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Proviso Probe

Saturday, February 21, 2009

IL-05 Dems on military issues and executive power

In the special election for IL-05 (which includes Northlake and most of Melrose Park in Proviso Township) there will be a candidate forum Sunday, February 22, 1:30 - 4:00 PM at VFW Post 1284, 6940 W Diversey Ave, Chicago. I don't know which candidates will be there.

When I spoke to Jan Donatelli last week she made the point that the different forums tend to ask the same questions over and over. The field of candidates have been asked about the stimulus bill at every forum.

I do think that people organizing and moderating the questions at these forums should research the stuff that's been asked before. Much (most?) of it is available online.

I'm hoping the VFW forum will focus on matters of the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and the State Department.

In preparation for the forum I pulled the Democratic answers from the IVI-IPO candidate questionnaires.

7.Do you agree with the current proposed level of funding for the military?

Carlos Monteagudo:
No. At a cost of 20 billion dollars a week, the moneys spent on executing the war in Iraq could be better used on activisties that would dramatically increase our heath, economic and global security.... (click here and scroll to #7 for the complete answer)

Mike Quigley (answer):
No. I believe there are savings tat can be found at the Pentagon that would probably be better spent on things like energy research and diplomacy, both issues that also promote our national security.

Charlie Wheelan (answer):
No. I believe we need a well-funded military, however, the Pentagon budget must reflect the priorities and needs of the wars we are currently fighting. I'd like to see some of the funds shifted to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support those who have served already and for funds to be added to the Department of State for additional diplomatic activity. We need to significantly improve the funding for the State Department and other non-military international activities.

Frank Annunzio:
No. Military spending has more than doubled since 2001 and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost 170 billion dollars this year alone. I believe we should cut military spending in half over the next 5 years and utilize the money to buy down our debt, ensure that we never again have homeless veterans, and implementation of a single payer health care system.

Paul Bryar (answer):
No. President Obama has not yet proposed his military funding level. I believe that it should be different from the latest funding by the last administration. It should take into account re-shaping our military to deal with the threats of the 21st century.

Sara Feigenholtz (answer):
No. We need to direct more resources to provide assistance for return veterans and their families and work to expand access to health care services, including treatment for mental illnesses like PTSD.

Victor Forys:
Yes. I woul like to see the military spend more money on veterans services like traumatic brain injury, mental illness and PTSD which are currently not getting fully funded. I'd also like to see pay for enlisted personnel increased.

John Fritchey (answer):
No. As we withdraw from Iraq we must lower appropriations both to the overall Defense budget and the Global War on Terror supplement. President Obama plans to reduce Defense spending by 10%, and I believe we must continue to eliminate waste from the Department's operations, particularly in long-term weapon systems purchasing where costs continuously overrun projections. In general, a refocus on diplomacy should be accompanied by an increase in funding for State Department and particularly USAID programs, and a decrease in disproportionate military spending. One of our first priorities, however, must be to ensure our troops are fully and properly equipped to face whatever missions they are assigned.

Tom Geoghegan (answer):
No. We need to draw down our deployment levels in countries that are stable democracies like those in western Europe. These funds can be better deployed converting our energy systems to renewable sources and away from fossil fuels.

With the possible exception of Bryar, it seems like all the candidates favor reprogramming money now spent on the military (Department of Defense) to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of State and energy research. I give Annunzio props for significantly cutting the DOD and using the money for converting to a single-payer health care system.

But if the Democrats agree that military spending should be cut, why hasn't it happened? In Democratic Congresses and under Democratic presidents military spending has increased. Why will it be different now?

Since there is little difference between the candidates on the military budget question, I'm going to include other questions about executive branch power.

10.Would you support congressional investigations into government contractors that have participated in Human Rights violations such as the rendition/torture flights?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley
No: Wheelan
Quigley expanded:
If violations of the law are clear, then we must have accountability.

11. Would you support legislation banning such activities in the question above?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Wheelan
No: none
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley
I'm unsure as to the question. If there were human rights violations, they are already covered by US law.

12. Will you support legislation guaranteeing the protections of the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution to “enemy combatants” or others similarly detained by the US Government anywhere in the world?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Wheelan
No: none
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley

The constitution provides a means by which to legally address enemy combatants through international treaties. I think it is time to revisit the Geneva Conventions now that international, stateless enemies exist.

65.Would you support Congressional investigations of wrong-doing under the Bush administration?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo
No: Wheelan
Declined yes/no answer: Quigley

Forys expanded answer:
We are a country of laws not of me. We will not know where we are, unless we know where we came from. The statute of limitations has not passed on the crimes that were committed by the Bush Administration.

I graduated from UIC with a degree in Criminal Justice. Societies that do not provide justice to all their individuals can never be stable or free.

Monteagudo expanded answer:
Yes but not at the expense of getting things done in Congress moving forward. We must not get mired down in a criminal investigation or hearing that would take years to prosecute and could lead to viscous partisan bickering and government paralysis. I would rather see something like a truth and reconciliation commission created.

I believe we must move forward, but in instances of clear wrong-doing, we have to hold people accountable.

103. Do you support changes to the Military Commissions Act?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley
No: Wheelan

107/108. Would you support legislation authorizing or prohibiting secret military tribunals?

I do not support any type of military tribunal. This is unfair on many levels. We must ensure civil liberties for all.

I believe that secret military tribunals should be prohibited.

I have always been a fierce supporter of the due proces for all individuals detained by American law enforcement. A secret military tribunal does not allow for this.

I would support legislation prohibiting secret military tribunals.

I would support legislation prohibiting secret military tribunals. As President Obama has said, we must reject the false choice between our ideals and our security. The secret military tribunals haphazardly fashioned by the Bush administration do not provide internationally accepted due process to prisoners in the war on terror, and have incited our enemies while alienating our allies. I was encouraged by President Obama's rapid steps to begin closing the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and I support a continued redesign of our anti-terrorism programs.

I do not support Secret Military Tribunals.

Monteagudo's answer began,
“Secret military tribunals are a dangerous affront to international rules of conduct....” Click link and scroll to #108 for the complete answer.

There are instances where trials must be conducted in secret to protect classified information, but they should be reviewed by Congress so that there is somebodyy accountable to the people involved.

Our justice system is predicated on fair and open trials. Defendants in even the most terrible of crimes are entitled certain rights. Secret military tribunals would violate those basic rights.

109. Do you support legislation banning torture and inhumane treatment of detainees under US control?
Yes: Annunzio, Bryar, Feigenholtz, Forys, Fritchey, Geoghegan, Monteagudo, Quigley, Wheelan
No: none

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