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Congress Must Have All Facts -- Including Any the Administration Would Rather Squelch

As members of the Obama Administration and Congress debate perhaps the gravest responsibility our Constitution entrusts to themthe vote whether or not to go to warthere is both a legal and moral imperative that their decision be based on the most accurate and complete information available.

Before taking this vote, Congress must be certain that the categorical assertions being made by the administration to justify military action are irrefutable.

History has taught us that there is often informed internal dissent that is squelched by those at the top of the chain of command. It’s not beyond the pale to think that senior officials might not be telling us the truth. Just in recent months, we have seen a top-ranking administration official mislead Congress about surveillance. And we all know now that we entered Iraq based on falsebut unequivocalstatements by the previous Administration.

There is no greater example of why we need to protect whistleblowers in the intelligence community than to encourage potential truthtellers to come forward with new information in the face of pending war. We urge Congress to listen carefully and to pledge now to protect any brave whistleblowers who may take extraordinary risks to illuminate this critical debate.

By: Danielle Brian
Executive Director, POGO

danielle brian Ms. Brian's areas of expertise include: National Security, Government Oversight, Wasteful Defense Spending, Ethics, Open Government, Whistleblower Issues

Topics: National Security, Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Intelligence

Authors: Danielle Brian

Submitted by Cameron at: September 8, 2013
Thanks Danielle for all the hard work you and your people are doing...keep up the great work! =)
Submitted by Anonymous at: September 8, 2013
Submitted by Hal at: September 8, 2013
With the anniversary of 9/11 just around the corner it would be nice to reflect back on what we have learned as we now face the question of the horrific events in Syria. What would Barbara Tuchman the historian that wrote the classic book the Guns of August think as we reflect on if our current President is leading us into war with Syria? To quote Carl von Clausewitz’s masterpiece, On War, war is “an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.” This Prussian soldier and scholar told us long ago that war is not merely blind violence, but the use of force to achieve political aim against a thinking, responsive enemy. He counseled us then that no one in his senses should consider war without first being clear in his own mind what he intends to achieve by the war and how he intends to conduct it. As we approach the Syria issue it would seem we have not learned this lesson from our current engagements in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The President would seem to be right to turn not only turn to the Congress, but also to the American people to address this issue. What were our political aims and strategy in both Afghanistan and Iraq and have we achieved them. It is estimated we could have spent $ 7 trillion on these two engagements to date with little consideration if it was an effective use of tax dollars. Why have we not had this discussion with the American tax payer of what we have sacrificed for this generation and future generations for these engagements? I can only guess that if the true economic cost was presented to the American public that they might have further questions for our policy makers of today as they confront Syria. What objectives do we wish to obtain in Syria? What assurances do we have that various levels of force would obtain these objectives? How do we define victory? What assumptions are we making when we state that use of force will provide a victory? Will Syria and the various other factions involved within the Syrian nation state evolve into more ominous players on the international stage then the current state of unrest and horror? Are we willing to accept that unknown outcome? What could go wrong and what would be our response? Do we not need to take the moral high ground first to the backers of the Syrian regime to address on the public stage their determination to be coconspirators in acts of war crimes? Are they willing to the extent of coming to his defense when he may meet the court of international justice and are also willing to face international justice? The Congress and the American public need to consider how this will end. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution and our excursions in both Afghanistan and Iraq do not reflect well that we have learned a great deal since the Guns of Augusts have now become the Guns of September.
Submitted by B Bear at: September 8, 2013
My wife and I were traveling this past week and met a young man in the US Army. He told us that friends of his, also in the Army, were already stationed in Syria and that through them he knew that there are already, right now, 4,000 US troops -- boots on the ground -- in Syria (2,000 Marines and 2,000 Infantry). The're just waiting for the order to shoot, or to be fired upon so that, according to the Rules of Engagement, they can shoot back and begin the war. This information, he said, is being kept from the public -- obviously, since the media hasn't mentioned it yet, to my knowledge.
Submitted by fahdutnik at: September 8, 2013
It just occurred to me that if the stockpile of chemical weapons in Syria were TARGETED by us, wouldn't that CAUSE THEM TO BE DISPERSED INTO THE AIR? Wouldn't WE be causing chemical weapons DEATHS?
Submitted by Neil at: September 7, 2013
I want to help the Syrian people, especially the women and children but we must make sure all the facts are in. Where did the chemical weapons come from, who delivered them, what can be done to ban them from being sold, who can be held accountable from selling and profiting from them??? This is the ultimate problem as far as I see it.
Submitted by tanasi at: September 7, 2013
Almost 200 countries have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Two others have signed but not ratified the international agreement outlawing chemical weapons. Why, then, is only one of all these countries (France) willing to join the U.S. in striking Syria?
Submitted by Bear at: September 7, 2013
Their should not be any prolong debate in congress about declaring war on Syria, the voters have spoken and our citizens do not want any more wars based on secret info or propaganda coming in from terrorist organizations filtering into Syria. Israel wants this war not America and where is this so called ally when it comes to doing more than agitating for another war. Bush: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! REMEMBER THE LIBERTY!!
Submitted by matinah at: September 7, 2013
the people, all in syria, are suffering so now. why on earth would our solution be to bomb them even more, just to send a message to assad. what kind of sense does that make, even if he is rightly using chemical weapons. we will be using bombs. they kill just as much as chemical weapons. it's like saying a silver bullet will kill a vampire. any bullet could kill any human. this makes no sense.
Submitted by REDPILLED at: September 7, 2013
Here is a fact usually omitted by corporate press: an attack by the U.S. on Syria, a nation which does NOT threaten the U.S., would violate the U.N. Charter, the Nuremberg Principles (Principle VI), and be a war crime, regardless of whether Congress approves or not.
Submitted by GH at: September 7, 2013
Going back in history all wars have provided two things prune society and provide extreme profits for the Elites. We need Whistle-blowers to keep them on their toes, it will not be business as usual.
Submitted by GH at: September 7, 2013
It is embarrassing to the people of America to have our elected officials shooting from the hip. The world sees them, as we the people, and our representation of what we are. Administrations need to be held accountable for their arrogant actions, they not entitled by the people of America to play war games with our money, our lives and the lives of the peoples of other countries. Is it the crusades all over again?
Submitted by SteveBF at: September 5, 2013
It should be a no-brainer you would think. Representatives of the people (at least nominally) SHOULD have all the facts at hand in order to make informed decisions for all votes .... and especially for such grave ones as those impacting on military action.
Submitted by Anonymous at: September 4, 2013
All of our last 'few' wars have been mistakes, or poor info, poor decisions, bad intelligence, etc. all wars are 'bad 'wars unless for defense !!

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