“I think it is fair to acknowledge that there has been a lot of discussion about the Obama administration’s appointment of so-called czars to various positions in the White House and other departments or agencies. I called this hearing today because I think this is a serious issue that deserves serious study. But I want to be clear that I have no objection either to the people serving as advisors to the president, or to the policy issues they are addressing. These are some very talented people working on some very important issues that this administration absolutely should be addressing, from climate change to health care. I hope that this hearing will enable us to get beyond some of the rhetoric out there and have an informed, reasoned, thoughtful discussion about the constitutional issues surrounding the president’s appointment of certain executive branch officials.
“I should note that while the term ‘czar’ has taken on a somewhat negative connotation in the media in the past few months, several presidents, including President Obama, have used the term themselves to describe the people they have appointed. I assume they have done so to show the seriousness of their effort to address a problem and their expectations of those they have asked to solve it. But historically, a czar is an autocrat, and it’s not surprising that some Americans feel uncomfortable about supposedly all-powerful officials taking over areas of the government.
“While there is a long history of the use of White House advisors and czars, that does not mean we can assume they are constitutionally appropriate. It is important to understand the history for context, but often constitutional problems creep up slowly. It’s not good enough to simply say, ‘well, George Bush did it too.’
“Determining whether these czars are legitimate or whether they will thwart congressional oversight requires analysis of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and a discussion of some complicated constitutional and administrative law principles. I am therefore very pleased that we have such an accomplished group of witnesses who can help us determine whether there is a basis for concern here or not, and if so, what are possible remedies that Congress ought to consider. I want to thank the Ranking Member, Senator Coburn, for helping to put together this distinguished panel.
“I think it is helpful to break down the officials whose legitimacy has been questioned into three categories to better understand the potential legal issues. The first group are positions that I have no concerns about, and frankly, no one else should either. These positions were created by statute and are subject to advice and consent from the Senate. For example, some have called Dennis Blair the Intelligence Czar. But he is the Director of National Intelligence, a position created by Congress based on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Like his predecessors Mike McConnell and John Negroponte, he was confirmed by the Senate. Calling him a ‘czar’ does not make him illegitimate or extra-constitutional. There are roughly nine officials that fall into this category, yet have appeared on some lists of czars. Any serious discussion of this issue has to conclude that there is no problem with these posts.
“The second category of positions also does not appear to be problematic, at least on its face. These are positions that report to a Senate confirmed officer, for example, a Cabinet Secretary. All of these positions are housed outside of the White House and all of these officials’ responsibilities are determined by a superior who Congress has given the power to prescribe duties for underlings. I will leave it to our distinguished constitutional law experts to further discuss this category, but as I understand it, these officials are likely to be considered ‘inferior officers’ under the Appointments Clause, and therefore they are not automatically required to be subject to advice and consent of the Senate. Most of these positions are also housed within parts of the government that are subject to open records laws like the Freedom of Information Act, and many of them have already appeared to testify before Congress. Indeed, of the 32 czars on a prominent media list, 16 have testified this year and two others are in positions where their predecessors under President Bush or Clinton testified. There does not appear to be a constitutional problem with these positions in theory, although it is possible people could identify one in practice, if for example, some of these people were determined to be taking away authority or responsibility from a Senate-confirmed position. However, I do not have any reason at this point to believe that to be the case.
“I am most interested in the third category of positions, and I think we are talking about fewer than 10 people, in part because we know the least about these positions. These officials are housed within the White House itself. Three weeks ago, I wrote to the President and requested more information about these positions, such as the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform and the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. The response to that letter finally came yesterday, and I will put the response in the record and plan to question our witnesses about it.
“The White House decided not to accept my invitation to send a witness to this hearing to explain its position on the constitutional issues we will address today. That’s unfortunate. It’s also a bit ironic since one of the concerns that has been raised about these officials is that they will thwart congressional oversight of the Executive Branch.
“The White House seems to want to fight the attacks against it for having too many ‘czars’ on a political level rather than a substantive level. I don’t think that’s the right approach. If there are good answers to the questions that have been raised, why not give them instead of attacking the motives or good faith of those who have raised questions?
“No one disputes that the president is allowed to hire advisors and aides. In fact, the president is entitled, by statute, to have as many as fifty high-level employees working for him and making top salaries. But Congress and the American people have the right to ensure that the positions in our government that have been delegated legal authority are also the positions that are exercising that authority. If – and I am not saying this is the case -- individuals in the White House are exercising legal authority or binding the executive branch without having been given that power by Congress, that’s a problem. And Congress also has the right to verify that any directives given by a White House czar to a Cabinet member are directly authorized by the president.”Betty and I both think that's important and we also agreed to bench Somerby for at least two days. He announces that the 'talented' Digby will win praise tomorrow.
