WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 27, 2017) — Veterans For Peace, a 140 chapter global organization that works to educate the causes and enormous costs and consequences of wars, this week endorsed the bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (U.S. House Resolution 608) that was recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2).
If passed in Congress and signed by President Donald Trump, the act would making it illegal for federal government funds to be used to provide certain types of assistance to groups identified as terrorists or those identified as working with terrorists, including other nations. The act defines assistance as weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training and cash.
“As veterans we took an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States,” said Barry Ladendorf, president of Veterans For Peace. “The threat to the Constitution comes not from Russia, China or ISIL but from within the walls of Washington D.C. where the Congress and the Executive branch have enmeshed the country in ongoing unnecessary, illegal and unconstitutional wars.”
Gabbard, who is a major in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, also served in Iraq as a military police officer. She currently serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees in Congress.
“Those who have seen and experienced war firsthand share a unique appreciation for the need for peace,” Gabbard said. “From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has and continues to wage wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. I am grateful to have the support of Veterans for Peace for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and for their work to prevent the United States from continuing to pursue counterproductive, interventionist wars.”
The act is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Yoho (R-FLY) and Garrett Thomas (R-VA). In addition to Veterans for Peace the act is also endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America and the U.S. Peace Council.
The act would require the Director of National Intelligence to determine which individuals and groups that are considered terrorists for the purposes of the act. The DNI would also update country lists and foreign groups considered terrorist or supporting terrorism in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services Committees and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Veterans For Peace network advocates for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars. Ladendorf, who served as a naval officer during the Vietnam War, said that Veterans For Peace seeks to restrain the government from intervening, overtly or covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations.
“Certainly, the U.S. government should not be supporting regime change wars nor directly or indirectly supporting known terrorist organizations, proxy groups and their allies to violently overthrow established governments,” Ladendorf said. “We also thank Rep. Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, for introducing this important bill, Stop Arming Terrorist, which Veterans For Peace proudly supports and for her recent important fact finding trip to Syria.”
According to Gabbard, the act would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to directly or indirectly support terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS or those working with them. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria from using U.S. funds to directly or indirectly support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups.