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Walk Blog: Visit to Governor Doyle's office (Madison, WI)

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July 30, 2008

In Madison, WI, we delivered a letter to Governor Doyle, urging him to support State assemblyman Spenser Black in his efforts to prevent the National Guard from going to Iraq. Mr.Farland, an aide to the governor, met with about two dozen of us who crowded into the reception area of the governor’s office. The letter reads:

Governor Jim Doyle
Office of the Governor 115 East State Capitol Madison, Wisconsin 53702 Governor Doyle,

The Red Arrow 32nd Brigade Combat Team of the Wisconsin National Guard is currently scheduled to deploy to Iraq in 2009.

We urge you to take all necessary steps to prevent this deployment from happening. This includes, but is not limited to, taking legal action in the form of a lawsuit to prevent future deployments to Iraq.

We believe that you have the legal authority to prevent the deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard to Iraq. Specifically, the Authorization to Use Military Force against Iraq, passed by Congress in October 2002, achieved its objectives. Congress authorized the use of military force against Iraq for two very specific reasons:

  1. to force Iraq to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions; and,
  2. because Iraq was considered to be a threat to the national security of the United States.

Each of these two conditions have been achieved. Indeed the U.S. is negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement with the current government of Iraq, indicating that the U.S. considers Iraq to now be an allied nation.

With the achievement of these two conditions, the purpose for the authorization for the use of military force against Iraq has terminated. This authorization provided the basis for the federalization of the National Guard. With the expiration of this authorization, the legal basis for the federalization of the Guard has also lapsed.

We encourage you to challenge the deployment of the National Guard by refusing to permit the deployment of the 32nd Brigade next year. This no doubt will result in legal action involving your office. But it truly is essential that such a constitutional crisis be created in order to challenge continuing deployments of the National Guard to the Iraq war.

Precedent exists for Wisconsin to challenge the federal government’s military decisions. In 1983 Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government seeking to prevent the operation of the Navy’s Project ELF, a transmitter key to the U.S. nuclear first strike strategy.

We look forward to your action to keep the Guard home.

Jim Cusack, a labor organizer and organizer with Voces de la Frontera (an immigrants rights and workers rights organization based in Milwaukee), spoke of displacement and loss caused by the war, recalling the hundreds of thousands of families, in the US and in Iraq, aching for loved ones who will never return.

Dan Pearson explained Representative Spenser Black’s proposal to Mr. Farland and emphasized that funds allocated for military spending should be redircted to ease the humanitarian crisis caused by ongoing war in Iraq. Dan briefly noted that he had lived amongst Iraqi refugees in Damascus, Syria, for five months and then worked with Iraqis resettled in Chicago. He could verify, through personal experience, that many Iraqis he met were unable to provide basic needs for their families.

I wanted the governor’s aide to know that we’re planning to visit Ft. Mc Coy, which is training soldiers from other states to deploy for combat duty in Iraq. I told him that after living under aerial bombardment of Baghdad throughout the Shock and Awe bombing, I felt acutely responsible to help prevent the terror and horror that these attacks cause.

A teacher from Wisconsin told Mr. Farland that the state had abruptly cut funding for a program to teach English as a Second Language to refugee families that have just arrived in the state, many of them families displaced by the Viet Nam war who, for decades, awaited resettlement in the U.S. and who have now finally arrived here. She asked if the war in Iraq would likely create new waves of displaced people whose needs would be unmet while the military demands dominated state and national budgets.

Alice Gerard told Mr. Farland about a crossing guard, in Jefferson, WI, who told Alice that she supported our walk because she had a son who is in Iraq now and this is his fifth deployment. “Mr Farland, there is a hole left in these families,” said Alice, “a hole in their homes and their hearts when their loved ones go off to war.”

“Witness Against War” walkers and supporters presented earnest, well-informed and persuasive testimony to Mr. Farland. We encourage anyone reading our reports to echo the sentiments we presented by writing letters to Governor Doyle.