Congressman Kucinich continues to be a leading voice in Congress in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additional funding for war operations in Iraq serves only to ensure a continued occupation thereby undermining the stated U.S. goal for withdrawal by 2011. Funds for Iraq should be dedicated to bringing all U.S. troops and contractors home immediately. Congressman Kucinich believes that the U.S. must meet our moral obligation to rebuild Iraq and support viable solutions to the crises faced by the refugee and internally displaced populations. The U.S. must therefore maintain a continued commitment to the country of Iraq that does not include war or occupation.
Furthermore, the Congressman believes that funding expanded combat operations in Afghanistan will not meet the security objectives of the U.S. Sending additional brave American service members to Afghanistan does not increase security and it is not an act of diplomacy. Congressman Kucinich has maintained that this approach only encourages the Taliban and other insurgent groups to do likewise, while fueling their recruiting efforts. Increasing the U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan serves to ensure that the months and perhaps years ahead will be bloody.
Congress controls the power of the purse and therefore has the power to end these wars and bring our troops home through a collective refusal to grant additional war funds.
In June 2009, Congressman Kucinich urged his colleagues to oppose to the Conference report to H.R. 2346, Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2009. This bill included $79.9 billion for defense and intelligence activities to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Congressman penned two letters to his colleagues in opposition to the bill. In a letter addressed to his colleagues and cosigned by Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California, Mr. Kucinich urged his colleagues to vote against the war funding arguing, among other things, that “voting down the funds for war honors the mandate to end the war in Iraq that was given to this body by the American people in November of 2006. Furthermore, defeat of the War Supplemental sends a clear message about U.S. priorities at home and abroad.”
In a separate letter to his colleagues that was cosigned by Congressman Bob Filner, Mr. Kucinich urged opposition to H.R. 2346 due to the inclusion of $108 billion worth of funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Proponents of the bill argued that the IMF funding was necessary to enable the IMF to stimulate the economies of low and mid-income countries through loans. In the letter Congressman Kucinich argued that “the bailout loans made by the IMF since the onset of the economic crisis in September 2008 all include policies that contract, rather than stimulate, the economies of the recipient countries.” Furthermore, the Congressman notes that the “IMF has a long history of placing economic conditions on countries receiving loans that have actually damaged, rather than stimulated, those economies, and its policies have not changed enough to warrant support. In addition, the hundreds of billions of dollars the IMF already has available are more than enough to service this type of lending. The new request is of a scale that appears to go beyond the stated intent. It is more consistent with the resources needed for bailouts of wealthy country finance sectors, such as those given from TARP to private banks.”
In the 108th Congress, Congressman Kucinich continued his fight for a balanced U.S. approach to Kosovo. On May 18, 2003, he sent a letter to House Committee on International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde and Ranking Member Tom Lantos, regarding a hearing that the Committee was to hold on the future of Kosovo. The panel of invited witnesses only representing neutral and Albanian positions, not the Serbian position. In light of the ongoing suffering by the Serbian population in Kosovo, the hearing would not be objective without such a position. Congressman Kucinich’s letter asked that the Committee invite Mr. John Zavales, a seasoned expert on the region to represent the Serbian position.
In the 107th Congress, Congressman Kucinich convened a briefing in April 2001 entitled “Peace in the Balkans: Myth or Reality?” focusing on the recent developments in Macedonia and Kosovo and the environmental effects of war in the Balkans. Participants included Joan McQueeney Mitric, a journalist who has covered the environmental catastrophe; General William Nash, who served in the Balkans, of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Gary Dempsey of the Cato Institute.
In the 106th Congress, Congressman Kucinich was one of the leading Democrats in opposition to the Balkan war and to NATO's bombing strategy. On April 28, 1999, Congress voted overwhelmingly against declaring war on Yugoslavia (H.J. Res. 44). Congressman Kucinich was also instrumental in the defeat of a bill (S.Con.Res. 21) that would have legally sanctioned the Administration to wage a larger war. The resolution was defeated in a 213-213 tie vote. As a result, the War Powers Resolution's restriction on the length of an unauthorized military campaign remained in place, and was one factor leading to the war’s quick end.
On April 30, 1999, a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress, including Congressman Kucinich, filed a lawsuit to compel the President to follow the Constitution and halt U.S. armed forces from engaging in military action in Yugoslavia unless Congress declared war or granted the President specific statutory authority.
