Dover Bitch

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The AUMF that never was

While Mitch McConnell continues to whine about "micromanagement" and the Bush Administration moves closer to war with Iran and Syria, DB once again feels it is time to remember an essential part of the Iraq story.

Despite the Administration's claims that the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq gives them the justification to expand the war throughout the region, the truth is that Bush already asked Congress for that authority and was totally rejected.

Sec. Rice told Congress today, as she did back on Oct. 19, 2005, that the administration basically has the authority to fight in other countries in the region. In 2005, she did not want to "circumscribe" the president's Constitutional authority. Today, she did not want to "abridge" his authority. Biden stated as clearly as he could that he was certain Bush was never authorized to attack Syria or Iran.

While most Americans will recall that in 2002*, just as then-NSA Rice was falsely telling the American people that Iraq was helping al-Qaeda with chemical weapons, the Bush Administration asked Congress to authorize military action in Iraq.

But that's not the entire story. What has been largely forgotten by the media is that that particular request sent to Congress was the second draft. The first draft was sent to the Hill a week earlier and never even made it as far as a vote.

Why was the first attempt to get permission to go to war rejected so quickly? Well, for starters, it didn't even ask Bush to pretend like he cared about getting U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq. The second draft did, and Bush operated on his usual level of bad faith, kicking those weapons inspectors out to rush us into this unfortunate disaster.

But there was another, crucial reason why the first go at an AUMF didn't stand a chance: It was not limited to Iraq.

Even U.S. lawmakers who support authorization of use of force said they do not like the last line of the draft resolution, which says that "force" should be used against "the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region."

That line, say some members of Congress, is too vague and could allow the president to use force in other Mideast nations beyond Iraq.

"That is probably a bit ambitious," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana. "Would this authorize an invasion of Iran? Or how about Syria? They're in the region. I think we ought to stay focused here, and that is staying focused on Iraq."

The language could lead to a "miniature Armageddon" or "potential World War III," claimed Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who said he will write an alternative resolution with fellow liberal Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, that would place more pre-conditions on Bush before he could use force in Iraq.

The Bush Administration recognized that they were not going to be authorized to use force wherever they wanted and they conceded in the draft that actually passed.

Here's what John Kerry, for example, had to say about the AUMF as he explained, on the floor of the Senate, why he would vote for it:

I am pleased that our pressure, and the questions we have asked, and the criticisms that have been raised publicly, the debate in our democracy has pushed this administration to adopt important changes, both in language as well as in the promises that they make.

The revised White House text, which we will vote on, limits the grant of authority to the President to the use of force only with respect to Iraq. It does not empower him to use force throughout the Persian Gulf region.

And sure enough, the AUMF allows Bush to take action against Iraq and "international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Is Rice going to start telling us that Iran was behind 9/11? It's amazing how often this administration asks for something, is denied, and then just pretends that they had the authority all along.

* Corrected typo in date (originally typed 2005)

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