Intel on the House Intel Committee and the “Gas Station with Nukes” - Denny Heck at the Tacoma World Affairs Council, August 30, 2018
Last Thursday, three of my OI colleagues and I heard our CD-10 congressman, Denny Heck, speak at a forum organized by the Tacoma World Affairs Council and held at the University of Puget Sound. The topic of the event was “Inside the Intelligence Committee.”
Denny began by stating how his membership on the committee was a fluke, as he was not next in line, but he declined, out of discretion I presume, to tell that story. He is very honored and pleased to be on the committee, but was frank about the emotional adjustment required. Describing how he walks to every meeting through three sealed chambers before entering the meeting room where no cell phones are allowed and how he slept terribly for the first three months due to the horrific nature of some of the intelligence to which he was now privy, he made me a little nervous! He held up a note, now framed, scrawled and passed to him by California Congressman Adam Schiff, which says something to the effect of, “Are you happy now?” The nature of what this committee deals with regularly is grave and frightening.
He named five ongoing security threats to the United States which he strongly believes must not be ignored: Russia, Iran, China and North Korea, and what he referred to as the “plus one”: non-state terrorists. He also included Saudi Arabia as troublesome to the U.S., adding that he disagrees with President Trump’s viewpoint on this Middle Eastern country. He did not mince words when referring to any of them and is unequivocal about the danger they all present to American security.
He focused on Russia, calling it a “gas station with nukes”, in a reference to Russia’s weak economy, which is completely reliant on its oil and gas resources, and its stockpile of nuclear weapons. Russia’s cyber-invasion began several years ago and has been ceaseless. He labels it “Cold War II” and believes we must and we have the means to stop Russia. However, the lack of presidential leadership (Trump is “not competent” for the office) and intransigent congressional Republicans are obstructing making a vigorous defense. That the large tech companies are finally taking action, e.g. Microsoft’s unmasking of Russian hacking attempts in August, is important and necessary assistance.
After speaking for about 20 minutes, Congressman Heck then took questions from the audience, which consisted mostly of seniors and UPS students, most of those political science, government and history majors. Here are a few:
*IMPEACHMENT: When angrily challenged as to why he did not sign a House proposal to begin impeachment proceedings on President Trump, Heck was adamant, but respectful. He believes initiating impeachment now would impede the House from attending to necessary business for the American people. He also believes it is more responsible and fair to wait until the Mueller investigation report has been submitted. He has a lot of respect for Mueller and trusts the investigation process.
*BIPARTISANSHIP: When asked about partisanship on the House Intelligence Committee, he surprised many of us when he stated that the committee does work in a bipartisanship way. The one exception is the Russia problem; that is where the wall goes up and there is no flexibility. He is very frustrated with Congressman Nunes and was unhappy about Nunes’ recent trip to Great Britain to try and obtain intelligence. Actually, he said being unhappy about that is “an understatement.”
*FOREIGN DIPLOMACY: Asked about the departures of so many diplomats from the State Department, he called it a “loss.” He believes in the efficacy of the “soft power” of diplomacy.
*ISRAEL: He was asked about his take on Israel, and responded that he believes in the two-state solution. He is highly critical of Netanyahu. At this point, he does not see much hope for progress.
*TV INTERVIEWS: One student asked why he doesn’t present some of these opinions in his television appearances. He laughed, and said he doesn’t make up the questions! He is invited by various news shows, that is, he doesn’t request appearances, and he responds to the questions they want to ask.
Overall, I found Congressman Heck to be an informative speaker, as well as affable, humorous, and articulate. Clearly, he is very serious about his job and the values and principles that guide him.
CALLING ALL OLYMPIA INDIVISIBLERS TO JOIN TOGETHER AT OUR VERY FIRST ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP PICNIC
rsvp at email@example.com
WHEN? Sunday, August 19, 4-8pm - Priest Point Park Shelter #1
Please feel free to stay for whatever time suits you best! We'll break bread together at 5:30pm.
WHAT WILL THIS BE? An old-fashioned, family-friendly event. A great time to meet your fellow Indivisiblers!!
WHO CAN COME? This is a social event for OI members - you, your partner, children, extended family, and guests.
We've invited our OI Endorsed Federal, State, and County Candidates to join us (this isn't a campaign event - no speeches, just socializing!).
Please rsvp at firstname.lastname@example.org so OI can provide the right amount of beverages, cups, dishes, etc.