Congressman Kucinich played an active leadership role in Congress in seeking a peaceful resolution to the Balkan crisis in 1999. In an effort to encourage peace and negotiations in the Balkans, in April 1999, Congressman Kucinich joined an 11-member congressional delegation to Vienna, Austria chaired by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA). There, the representatives met with leaders of the Russian Duma. The two delegations issued a joint report that included recommendations for resolving the crisis and a framework for a peace accord. A congressional resolution based on the Congress-Duma peace framework, H. Con. Res. 99, came out of these consultations.
In Cleveland, Congressman Kucinich co-chaired and attended a candlelight "Procession for Peace" on Sunday, May 23, 1999. Under a driving rain, more than 400 marchers walked 1.2 miles across one of Cleveland's largest bridges in support of peace. The peace march was organized by Cleveland religious leaders, community groups, and labor organizations to push for an end to NATO's bombing of Serbia, an end to ethnic cleansing, and for peaceful negotiations to end the two-month war.
The Congressman also held a weekly series of "Teach-Ins" on Capitol Hill discussing the consequences of and alternatives to the NATO bombing campaign. He wrote to the Administration on many occasions regarding the targeting of civilian sites and infrastructure, and delivered several speeches on the House floor questioning the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia.
Congressman Kucinich continued to monitor events in the Balkans after the NATO bombing stopped. In July of 2000, Kucinich introduced an amendment to a Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would have prohibited funding from being used for the Kosovo Protection Corps. In September 1999 the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was transformed into a 5,000-member, demilitarized, civilian organization known as the Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC). According to UN Regulations on the establishment of the KPC, "the Kosovo Corps shall not have any role in law enforcement or the maintenance of law and order."
However, according to an unreleased internal United Nations Report, the Kosovo Protection Corps had been responsible for violence, extortion, murder and torture. The Washington Post reported that the UN document cited several members of the KPC who "allegedly tortured or killed local citizens and illegally detained others; illegally attempted to conduct law enforcement activities; illegally forced local businesses to pay taxes; and threatened UN police who attempted to intervene and stop the wrongdoing.” Congressman Kucinich's amendment was not passed, but he remained determined to find non-military solutions to strife in the Balkans.
In his effort to search for common ground in the Balkans, Congressman Kucinich held various congressional briefings on the topic of Kosovo. In March 2000, Rep. Kucinich invited military analysts and international policy researchers to discuss the continued conflict on the ground in the region. Speakers included: Chuck Spinney, Operational Research Analyst, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation at the Pentagon; Robert Hayden, Director, Russian and Eastern European Studies, University of Pittsburgh; Ted Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Stojan Cerovic, Senior Fellow at the United States Institutes of Peace; Michael Ratner, Vice President, International Lawyer, Center for Constitutional Rights; and Pierre Sprey, former Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis at the Pentagon.
On July 19, 2000, Congressman Kucinich held another briefing to discuss the future of the Balkans. The briefing, entitled "Keeping the Peace in Kosovo?" examined the peacekeeping process in Kosovo a year after the war ended. One of the issues the panelists discussed was whether NATO's mission has accomplished its stated goal to establish peace in the region. In addition, panelists discussed United States policy towards the Balkans region and what is likely to become of Kosovo in the future. Panelists included: James Bissett, former Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania; Srdja Trifkovic, director of the Center for International Affairs at Rockford Institute; and David Binder, former New York Times correspondent in East Europe. Venezuela
In June 2002, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to the House Committee on International Relations requesting an investigation into the role of the U.S. Administration in the April 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. A number of reports came out detailing meetings between members of the U.S. Administration and leading Chavez opponents. Also, according to the New York Times, “the United States channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to American and Venezuelan groups opposed to President Hugo Chavez, including the labor group whose protests led to the Venezuelan president’s brief ouster this month.”
Congressman Kucinich also sent a letter to Senator Dodd on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requesting that the Senate hold hearings on the possible U.S. role. Subsequently, Senator Dodd asked the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department to investigate.
