This morning (Monday, April 10th) a large group- about 12 of us went to see Sen Arlen Specter's Chief of Staff who came down form DC to talk with us. We are still holding out for a town meeting with Specter. AS you will see the exchange of ideas was good BUT Specter is still going forward with funding the war because: “Regardless of how we got into the war, we need to ensure that we don’t leave a power vacuum in Iraq”
When some of us came out of the Federal Building after the exchange with Bill Reynolds, it was good to see and feel supported by Monique (PRAWN), Hal (Germantown Friends Meeting) Carol (WILPF) standng with a poster and Resister Sister's banner -
OUT OF IRAQ!
Notes from meeting with Bill Reynolds , Sen Specter's chief of Staff -
(Written by Karen Wisniewski, minor edits by Rich Gardner)
The agreed-upon procedure was that all of us would speak in turn and then Reynolds would answer and then we would have a more free-for-all discussion.
- Larry Petkov, representing PRAWN, former public school teacher: requests that Specter introduce a resolution similar to James McGovern’s and to vote against appropriations for troops in Iraq.
- Kaki Sjogren, social worker, alternatives to violence: wants a public debate that addresses private interests—oil—and the exploitation of the natural resources of the Iraqi people. What will Specter do to expose the private gains?
- Matt Sullivan, college student/activist: asked Specter to take a stand now against the war (he cited 70% troops on the ground support for withdrawal in 6 months) and expressed serious concern about the possible use of nuclear weapons in Iran
- Rich Gardner, Retired US Navy petty officer: What is Specter’s opinion of VP Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 examining maps of Iraqi oil fields? Iraqi people want US troops to go home. Does Specter respect the wishes of the Iraqi people?
- Marge Van Cleef, teacher, musician, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition: Will Specter support a floor debate about the war? Will the US leave or continue to occupy Iraq? What about the 14 new bases in Iraq? Will Specter take a stand about an invasion of Iran? Will he listen to US generals on the ground who are saying troops should be withdrawn?
- Bernadette Cronin-Gellar, social worker for 44 years, with child welfare, now working in adult ed, St. Vincent’s Peace Committee, Brandywine Peace Community: How long will Specter support an immoral war?
- Phyllis Gilbert, with Peace Action - Delaware Valley, property owner and landlady: Did Specter go to war based on solid information? Will he introduce a resolution in the Senate stronger than Murtha’s?
- Marlene Santoyo, WILPF, NOW and Germantown Monthly Meeting (Quakers): Why do they hate us? What are US soldiers dying for? No war in Iran.
- Ruth Balter, grandmother: What about the staggering debt and the next generations?
- Karen Wisniewski, RN in free clinic in Kensington, Delaware Co. Pledge of Resistance, Philadelphia Buddhist Peace Fellowship: reminder of the poor in Kensington.
- Bill Perry, Disabled Vets of America, VFW, Vietnam Vets for Peace, member of the building trades: It’s all about Specter’s legacy.
Responses from Bill Reynolds:
“The thought that we would use nuclear weapons in Iran is very, very, troubling…the senator will be asking some hard questions about this”
“The senator is not afraid to wag his finger in the president’s face”
“He bucked the president and the Republican Party with the additional appropriations of $7billion for labor, health and education” “His overall position on the war is different than Murtha’s, which is not to say that his position will not change”
“He is not in a position to enter a resolution like Murtha’s or McGovern ’s”
His justification :
“Keep up the grassroots activism” Reynolds said this at least four times
“Senator Specter has no problem poking a finger in the eyes of those who need poking” (said twice)
“Needs to be a workable plan for a pull out”
This is for want of a better word, “an imperial presidency”
“We do more than is required by senate rules” regarding reporting of interests, etc.
“We’re not in this to get rich; it’s a calling for me”
“Grassroots activism IS the force of change”
“I will present to him (Specter) what you’ve told me, look at the resolutions, including Kerry’s, and tell him that you still want to meet with him”
“I can’t tell you that he is or isn’t going to change his mind” on the war.