Not interested in that whore. Ava and C.I. tore apart that book on Campaign 2008 by the Media Matters flunky -- tore it apart for factual errors and for logical ones -- in Polly's Brew. And most of all they pointed to the whores like Digby who wouldn't call out the sexism. The whores who stayed silent.
Bob Somerby can hump Digby's leg for all I care but I'll be damned if I'll ever link to praise for any of the whores who sold out Hillary's 2008 run. They can all go f**k themselves and top of that list is Digby the little Whore who couldn't say a damn word because she wanted to run with the 'big boys.' So the little whore mouthed their balls. Hope she enjoyed it. She's a joke and a whore. I don't know anyone that trusts her lying ass.
Somerby wants to praise her? Well not all that long ago he was planning to praise David Corn. Sometimes I think Bob just checks in and out on his faves and has no idea what they really do. What did Digby do? She whored.
Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Tuesday, October 6, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, the targeting of Iraq's LGBT population gets some press attention, Cindy Sheehan and others protest the continued wars, and more.
Earlier this year, four Iraqi gay males -- Fadi, Ahmed, Mazen and Namir -- discussed the targeting of Iraqi gays in a Baghdad cafe. Within a month, two of the four would be executed for the 'crime' of being gay. Matt McAllester (New York Magazine) notes them in his report on the continued assault on Iraq's LGBT population which observes:
As virulent as the violence against gay people (men mostly) was, it operated at a kind of low hum for many years, overshadowed by the country's myriad other problems. But in February of this year, something changed. There was no announcement, no fatwa, no openly declared policy by a cleric or militia leader or politician, but a wave of anti-gay hysteria hit the country. An Iraqi TV station, with disapproving commentary, showed a video of a group of perhaps two dozen young men at a private dance party, wiggling their hips like female belly dancers. Terms like the third sex and puppies, a newly coined slur, began to appear in hostile news reports. Shia and Sunni clerics started to preach in their Friday sermons about the evils of homosexuality and "the people of Lot." Police officers stepped up their harassment of openly gay men. Families and tribes cast out their gay relatives. The bodies of gay men like Mazen and Namir, often mutilated, began turning up on the street. There is no way to verify the number of tortured or harassed, but the best available estimates place that figure in the thousands. Hundreds of men are believed to have been killed.
Yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation (here for audio and transcript links) discussed the issue with Matt McAllester.
Neal Conan: As the conditions improved in Iraq, general security, the militias had time to start feeling that gay people were a real threat and punishing them.
Matt McAllester: Yeah. I'm not sure that they ever felt that they were a threat. I felt that there was, in a sense, there seemed to have been a lack of targets. American troops were armed, much less visible and much less numerous and really just aren't in the major cities in Iraq anymore. The government of Iraq is much stronger than military and police forces in Iraq. And the power of the militias has faded in terms of the civil war that was going on and really has been over for sometime. So some of the militias, one in particular, Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, which had been extremely powerful, had lost their sort of raison d'etre in their power base, and, in a sense, needed someone to pick on. And there was no more hated and is no more hated group across just about every ethnic barrier that you can think of and social group in Iraq than gay people. And --
Neal Conan: Yeah. You just described them as being utterly defenseless. There is no --
Matt McAllester: Mm-hmm.
Neal Conan: -- political advantage to anyone in Iraq for standing up for the rights of homosexuals.
Matt McAllester: That's right. I mean, it's incredibly difficult to get any comment from the Iraqi government about this. They're just not even comfortable talking about it. It took me several weeks, I think it was - certainly many days to get any response from the Iraqi embassy in Washington, and none that I get at all from emails that I sent to Iraqi government spokesman in Baghdad. Other journalists have had this problem in the past. It's not even something they're happy talking about it.
Nor is it something that the US State Dept or White House is "happy talking about" which is why they avoid the topic and are aided in that avoidance by a domestic press corps that finds the issue too 'icky' to bring up. (The one time the issue was seriously raised in a State Dept briefing, the correspondent pressing the issue was with BBC News.)
Matt McAllester and Neal Conan discuss "Nouri" (not his real name) and how he was not only targeted, not only kidnapped, but it was done by the Interior Ministry and he was taken to one of their prisons (they have many -- most 'off the books') where he was shown five corpses and told that was his fate if his family didn't pay a ransom.