In December 2002, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to President Bush urging the Administration to oppose any attempt to remove the democratically elected government of Venezuela by a military coup or other unconstitutional means. It also called upon the U.S. government to not have normal diplomatic relations with a coup-installed government. Luis Posada Carriles
Congressman Kucinich is committed to universal human rights and universal freedom from terrorism, for all human beings, including those in countries with political differences from the United States. In the 109th Congress, Congressman Kucinich initiated a sign-on letter in the House of Representatives to President Bush concerning the asylum application of known international terrorist and anti-Castro militant, Luis Posada Carriles. According to FBI and CIA officials and reports, Posada was responsible for a Cuban civilian airline bombing that killed 73 people in 1976, and a car bombing in Washington, D.C. that killed former Chilean Foreign Minister, Orlando Letelier and an American associate, Ronni Moffit. Posada also admitted to the New York Times to bombing several tourist locations in Havana, Cuba in 1997, which resulted in the death of an Italian tourist and a number of injuries. Posada entered the United States illegally in spring of 2005 and applied for political asylum. Twenty Members of Congress signed on to the letter opposing the asylum request, stating firmly that U.S. opposition to terrorism must be applied to all terrorists.Brazil
On November 15, 2005, Rep. Kucinich, along with Reps. Timothy Ryan and James McGovern, spearheaded a letter to Brazilian President Lula, which was signed by 24 Members of Congress, regarding the case of Sister Dorothy Stang. Sister Dorothy, who was from Ohio, was murdered in Brazil while working for land reform. The letter called on President Lula to ensure due process and justice in the Stang case, and emphasized that this case has the potential to set a powerful precedent for how the Brazilian justice system should deal with the hundreds of similar human rights violations.
In February 2004, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, expressing concern about the assassination of three Brazilian Labor Ministry inspectors and their driver by unknown gunmen on January 28, 2004. It is believed that the inspectors were specifically targeted because of their efforts to investigate widespread slavery practices that occur on Brazilian farms.El Salvador
On March 16, 2005, Rep. Kucinich, a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC), sponsored a CHRC briefing on the human rights situation in El Salvador, and how the Central American Free Trade Agreement would affect human rights. Dr. Beatrice de Carrillo, the Human Rights Ombudswoman of El Salvador, was among the notable speakers who testified before Members of Congress and staff who were present at the briefing.Colombia
In February 2004, Congressman Kucinich initiated a letter, signed by 24 of his colleagues, to the president of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, urging him to protect Ricardo Esquivia, a prominent church leader who had been falsely identified as a member of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Mr. Esquivia, and his organization JUSTAPAZ, has a proven record of pursuing nonviolent solutions for peace in Colombia.North Korea
On January 25, 2006, Rep. Kucinich sponsored a Congressional briefing on the Korea reunification movement and U.S. foreign policy options for Korea. The panel of expert witnesses included Eric Sirotkin, Korea Peace Project; Professor Thomas Kim, Scripps College, Korea Policy Institute; Dr. Pilju Kim Joo, Agglobe Services International, seed scientist during North Korea’s food famine; Christine Ahn, Korean Americans United for Peace, Oakland Institute Fellow; John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus; Karin Lee, Friends Committee on National Legislation.Burma
In July 2003, Congressman Kucinich responded to the repeated calls of the people of Burma for a nonviolent course of action in the form of stronger sanctions, which will directly affect the pockets of the Burmese dictators. Kucinich was a primary sponsor of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, which would impose an import ban, visa ban, and the freezing of assets of the brutal military junta in Burma.Indonesia
In both FY 2004 and FY 2005, Congressman Kucinich requested that Appropriators cut-off of all U.S. military assistance, including weapons sales, training and joint exercises, for the Indonesian military (TNI) until specific human rights conditions are met. The TNI’s human rights record remains atrocious as it operates with continued impunity for the past and current perpetrators of serious crimes and a lack of budget transparency.Nigeria
Congressman Kucinich was a recipient of the 1999 William Moses Kunstler Racial Justice award for his efforts in opposition of Chevron's environmental degradation in Nigeria. According to the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, an organization whose mission is to combat racism and social injustice, "Congressman Kucinich has fought for what is right his whole life. He is a politician who does not act like one; he is willing to take on members of his own party as well as banks and big business. One of Congressman Kucinich's major goals has been to hold international corporations accountable for their conduct. Recently, he has worked in Congress for an investigation of collaboration between Chevron and the Nigerian military in the repression of activists protesting against the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta. Chevron has given the Nigerian military helicopters and other hardware that was used to kill those interfering with Chevron's oil drilling."
