Democrats Seek to Gut Iraq War Permit

Vowing to handcuff Bush's power to wage war in Iraq, prominent US Democrats are aiming now to repeal the 2002 congressional authorization permitting Bush to go to war as they challenge his last-ditch surge of 21,500 troops into Iraq.

Democrats Seek to Gut Iraq War Permit

"We gave him the authority to take out weapons of mass destruction which never existed, take down Saddam who is dead, and force compliance to UN resolutions that are already enforced," Democratic Senator Joseph Biden was quoted by the Times as saying.

"This president's policy is driving us into a box canyon, we have got to redefine the mission," he said.

The Democratic leader in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, has thrown his weight behind Biden's idea of rewriting the war authorization.

The paper said that Democrats are expected to review it Tuesday, February 27, at their policy luncheon, their first formal gathering after returning from recess.

Draft plans would seek to limit the US mission in Iraq to battling terrorists, guarding Iraq's borders and training Iraqi troops, a congressional source said.

The legislation will also call for a pullout of US combat troops from Iraq by March 2008 — in line with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group last year.

Senator Carl Levin said the authorization had been overtaken by events.

"One thought is that we should limit the mission to a support mission -- in other words, an antiterrorist mission to go after Al-Qaeda in Iraq, to support and train the Iraqi army, to protect our own diplomatic personnel and other personnel in Iraq," he said.

The 2002 joint resolution of Congress authorizes Bush to use US troops as he determines necessary and appropriate to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq."

It also says troops can be used to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

Consensus

But Democrats acknowledge that they are in a sticky situation as they try to map out a strategy that will appease the antiwar left, which is pushing for conditions on war financing, without alienating moderate Democrats and Republicans who fear being painted as unsupportive of the troops, the Times reported.

"We're going to come back, regroup, find a consensus position," a senior House Democratic aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"People are unhappy with the war. We have to conduct oversight. We have to push the president in a new direction. We have to find a way to do that that makes the caucus comfortable, and I think we can."

Senator Jim Webb of Virginia told the paper that Democrats had agreed that Congress must reassert its authority, but they had not yet figured out precisely how to do it.

The move is the latest attempt by Democrats, who grabbed control of Congress last year, to curtail Bush's war powers, and end US involvement in a war in which 3,100 US troops have lost their lives.

Analysts say the new Democratic plan could spark an unprecedented showdown between Congress and the president over lawmakers capacity to shape military and foreign policy.

The White House said it would "of course" fight any move to curtail Bush's powers, and argued US forces were in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad and authorized by the United Nations.

"The authorization in the Security Council resolution is clear," White House deputy spokesman Tony Fratto said.

Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell dared Democrats to take the politically dangerous step of withhold funding for the war, even when troops are in combat.

"You can't unring a bell," McConnell told reporters when asked about Democratic plans to adjust the authorization.

Though Senate Democrats have struggled to rebuke Bush, their counterparts in the House of Representatives have been more successful: a non-binding resolution criticizing Bush's war plan passed last week by a 246-182 vote.

Democrats have already failed to pile up the necessary 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to enforce debate on a non-binding resolution opposing Bush's surge plan announced last month.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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