Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Iran and Congress' Power to Declare War

When the White House's plans to attack Iran were highlighted by, among other things, advance word and early release of Sy Hersh's "The Redirection" in the New Yorker's March 5, 2007 issue, a number of Democrats said that if Bush attacked Iran that this would be the last straw and that they would move for impeachment. John Conyers was one of these people. You can hear him say this here. To which Cindy Sheehan said: "What are we supposed to do, hope that Bush attacks Iran so we can impeach him?"

Recall that this Congress was elected with a clear mandate from the voters in November 2006 to end the war on Iraq. Several weeks ago Newsweek published its January 2007 poll showing that 58% of the American people wish that the Bush administration was "simply over." Now what have our esteemed Congressional representatives done with this mandate and the will of the people?

See the following piece from the AP. Congress, which has the power, the sole power according to the Constitution, to declare war, has decided not to "tie the hands" of the President should he decide to launch a war on Iran. In fact, in order to "concentrate" on trying to end the existing war with Iraq, Congress wants to give Bush a free hand to launch yet another war!

Congress may as well commit hari kiri and dismiss itself since we wouldn't want to do anything like prevent the President from going to war whenever and where ever he deems fit, do we? Why, that would be giving into the terrorists who want to destroy our way of life! Better that we destroy our "way of life" before anyone else does! Now that's the American way!

From Chapter 9 of ITP by Barbara Bowley:

"Bush has mused out loud think that it would be better if he were a 'dictator.' But the aggressive, behind-the-scenes strategy to concentrate nearly all power in the Executive Branch and make it unaccountable to any vestiges of democratic monitoring is more than the product of the efforts of a power-hungry administration. The general trend towards stripping Congress of most of its power (including especially its constitutional right to declare war) predates Bush and Cheney and reflects the exigencies of an imperialist superpower bent on having its way in the world, irrespective of what 'the people' want. What we see in the Bush/Cheney regime is a great heightening of this general trend and open defiance of any Congressional attempts to monitor and investigate. Like the proverbial frog in the pot story where if you were to drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it would immediately jump out but if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly warm it up the frog will be cooked before it knows what hit it, the American people and 'rule of law' have been getting the heat turned up on them."

Dems Abandon War Authority Provision
By David Espo and Matthew Lee
The Associated Press

Tuesday 13 March 2007

Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.

Officials said Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the leadership had decided to strip from a major military spending bill a requirement for Bush to gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.

The developments occurred as Democrats pointed toward an initial test vote in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday on the overall bill, which would require the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by Sept. 1, 2008, if not earlier. The measure provides nearly $100 billion to pay for fighting in two wars, and includes more money than the president requested for operations in Afghanistan and what Democrats called training and equipment shortages.

The White House has issued a veto threat against the bill, and Vice President Dick Cheney attacked its supporters in a speech, declaring they "are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out."

House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio issued a statement that said Democrats shouldn't count on any help passing their legislation. "Republicans will continue to stand united in this debate, and will oppose efforts by Democrats to undermine the ability of General Petraeus and our troops to achieve victory in the Global War on Terror," he said.

Top Democrats had a different perspective.

Pelosi issued a written statement that said the vice president's remarks prove that "the administration's answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement that America was less safe today because of the war. The president "must change course, and it's time for the Senate to demand he do it," he added.

The Iran-related proposal stemmed from a desire to make sure Bush did not launch an attack without going to Congress for approval, but drew opposition from numerous members of the rank and file in a series of closed-door sessions last week.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., said in an interview there is widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state.

"It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran," she said of the now-abandoned provision.

"I didn't think it was a very wise idea to take things off the table if you're trying to get people to modify their behavior and normalize it in a civilized way," said Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York.

Several officials said there was widespread opposition to the proposal at a closed-door meeting last week of conservative and moderate Democrats, who said they feared tying the hands of the administration when dealing with an unpredictable and potentially hostile regime in Tehran.

Public opinion has swung the way of Democrats on the issue of the war. More than six in 10 Americans think the conflict was a mistake - the largest number yet found in AP-Ipsos polling.

But Democrats have struggled to find a compromise that can satisfy both liberals who oppose any funding for the military effort and conservatives who do not want to unduly restrict the commander in chief.

"This supplemental should be about supporting the troops and providing what they need," said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., on Monday upon returning from a trip to Iraq. Boren said he plans to oppose any legislation setting a clear deadline for troops to leave.

In his speech, Cheney chided lawmakers who are pressing for tougher action on Iran to oppose the president on the Iraq War.

"It is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace posed by the Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies dramatically emboldened and Israel's best friend, the United States, dangerously weakened," he said.

No comments: