"Of course, this is the way the program would work in an "ideal" world. Realistically, it is very difficult to gain a sense of a community, especially one foreign to your own, from 25,000 feet in the air, and misunderstandings often happen. On February 4, 2002, an MQ-1 Predator drone surveilled and coordinated an airstrike upon a group of men in a place called Zhawar Kili, because a tall man who was thought to be Osama Bin Laden (Osama was 6’5"), was being "treated with reverence" by the two other men who were in the group. It turned out to be local scrap metal collectors. Daraz Khan, the tall man (who was 5’11") and about 31 years old, from the village of Lalazha, and two others, Jehangir Khan, about 28, and Mir Ahmed, about 30, from the village of Patalan. All three died instantly. Currently, surveillance by drones is not banned or regulated by any aspect of international law." American Friends Service Committee.
END DRONE STRIKES NOW! STEPP FOR CONGRESS!
WASHINGTON — On the face of it, one of the most powerful pairings in Washington is a hopeless mismatch — a former social worker and liberal Democrat from Baltimore’s working-class Fells Point neighborhood and an old-school, cigar-chomping GOP conservative raised in a dry county in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky.
But in a bitterly divided Congress, the odd couple of Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Harold Rogers is a rare bipartisan success story.
Mikulski and Rogers are chiefly responsible for divvying up $1 trillion in federal spending as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of the same committee in the House. While their personal backgrounds could hardly be more different, their operating styles are remarkably similar.
Both are pragmatists in a Congress littered with ideologues. Neither minces words or tolerates foolishness. Both prefer deal-making to speechifying. And each understands that in order to strike a deal the other side needs to claim some wins.
Mikulski has a reputation for toughness though her once-fearsome temper seems to have mellowed in recent years. “Her BS quotient is very, very low. She doesn’t tolerate BS and she doesn’t dish it out,” Obey said. “She is very pragmatic, very hard-nosed.”
Rogers and Mikulski face an enormously difficult task: advancing 12 spending bills setting the annual operating budgets for federal agencies and most government programs, ranging from funding the armed forces and overseas military operations to air traffic control, the national parks and forecasting the weather.
The result is that many lawmakers have less reason to vote for spending bills. The appropriations process is a challenge in good years. Amid broader battles over taxes and whether to expand or shrink the government, it has been derailed in recent ones.
Boehner, for example, sided with the GOP’s tea party wing in 2013 and saddled Rogers with a budget outline that pleased conservatives but shortchanged domestic programs and doomed appropriators to failure last summer. Rogers could only watch as tea party forces steamrolled House leaders into a government shutdown last fall.
What eventually came out of it was a two-year budget deal that paved the way for Rogers and Mikulski to get the process back on track. In January they accomplished several months’ worth of work in a few weeks, negotiating and winning passage of a $1.1 trillion catchall spending bill for 2014.
Mikulski first bill was slated to hit the Senate floor Tuesday — a hybrid Mikulski cobbled together from three measures funding the departments of Commerce, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture. The Senate is likely to spend most of two weeks on it. The House is scheduled to open debate Wednesday on Rogers’ spending bill for the Pentagon.
“She’s determined to get the train back on track with appropriations, as am I,” Rogers said of Mikulski. “To do that you have to understand the other side’s point of view and perspective and needs, politically to get the bills passed on the floors of both bodies.”
Mikulski says her approach is “to focus with civility and courtesy. Old school values. Don’t do surprises or stunts and negotiate directly and not through the press.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell describes Mikulski as forceful and results oriented. “I think she’s terrific.”
“She is no nonsense ... and that really gives her the credibility to work with her colleagues that other people wish they had,” said former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle.
Mikulski is more engaging and approachable than her predecessors as appropriations chairman, the late Sens. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. She’s spent decades honing relationships with members of both parties, learning their needs and end goals.