In a March 5, 1999 letter to Committee Chairman Ben Gilman, the Congressman and several Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the International Relations Committee requested a congressional investigation into allegations that Nigerian security forces, with the help of US-based oil company Chevron, killed innocent Nigerian civilians, committed human rights abuses and harassed environmental activists. Human Rights
Congressman Kucinich has been a champion of global human rights since entering Congress. In 2008, Congressman Kucinich co-chaired two hearings of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus to call attention to political violence in Burma as well as Tibet-China relations.
In April 2008, Congressman Kucinich and Congressman Chris Smith welcomed Lodi Gyari, special envoy to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to discuss the treatment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region by the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese government has conducted a harsh campaign of repression against the peaceful Tibetans and refuses to negotiate with the Dalai Lama for an amicable solution.
One week later, Congressmen Kucinich and Smith were joined by their colleagues Congressmen Holt and Pitts to welcome three Buddhist monks from Burma. These monks conducted peaceful protests of the brutal violence of the military junta that continues to this day. Their testimonies helped increase awareness of the situation in Burma.
On June 23, 2004, Congressman Kucinich participated for the second year in a row in the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) briefing on torture, marking the UN Day in Support of Victims and Survivors of Torture. As an advocate of ending discrimination in the United States and promoting human rights worldwide, Congressman Kucinich, a member of the CHRC, has made the issue of human rights a top international relations priority.
In the 108th Congress, Congressman Kucinich cosponsored many bills calling for greater human rights around the world. He was a cosponsor of H.R.2330, which imposed greater sanctions on the ruling Burmese military junta and recognized the National League of Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people. The bill became public law on July 28, 2003.
The Congressman also cosponsored H.R. 1813, which would have amended the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 to authorize appropriations to provide assistance for domestic and foreign centers and programs for the treatment of victims of torture.
Congressman Kucinich was again a cosponsor of the Human Rights Information Act (H.R. 2534). The bill aimed to provide a process for declassifying on an expedited basis certain documents relating to human rights abuses in Guatemala, Honduras, and other regions. Releasing these documents would have helped investigators look into human rights abuses and bring human rights violators to justice.
In the 107th Congress, the Human Rights Information Act (then numbered H.R 1152) had the support of nearly 70 bipartisan cosponsors, including many senior Republicans on the Government Reform Committee such as Congressmen Ben Gilman, Chris Shays and Tom Davis, and Congresswoman Connie Morella. Congressman Chris Smith, the Chairman of the House International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee was also a cosponsor. Moreover, this bill had the full support of the entire human rights community and was being watched closely by the relevant NGOs.
In the 106th Congress, a Government Reform subcommittee unanimously reported the HRIA to the full committee. On April 5, 2000, Congressman Kucinich testified at the subcommittee urging his colleagues to vote in favor of this important legislation.
The original version of the bill introduced in the105th Congress provided for an expedited procedure for the US Government to respond to requests for human rights documents regarding Guatemala and Honduras. Congressman Kucinich believed that the benefits of this bill should not be limited to only two countries, but should be accessible to others as well. Consequently, the Congressman introduced an amendment in committee in September of 1998, which expanded the scope of this bill. The amendment opened the declassification procedures to international entities such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States and Truth Commissions similar to the Guatemalan Clarification Commission. The amendment also provided for other legitimate international entities from non-Latin American or Caribbean countries, including human rights officials, to have access to declassified information.
Congressman Kucinich believes that if there is a legitimate request for human rights records-- irrespective of its national origin-- it should be honored, so long as it does not endanger our national security. Release of such information could help the families of victims of torture, kidnapping, and killing, by helping provide answers to long-standing questions regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones. If enacted, the Human Rights Information Act would be invaluable to these families.
International Labor Rights
On June 17, 2005, Rep. Kucinich offered an amendment to the United Nations Reform Act, which would strengthen the International Labor Organization (ILO). Specifically, this amendment would require the President to direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to work to strengthen and expand the Social Protection sector of the ILO. An expanded Social Protection sector would allow the ILO to issue more field and regional units of the ILO, increase site inspections of working conditions, and issue more reports on such conditions to the international community. Unfortunately this amendment was defeated.
Immediately after the Administration's announcement of its intentions to withdraw from the ABM Treaty on December 13, 2001, Congressman Kucinich sent a letter to President Bush urging him to reconsider his decision, in order to preserve both global security and the international coalition the President has assembled to fight terrorism.
The Constitution makes clear that only Congress has the power to make and repeal laws. It also states that treaties, which are ratified by the Senate and signed by the President, like any other laws represent the "supreme law of the land." Thus the President's decision to withdraw the United States from the ABM Treaty without consulting one or both houses of Congress violates our Constitution. This is significant, because it erodes our constitutional system of checks and balances designed to prevent power from being concentrated in any one branch of government.
Withdrawing from the ABM Treaty also has national security implications. For thirty years, the ABM Treaty has helped hold together an architecture of agreements that has limited the threat posed by nuclear weapons. There is considerable evidence that the less formal nuclear agreements and policies set to replace this architecture will render nuclear relations unpredictable and unstable.
On Tuesday, June 11, 2002, Congressman Kucinich and thirty other members of the House of Representatives filed a lawsuit to block the President from withdrawing from the ABM Treaty without seeking the consent of Congress. They were represented by Klimaski & Grill, P.C, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
But on December 30, 2002, Judge John Bates, a Bush appointee, dismissed the case on two grounds: that a minority of congressmen had "no standing" to bring the case to court and that the issue of how to terminate treaties constituted a "political question" that could not be resolved by the courts except as a possible "last resort."
Congressman Kucinich and his attorneys didn’t appeal the decision. John Burroughs, a lawyer for the representatives, took heart from one aspect of the judgment, noting in a January 1, 2003 statement that Bates' decision "does not foreclose Congress from asserting its constitutional role in the treaty termination process."
Space Based Weapons
On May 18, 2005, Congressman Kucinich reintroduced the Space Preservation Act, H.R.2420 (first introduced in January 2002), banning the weaponization of space. This legislation would put a lid on weaponization by banning both weapons stationed in outer space and the targeting of any objects in space. (The use of space-based reconnaissance and intelligence equipment would be permitted.) Such a ban would prevent a destructive space arms race along the lines of the nuclear arms race that has placed Earth’s existence in jeopardy for over fifty years.
A space weapons ban will also free up money to fund more important needs. The Department of Defense's Space Based Laser, just one of many different space-based weapons being contemplated, is expected to cost $70-80 billion to develop.
In addition to the Space Preservation Act, Congressman Kucinich offered an amendment on July 20, 2005 to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act to require the President to direct the U.S. representatives to the United Nations to commence negotiations for an international treaty banning space-based weapons. Unfortunately, although this amendment received support by most Democrats, the amendment was defeated.
School of the Americas
As a long time human rights advocate, Congressman Kucinich has actively fought to end funding for the School of the Americas/ Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation. He has consistently cosponsored legislation that calls for closing the SOA/ WHISC and has made several statements on the floor of the House of Representatives advocating the closure of the School. Graduates of this school have been responsible for numerous human rights violations across Latin America. Among the many victims who have died at the hands of SOA graduates were Clevelanders Sister Dorothy Kazel and Sister Jean Donovan.
In the 107th Congress, Congressman Kucinich sent a Dear Colleague letter to other House members emphasizing the similarities between the SOA and the WHISC. When the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2001 passed through Congress, it included provisions for closing the School of the Americas and then re-opening the school under a new name: the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). At the time there were serious doubts as to whether this new Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation would be substantially different from the School of the Americas. Many of the changes were simply cosmetic. For example, existing courses remained and any independent oversight was still significantly limited. Time has confirmed these doubts.
In the 106th Congress, when the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2001 was debated on the House floor, Congress voted by a 204 to 214 margin against an amendment to close the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning. Congressman Kucinich voted in favor of this amendment. Later, he voted against the Defense Authorization Bill because of a number of concerns about the legislation.
Despite the narrow failure of the measure to close the School, there is reason to be encouraged that the SOA can eventually be shut down. Major headway was made in July 1999, when the House of Representatives passed an amendment that cut funding for the School of the Americas. Passage of this amendment was a tremendous victory for human rights defenders, and moved activists one step closer to closing the School.
The Senate passed its own version of the bill, which included funding for the School. Appointed conferees of the House and Senate met to try to resolve the differences between the two bills. Unfortunately, the compromise deleted the amendment language which cut funding for the School of Americas, and thus effectively restored funding for the school.
Congressman Kucinich voted against this conference report and spoke out on the House floor against the overall spending bill because it deleted the provision that would have canceled funding for the School of the Americas.