WHERE? Priest Point Park, Shelter #1, the Rose Garden. (2600 East Bay Drive Northeast, Olympia, WA 98506).
The shelter seats up to 75 at picnic tables, has a power outlet and a sink, paved parking, and easy access to rest rooms.
NO BARBECUE GRILLS.
- the principal activity is simply enjoying time with your family, friends and fellow Indivisiblers! In addition, we'll offer the following:
- a DIY jam session area for all you music-makers and singers (please bring your acoustic instrument and vocal chords!)
- GOTV DIY post cards for WA-03 Congressional district (we'll have all the supplies! All we need is you!)
- board games, card games, chess set for you analog gamers
- OI Swag and Team Sign-up Tables (get you a T-shirt! Yeah! And a button! Oh, yeah!) Join an OI team (Ohhhhh yeah!)
4-5:30: snacks, games, jam session, GOTV post cards, socialize!!
5:30-6:30: supper (bring your own main course and potluck side dishes, salads, and deserts)
6:30-6:45: Entertainment (from some amazing OI members!)
6:45-7:00: OI announcements (what's shakin' at OI for the rest of the mid-term season?)
7-7:30: more socializing!
WHAT WILL OI PROVIDE?
- pre-supper snacks
- beverages (punch, lemonade, water, iced tea)
- a scrumptious sheet cake with an epic message!
- napkins, recyclable cups, and reusable eating utensils and plates
- table cloths (the shelter has picnic-table seating)
- board games grown-ups
- hoola hoops, sidewalk chalk, coloring books for kids
WHAT TO BRING? It's a Yogi Bear picnic, so please bring your own main course for yourself, your family, and your guest; AND
- if your last name starts with the letter A-P, a potluck side dish or salad to share (please furnish serving utensils--thanks!);
- if your last name starts with the letter Q-Z, a potluck desert to share (please furnish serving utensil--thanks!).
- musical instrument, voices included (if you'd like to do some freestyle jamming before supper!)
- board games, cards, nerf balls, hoola hoops
- bug spray; sun screen; towels, if you plan to walk to the beach
- PLEASE NOTE THAT NO ALCOHOL MAY BE CONSUMED AT THIS EVENT
Please, Please, Please, RSVP at email@example.com so we can make sure we have enough beverages, etc.!!
We guarantee a good time will be had by all!
Olympia Indivisible Steering Committee
Olympia Indivisible has endorsed four more candidate for the 2018 elections
State Senator Legislative District 35: Irene Bowling (D)
State Representative Legislative District 35 Position 1: James Thomas (D)
State Representative Legislative District 35 Position 2: David Daggett (D)
Thurston Public Utility District - Commissioner District 1: Andrew Saturn (NP)
Please get out and support these candidates - Primary voting ends August 7.
OI endorsed candidates can be found here: https://www.olympiaindivisible.com/endorsements.html
On July 17th, Olympia Indivisible met with Denny Heck's staffers to go over our priorities—family reunification, support for Maxine Waters, a return to civility, migrant issues, and support for affordable healthcare, among others—and to check in on the representative’s actions in office toward advancing these priorities. We wanted this meeting to be different from past meetings. We wanted to have more in depth dialogue with the staffers, as opposed to just talking “at” them about the issues we’re passionate about. The staffers expressed Representative Heck’s support for many of our priorities and cited his recent legislative record. They also stressed the frustration of their position—how many constituents don’t understand the ins and outs of congressional gridlock, but still expect their representatives to deliver on their demands. Because of this, they did not express any concrete commitments from Representative Heck, but they seemed very receptive to what we had to say, taking notes and jotting down new details we had to give them. Additionally, they provided feedback from our immediate past visit. They noted that the Congressman often refers to Olympia Indivisible in his meetings with other representatives, and that Olympia Indivisible is regarded as one of the most active Indivisible chapters in the nation. We are optimistic about Representative Heck’s allegiance to our priorities and his willingness to hear what his constituents have to say. His staffers were very gracious and definitely willing to engage in dialogue with us. We’ll still be watching Representative Heck’s voting record to make sure he is dedicated to advancing the cause of Progressive values, even when congressional gridlock makes things difficult.
~ McKenzie Murray, OHS Grad & UW Undergraduate
Those in attendance from Rep. Heck's office: Phil Gardner, Dallas Roberts
Representatives of OI attending: Carolyn Barclift, Jen Merrill, Joni Brill, Ruth Shearer (GRI), Gracie Anderson, McKenzie Murray