I’m buried under this morning at the 8-5 but wanted to pass this story along to you for discussion purposes. The Senate Dems are working hard this week to undermine the mission by crafting a resolution that would ‘repeal’ the 2002 Iraq war authorization in order to begin withdrawing our troops from Iraq:
Senate Democratic leaders intend to unveil a plan next week to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in favor of narrower authority that restricts the military’s role and begins withdrawals of combat troops.
House Democrats have pulled back from efforts to link additional funding for the war to strict troop-readiness standards after the proposal came under withering fire from Republicans and from their party’s own moderates. That strategy was championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“If you strictly limit a commander’s ability to rotate troops in and out of Iraq, that kind of inflexibility could put some missions and some troops at risk,” said Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who personally lodged his concerns with Murtha.
In both chambers, Democratic lawmakers are eager to take up binding legislation that would impose clear limits on U.S. involvement in Iraq after nearly four years of war. But Democrats remain divided over how to proceed. Some want to avoid the funding debate altogether, fearing it would invite Republican charges that the party is not supporting the troops. Others take a more aggressive view, believing the most effective way to confront President Bush’s war policy is through a $100 billion war-spending bill that the president ultimately must sign to keep the war effort on track.
Last week, the House approved a nonbinding resolution that criticized Bush’s decision to deploy an additional 21,500 troops, but the measure was blocked in the Senate by Republicans during a rare Saturday session. It is probable that Senate Democrats will encounter the same procedural roadblock in attempting to push through another resolution, in particular one with real teeth.
“I’ve had enough of ‘nonbinding,’ ” said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who is helping to draft the new Democratic proposal. The 2002 war resolution, he said, is an obvious target.
“The authorization that we gave the president back in 2002 is completely, completely outdated, inappropriate to what we’re engaged in today,” he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) began calling for a reauthorization of the war early last month and raised it again last week, during a gathering in the office of Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Participants included Kerry, Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (Mich.), Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.). Those Democratic senators have emerged as an unofficial war council representing the caucus’s wide range of views.
“We gave the president that power to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein,” Biden said of the 2002 resolution in a speech last week before the Brookings Institution. “The WMD was not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.”
The blowback from Democratic moderates came after John Murtha made the mistake of being honest about his intentions on an anti-war website. He wrote that the only purpose of his so-called readiness requirements was to cripple the President’s ability to deploy troops into and around Iraq, which started making the rounds through the blogosphere and into the mainstream media last week. Murtha’s “slow bleed” plan would have forced the Pentagon to either undersupport the troops in the field, including sending fresh replacements for exhauted units, or to surrender altogether — two options that infuriated Democrats already facing tough questions back home about the influence of the hard Left on their party.
Now the Senate wants to introduce a replacement for the existing AUMF that would limit the use of troops in a different way, but with similar results. It forces an end to the deployment of combat brigades by March 31, 2008, the date proposed by the Iraq Study Group, and afterwards restricts American operations in Iraq to training, border security, and counterterrorism. It would require the White House to certify that any offensive operation in Iraq directly targeted al-Qaeda rather than sectarian Iraqi militias or insurgencies — and would set up a potential impeachment scenario if the President failed to make the case before any operation began.
This is a textbook case of micromanaging a war. Instead of taking the one option open to Congress — defunding the war effort — they have decided to override the Constitution by setting themselves above the President in the chain of command. They understand that a defunding effort would unmask them as defeatists and retreatists while American troops face the terrorists, especially in Anbar. Even Joe Biden understands that much.
Nor are they opting for an honest method of floating this unconstitutional nonsense. The Democrats plan to attach the reworked AUMF as an amendment to a Homeland Security funding bill rather than allow an up-or-down vote on it in the Senate. They want to dare the Republicans to filibuster the spending bill or Bush to veto it if it passes with the new AUMF intact. They’re playing games with the funds necessary to secure the nation during a time of war — and they expect to be taken seriously on how to conduct one?
Well, as long as it placates their rabid anti-war base, I doubt they even care.
I’ll check back in later today when I’m not so swamped.