Kidnapping is just another way to raise additional funds apparently. Richard Kerbaj (Times of London) reports how it "has overtaken burglaries, robberies, car theft and other crimes to become the biggest criminal activity in many areas of Baghdad, an investigation by The Times has discovered insurgents and gangsters are increasingly using abducted children to raise funds for terrorism operations and personal wealth." Kerbaj explains how posters of mmissing children have become common in Baghdad's richer neighborhoods while, in "unstable neighborhoods," "several children were found beheaded and dumped in the rubbish after their parents failed to come up with ransom payments." That was the fate of 11-year-old Muhsin Mohammed Muhsin whose parents were unable to raise "$100,000 in 48 hours".
That's 'liberated' and 'democratic' Iraq. Where children and the LGBT community (along with Iraqi Christians and many others) are targeted with nary a word from the US administration and little interest from the press. Grasp that despite all the money spent, it wasn't the Times of New York that reported on the kidnappings, it was the Times of London. The paper that sold the illegal war (Times of New York) seems to think that they deserve praise when they manage to do a violence brief once or twice a week -- the sort of thing Reuters does daily without breaking a sweat.
Though the US press largely lost interest in Iraq, US forces did not leave the country. And today the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Division-South died of a non-combat related injury October 6. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin." The announcement brings the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4349.
Since the start of the illegal war? Today US House Rep Dennis Kucinich observes, "Seven years ago this week the House of Representatives debated the Iraq War Resolution which was presented by President Bush. I made the case for NOT going to war. I analyzed the Bush war resolution, paragraph by paragraph, and pointed out 'Key Issues' which argued against Congress voting to go to war. I distributed the attached analysis, personally, to over 200 members of Congress from October 2, 2002 until October 10, 2002 when the vote occurred. When you hear people say: 'If only we had known then what we know now,' remember, some did know of the false case for war against Iraq. And since so many know now that we should not have gone to war against Iraq, then why are we still there?" A good question and we'll end the snapshot with Kucinich's list, but first.
As noted in yesterday's snapshot, protests took place in DC yesterday against the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, Guantanamo and US government torture policies. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan was present, protesting outside the White House where she was arrested. Kelly Marshall (CNN) notes Cindy observed "that President Obama has been in office long enough to start working towards peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that his supporters want him to make those changes." Marshall then notes xenophobic fat-boy Robert Gibbs issued some prattle. Left unstated was that Robert Gibbs was a huge, huge cheerleader for an Iraq War in 2002 and 2003. Brian Montopoli (Political Hotsheet, CBS News) notes Cindy was arrested "dressed all in black with the words 'greed kills' printed on her chest" after she chained "herself to a White House fence as part of a protest against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq." Garance Franke-Ruta (Washington Post) reports on Monday's protests here. Cindy (Cindy Sheehan's Soap Box) observes, "I had just walked back into my hotel room yesterday after chaining myself to the White House fence and being arrested, when I saw White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, say that removing troops from Afghanistan was 'not an option'. When I saw such a quick response to our protest, I was angry, of course, but I was also excited. First of all, when Obama said that we had to 'make him do it,' I knew Obama was just blowing smoke out of his hind end, like he blows cigarette smoke out of his mouth. Secondly, I know we are being heard and I have complete realistic hope that this is the time for US in the USA to make a difference." Yunji de Nies and Sunlen Miller (ABC News -- link has text and video) report on Cindy's announcement to move to DC and her protesting today and quote her stating, "We're going to create a movement that's going to demand a change of policy. It's going to be massive." How so? Cindy writes:
To that end, we are organizing the most ambitious anti-war, peace event ever. We are planning what we are calling, Peace of the Action which will be the largest, most aggressive and sustained action ever done in DC.
We are calling for 5000 people to commit to come to this Nation's Capitol to participate in daily civil resistance to stop "business as usual," because "business as usual" in this town is so corrupt and disordered.
We are not calling for this commitment for a day, a week, or a month. We are not even interested in making symbolic gestures. We are calling for this commitment until our demands of: All troops and para-military mercenaries, are ordered out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone bombings in the tribal regions of Af-Pak are discontinued and we get about the business of healing, reconciliation and REPARATIONS.
I am going to move to DC to help coordinate these actions and I will be 100% committed with you to be: "all in it to win it." This time true change will happen, it must.
An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy writes in "Why U.S. shouldn't Give Iraq the Blind Eye?" (Inside Iraq):
For all past years I have been against the presence of the U.S. troops in Iraq, and I still am. This war brought nothing but sorrow for families in both countries. But I think the U.S. government and the people of America shouldn't put Iraq in the dark far corner for good reasons, I believe.
Let the soldiers leave Iraq, let the country restore its national unity. Let it have its problems and solve them internally; let the country find its own way -- but don't let the people down.
Six years after the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Iraqi civilians are still the biggest casualty of war. Six years after what was supposed to be an easy swift and welcomed liberation, Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers are dying because of that invasion.
And the dying continues today throughout Iraq -- with most attention on an Amiriyah bombing. Anthony Shadid (Washington Post) reports 9 dead from the truck bombing "in front of a restaurant" in which "the explosion was so powerful that corpses were hurled onto the roofs of neighboring buildings. The victims appeared to be civilians, police and members of Sons of Iraq [Sahwa, "Awakenings"], a U.S.-backed militia that fought the insurgency in 2007 and 2008." Xinhua adds that thirty-one people were wounded. Fadhel al-Badrani, Tim Cocks and Andrew Dobbie (Reuters) provide this context: "It was the second big bomb in the large, desert province in as many days. On Monday, a suicide bomber walked into an Iraqi funeral tent and blew himself up in the western town of Haditha, killing at least six mourners."
That was far from the only violence today in Iraq. Bombings?
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 1 life and left six people injured, another Baghdad bombing (on a blast wall) which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier and left four people injured, a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people and, dropping back to Monday, notes a Basra liquor store was bombed.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a robbery at a Basra currency exchange today in which 2 people (owner and employee) were killed, a third person was wounded and $150,000 was stolen.
We're low on space. Adam Lictenheld and Byron Moore (DC Bureau) are examining contractors and the way they US service members lives were risked in Iraq and a four-part series entitled "No Contractor Left Behind." Click here for part one. DC Bureau notes:
Using videotaped depositions from KBR workers and internal company documents, No Contractor Left Behind shows KBR knew about the presence of sodium dichromate at Qarmat Ali early in 2003, but failed -- even after repeated warnings from its own safety managers -- to properly notify KBR employees and military personnel. When the company finally performed an environmental evaluation of Qarmat Ali it found extremely toxic levels of the chemical at the facility. Yet KBR has continued to deny that it recklessly exposed U.S. troops to the deadly poison.
The Defense Department also tried to downplay soldiers' concerns that their health problems are a direct result of their exposure at Qarmat Ali. The Army has relied on a faulty medical test performed on its National Guardsmen back in 2003 - a test that a leading sodium dichromate expert told DCBureau.org was inadequate. The Department of Veterans Affairs has used these findings to deny health coverage to sick veterans.
Congress, meanwhile, has entrusted the Qarmat Ali probe -- and the slew of contracting scandals that have plagued the Pentagon over the past half-decade - to the Democratic Policy Committee (DPC). But the DPC lacks the power to subpoena documents and compel testimony, rendering it unable to conduct a full investigation. Despite Qarmat Ali being the most recent controversy in a string of accusations against KBR including contracting fraud, bribery, wrongful death, sexual assault, and shoddy work that has killed several soldiers, KBR remains the Army's largest war contractor.
Regarding the DPC, the point is valid and it's one Kat's made her site repeatedly.
We'll close with US House Rep Dennis Kucinich's "Analysis of Joint Resolution on Iraq" from October 2, 2002 (a) because Dennis has a right to say "I was right" and (b) he appears to be the only one who remembers this took place seven years ago:
Whereas in 1990 in response to Iraq's war of aggression against and illegal occupation of Kuwait, the United States forged a coalition of nations to liberate Kuwait and its people in order to defend the national security of the United States and enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Iraq;
KEY ISSUE: In the Persian Gulf War there was an international coalition. World support was for protecting Kuwait. There is no world support for invading Iraq.
Whereas after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Iraq entered into a United Nations sponsored cease-fire agreement pursuant to which Iraq unequivocally agreed, among other things, to eliminate its nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs and the means to deliver and develop them, and to end its support for international terrorism;
Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;
KEY ISSUE: UN inspection teams identified and destroyed nearly all such weapons. A lead inspector, Scott Ritter, said that he believes that nearly all other weapons not found were destroyed in the Gulf War. Furthermore, according to a published report in the Washington Post, the Central Intelligence Agency has no up to date accurate report on Iraq's WMD capabilities.
Whereas Iraq, in direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire, attempted to thwart the efforts of weapons inspectors to identify and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction stockpiles and development capabilities, which finally resulted in the withdrawal of inspectors from Iraq on October 31, 1998;
KEY ISSUE: Iraqi deceptions always failed. The inspectors always figured out what Iraq was doing. It was the United States that withdrew from the inspections in 1998. And the United States then launched a cruise missile attack against Iraq 48 hours after the inspectors left. In advance of a military strike, the US continues to thwart (the Administration's word) weapons inspections.
Whereas in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in "material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations" and urged the President "to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations" (Public Law 105-235);
Whereas Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations;
KEY ISSUE: There is no proof that Iraq represents an imminent or immediate threat to the United States. A "continuing" threat does not constitute a sufficient cause for war. The Administration has refused to provide the Congress with credible intelligence that proves that Iraq is a serious threat to the United States and is continuing to possess and develop chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. Furthermore there is no credible intelligence connecting Iraq to Al Qaida and 9/11.
Whereas Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait;
KEY ISSUE: This language is so broad that it would allow the President to order an attack against Iraq even when there is no material threat to the United States. Since this resolution authorizes the use of force for all Iraq related violations of the UN Security Council directives, and since the resolution cites Iraq's imprisonment of non-Iraqi prisoners, this resolution would authorize the President to attack Iraq in order to liberate Kuwaiti citizens who may or may not be in Iraqi prisons, even if Iraq met compliance with all requests to destroy any weapons of mass destruction. Though in 2002 at the Arab Summit, Iraq and Kuwait agreed to bilateral negotiations to work out all claims relating to stolen property and prisoners of war. This use-of-force resolution enables the President to commit US troops to recover Kuwaiti property.
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people;
Whereas the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council;
KEY ISSUE: The Iraqi regime has never attacked nor does it have the capability to attack the United States. The "no fly" zone was not the result of a UN Security Council directive. It was illegally imposed by the United States, Great Britain and France and is not specifically sanctioned by any Security Council resolution.
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;
KEY ISSUE: There is no credible intelligence that connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to participation in those events by assisting Al Qaida.
Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens;
KEY ISSUE: Any connection between Iraq support of terrorist groups in the Middle East, is an argument for focusing great resources on resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not sufficient reason for the US to launch a unilateral preemptive strike against Iraq.
Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;
KEY ISSUE: There is no connection between Iraq and the events of 9/11.
Whereas Iraq's demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify action by the United States to defend itself;
KEY ISSUE: There is no credible evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. If Iraq has successfully concealed the production of such weapons since 1998, there is no credible evidence that Iraq has the capability to reach the United States with such weapons. In the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had a demonstrated capability of biological and chemical weapons, but did not have the willingness to use them against the United States Armed Forces. Congress has not been provided with any credible information, which proves that Iraq has provided international terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.
Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 authorizes the use of all necessary means to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 and subsequent relevant resolutions and to compel Iraq to cease certain activities that threaten international peace and security, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and refusal or obstruction of United Nations weapons inspections in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, repression of its civilian population in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, and threatening its neighbors or United Nations operations in Iraq in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 949;
KEY ISSUE: The UN Charter forbids all member nations, including the United States, from unilaterally enforcing UN resolutions.
Whereas Congress in the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1) has authorized the President "to use United States Armed Forces pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 678 (1990) in order to achieve implementation of Security Council Resolutions 660, 661, 662, 664, 665, 666, 667, 669, 670, 674, and 677";
KEY ISSUE: The UN Charter forbids all member nations, including the United States, from unilaterally enforcing UN resolutions with military force.
Whereas in December 1991, Congress expressed its sense that it "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 as being consistent with the Authorization of Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1)," that Iraq's repression of its civilian population violates United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 and "constitutes a continuing threat to the peace, security, and stability of the Persian Gulf region," and that Congress, "supports the use of all necessary means to achieve the goals of United Nations Security Council Resolution 688";
KEY ISSUE: This clause demonstrates the proper chronology of the international process, and contrasts the current march to war. In 1991, the UN Security Council passed a resolution asking for enforcement of its resolution. Member countries authorized their troops to participate in a UN-led coalition to enforce the UN resolutions. Now the President is asking Congress to authorize a unilateral first strike before the UN Security Council has asked its member states to enforce UN resolutions.
Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act (Public Law 105-338) expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime;
KEY ISSUE: This "Sense of Congress" resolution was not binding. Furthermore, while Congress supported democratic means of removing Saddam Hussein it clearly did not endorse the use of force contemplated in this resolution, nor did it endorse assassination as a policy.
Whereas on September 12, 2002, President Bush committed the United States to "work with the United Nations Security Council to meet our common challenge" posed by Iraq and to "work for the necessary resolutions," while also making clear that "the Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable";
Whereas the United States is determined to prosecute the war on terrorism and Iraq's ongoing support for international terrorist groups combined with its development of weapons of mass destruction in direct violation of its obligations under the 1991 cease-fire and other United Nations Security Council resolutions make clear that it is in the national security interests of the United States and in furtherance of the war on terrorism that all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions be enforced, including through the use of force if necessary;
KEY ISSUE: Unilateral action against Iraq will cost the United States the support of the world community, adversely affecting the war on terrorism. No credible intelligence exists which connects Iraq to the events of 9/11 or to those terrorists who perpetrated 9/11. Under international law, the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally order military action to enforce UN Security Council resolutions.
Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such persons or organizations;
KEY ISSUE: The Administration has not provided Congress with any proof that Iraq is in any way connected to the events of 9/11.
Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;
KEY ISSUE: The Administration has not provided Congress with any proof that Iraq is in any way connected to the events of 9/11. Furthermore, there is no credible evidence that Iraq has harbored those who were responsible for planning, authorizing or committing the attacks of 9/11.
Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40); and
KEY ISSUE: This resolution was specific to 9/11. It was limited to a response to 9/11.
Whereas it is in the national security of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region;
KEY ISSUE: If by the "national security interests" of the United States, the Administration means oil, it ought to communicate such to the Congress. A unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States will cause instability and chaos in the region and sow the seeds of future conflicts all other the world.
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SEC. 1. SHORT TITLE.
This joint resolution may be cited as the "Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq".
SEC. 2. SUPPORT FOR UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS
The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to-
(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and
(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
KEY ISSUE: Congress can and should support this clause. However Section 3 (which follows) undermines the effectiveness of this section. Any peaceful settlement requires Iraq compliance. The totality of this resolution indicates the Administration will wage war against Iraq no matter what. This undermines negotiations.
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1)defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2)enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
KEY ISSUE: This clause is substantially similar to the authorization that the President originally sought.
It gives authority to the President to act prior to and even without a UN resolution, and it authorizes the President to use US troops to enforce UN resolutions even without UN request for it. This is a violation of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which reserves the ability to authorize force for that purpose to the Security Council, alone.
Under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, "The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace... and shall make recommendations to maintain or restore international peace and security." (Article 39). Only the Security Council can decide that military force would be necessary, "The Security Council may decide what measures... are to be employed to give effect to its decisions (Article 41) ... [and] it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security." (Article 43). Furthermore, the resolution authorizes use of force illegally, since the UN Security Council has not requested it. According to the UN Charter, members of the UN, such as the US, are required to "make available to the Security Council, on its call and in accordance with a special agreement or agreements, armed forces..." (Article 43, emphasis added). The UN Security Council has not called upon its members to use military force against Iraq at the current time.
Furthermore, changes to the language of the previous use-of-force resolution, drafted by the White House and objected to by many members of Congress, are cosmetic:
In section (1), the word "continuing" was added to "the threat posed by Iraq".
In section (2), the word "relevant" is added to "United Nations Security Council Resolutions" and the words "regarding "Iraq" were added to the end.
While these changes are represented as a compromise or a new material development, the effects of this resolution are largely the same as the previous White House proposal.
The UN resolutions, which could be cited by the President to justify sending US troops to Iraq, go far beyond addressing weapons of mass destruction. These could include, at the President's discretion, such "relevant" resolutions "regarding Iraq" including resolutions to enforce human rights and the recovery of Kuwaiti property.
In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and
(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against 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.
(c) WAR POWERS RESOLUTION REQUIREMENTS. -
(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION. - Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.
(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS. - Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS
(a) The President shall, at least once every 60 days, submit to the Congress a report on matters relevant to this joint resolution, including actions taken pursuant to the exercise of authority granted in section 2 and the status of planning for efforts that are expected to be required after such actions are completed, including those actions described in section 7 of Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998).
(b) To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of Public Law 93-148 (the War Powers Resolution), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.
(c) To the extent that the information required by section 3 of Public Law 102-1 is included in the report required by this section, such report shall be considered as meeting the requirements of section 3 of Public Law 102-1.
Dennis J Kucinich
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