawl plans. She then explained that we would each introduce ourselves and talk to him about our concerns in regard to the war in Iraq and bringing the troops home...

Carol Stachurski, a member of MoveOn.org, began by pointing out that polls were showing a majority of citizens now wanting the troops brought home from Iraq and asking why the congressman had voted for the funding without any timetables or benchmarks. Congressman Boyd replied that he didn't take polls and voted what he thought was right and his feeling was the polls showing 60 to 70% were misleading when it came to funding and he thought if a poll asked about cutting funding it would probable show only 20% in favor of that possibility. The congressman made it clear that being a vet himself he would not cut funding for troops in Iraq.

Martha George was next, she began by telling the congressman about having family members who worked in the Veterans Administration and their observations in regard to the terrible injuries and psychological consequences for our troops and the fact that the VA is being overwhelmed by vets from Iraq. Boyd replied the injured troops were the responsibility of Defense Dept. when they came home while the VA was for inactive/retired military personnel and that the VA was adding more facilities. He said that Bush went into Iraq with no regard for the consequences, that Bush with his tax cuts also cut spending for VA, but now the Congress was moving in the right direction with increased funds for the VA. Lydia pointed out that North Florida was going to get some of that VA funding and Boyd stated there will be a new outpatient clinic in Mariana.

Then Su Ecenia, member of Tallahasseeans Who Believe It's Time to Come Home, asked Boyd if he thought the war was winnable and if not what plan he had to bring the troops home. Boyd said he thought the military had gotten it right when we first went into Iraq but now it was not capable of accomplishing the mission in Iraq militarily and that the State Department headed by Condi Rice were clueless in their diplomatic efforts. He then added the current situation was worse than is being reported and a recent junket that he tried to organize to take some congressmen to Iraq who had not gone there before was canceled because they couldn't stay overnight in the Green Zone because it was too dangerous.

Then "Raging Granny" Mystic Mary told the congressman how baffled she was about how the administration kept acting the same way as they did when it had a Republican majority in Congress and asked why Democrats in Congress didn't hold Bush accountable. Boyd talked about the committees he is on and he felt Speaker Pelosi was doing the best she could.

Cactus Pat, with the Tallahassee Network for Justice and Peace, then brought up the issue of fourteen permanent bases being constructed in Iraq and asked about congressional oversight and demanded Congress exercise its constitutional authority to keep these bases from being built and added that we were building a embassy the size of the Vatican, dubbed the Colossus of Baghdad. Boyd replied by saying we needed the embassy and said he didn't know about these permanent bases and asked for more information and a follow-up. Cactus Pat responded by saying the long term trend toward the NeoCon fantasy of a Unitary Executive, predating Bush, needs to be reversed by a reassertion of Congressional authority.

Vince George, member of Military Families Speak Out started out by telling Boyd he wanted him to force the issue about funding and then spoke of his brother who is in training to be deployed to Iraq, asking the congressman for his help as Boyd was a vet himself. Boyd spoke about the president having to relinquish command. Then Boyd went on about the fact that our National Guard troops have not been used this way since WWII and how re-equipping the Guard would be costly. He said when he was in Vietnam he was pleased with the debate back home at that time. On the issue of funding he said he was part of a lot of discussion that the leadership of the house had about this and he favored a 60 day plan where congress would have to revisit the funding issue regularly but the leadership decided not to go that way on funding. Several around the table at that point chimed in, liking this idea (60 day).

Isabel Sheridan, a local life-long Democrat, then read her talking points from a letter prepared in advance, demanding timetables and wanting Congress to block any war with Iran, add teeth to symbolic statements, reject funding unless tied to a withdrawal plan, and investigate misuse of pre-war intelligence. Isabel then told Boyd she thought the Democrats should come up with a plan to end war as they were reasonable and the Republicans were not. She said healthcare issues and the Iraq war were connected and told Boyd she wanted spending on health care and domestic issues rather than war. Boyd responded in the affirmative that the Iraq War was diverting funds from being spent on domestic issues such as healthcare, education, and other domestic priorities.

Dave Giordano from CodePINK Tallahassee then asked Boyd to support or co-sponsor amendments to additional funding that contained benchmarks and timelines with teeth. Pat added that we hoped Boyd would author amendments himself and several others around the table then brought up the 60 day funding plan that the congressman had tried to initiate a couple months ago. Boyd replied that we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the President was in charge of foreign relations, Bush made the decision to start the war, Bush is in charge of running the war and Bush will have to order the withdraw of the troops as Commander in Chief. Boyd continued by saying that the situation in Iraq created by Bush's mishandling would take a long time to solve and we now have emboldened Iran. He said when we get out (of Iraq) it will be chaos.

Boyd then offered a "local colloquialism" describing Bush's demeanor, "Bush is like one of the old boys down on the Wacissa River with a six pack and a half in 'im that gets mean when someone doesn't agree with 'im and threatens to kick their ass." That elicited a round of laughs.

Lydia Vickers wrapped up, thanking Congressman Boyd for his time and offering him some summer reading material. A copy of the documentary movie "The Ground Truth", Al Gore's new book "The Assault on Reason", "Out of Iraq" by George McGovern, "Stop the Next War Now" by CodePINK, a copy of a citizens report on "The Case of Ehren Watada", plus statistics on the deadly effects of IED's on US troops in Iraq and on the financial impact of the Iraq War on the Florida 2nd Congressional District, a message from Gainesville's Veterans for Peace, and the latest Quinnipac polling report showing 65% of the population opposes Bush's handling of the Iraq War.

Boyd thanked the group for being organized and said he was thankful about the conversation.

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A response from Jerry Smithwick...

Submitted by tnjp on June 7, 2007 - 11:03pm.

A response from Jerry Smithwick...

Pat and All,

Thanks so very much for the follow-up information discussed on Monday, June 4 during meeting with Congressman Boyd.
I thought the meeting was good and I appreciate the efforts of all in arranging your schedules to come have the discussion.

Best Regards,

Jerry Smithwick
District Director
Congressman Allen Boyd

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