Gunning for Syria

Negotiations over the last several days have apparently postponed, if not altogether eliminated, the threat of a U.S. military attack on Syria. While the U.S. Congress has not had the chance to take a final vote on the issue, New Mexico’s two U.S. Senators were quick to take a public position.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Tom Udall had the opportunity to take a public vote on this issue. We commend Senator Udall for breaking with the Democratic Party leadership to cast a vote against this war, and to continue to speak out against war in media interviews.

New Mexico’s other senator, Martin Heinrich, is another matter. He did not even have to take a public position, as the issue never came before the full Senate. Yet he felt the need to join the cry for war from the Democratic Party leadership, in particular Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee on which Heinrich serves.

Feinstein has used her committee to defend NSA surveillance, claiming, “This is called protecting America.” She has described the recently disclosed court order compelling Verizon to hand over call data relating to millions of Americans as a program in place since 2006.

Animal and environmental activists remember Feinstein for another of her activities in 2006, when she got Congress to pass the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. AETA established fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment up to one year “for an offense involving exclusively a non-violent physical obstruction of an animal enterprise or a business having a connection to, or relationship with, an animal enterprise, that may result in loss of profits but does not result in bodily injury or death or property damage or loss.”

At the time of his election to the US. Senate, Martin Heinrich was best known for his strong advocacy of opening up all federal lands, including national parklands, to hunters and trappers. His experience in killing wildlife has earned him large campaign contributions from mainstream environmental groups such as the Leage of Conservation Voters. Perhaps now that the recent massive fire in Yellowstone National Park has shown to be caused by a hunter in the vicinity, Heinrich will have to hold off on his plans, and concentrate instead on supporting the national security establishment.

Even if military action against Syria has been postponed, the real target, as it was in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains Iran. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week, President Obama stated: “I think what the Iranians understand is that– the nuclear issue– is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that– the threat against Iran– against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests.”

Perhaps the Obama Adminstration is now working on a plan for Israel to attack Iran. The Guardian has recently revealed a long-standing program of cooperation between the NSA and Israeli intelligence.