Obama Considers Repealing Law that Authorized US Attack on Iraq

January 7th, 2014 - by admin

AntiWar.com & Yahoo News – 2014-01-07 23:10:03

Obama: Repeal Iraq War Authorization

Obama: Repeal Iraq War Authorization
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

WASHINGTON (January 7, 2014) — White House officials say that President Obama is in favor of Congressional action to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq, the law, which green-lit the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The last US occupation forces left Iraq in 2011, and Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) tried back then to repeal the authorization unsuccessfully. Administration officials say that since the war is over they have no objection to repealing, but they also say it isn’t a “top priority”.

The law may seem on the surface to be little more than an historical curiosity at this point, but while it makes heavy reference to not liking Saddam Hussein, the language of the law simply allows the president to invade Iraq “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate.”

The recent internal conflicts in Iraq, including al-Qaeda’s capture of the entire city of Fallujah, have hawks calling for the US to “save” the Maliki government militarily, and the AUMF effectively means that if the president had a mind to, he could reinvade Iraq at a moment’s notice on any pretext.

Obama Backs Repeal of Law
That Green-lighted Iraq War

Olivier Knox / Yahoo News

The law that green-lighted the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq is still on the books — but maybe not for much longer if President Barack Obama has his way, the White House said on Tuesday, two years after he declared the war officially over.

“The Administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF,” national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told Yahoo News, referring to the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Obama frequently cites the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as one of his key foreign policy successes. He has repeatedly defended the pull-out, even as he pursues a strategy to leave only a residual force of maybe 8,000 to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014. His administration recently promised it would not put boots back on the ground in Iraq in response to the current bloody chaos that threatens its stability.

But leaving the Iraq military force authorization in place could probably come in handy if he, or a future president, wanted to send troops in.

The last serious attempt to roll back the law came in late 2011, when Sen. Rand Paul, R.-Ky., introduced an amendment to do so. On Nov. 29 of that year, the measure failed in a lopsided 67-30 vote with three lawmakers not voting. Senators of both parties told Yahoo News at the time that the White House had opposed repeal.

And when Obama laid out plans for overhauling the post-9/11 national security mechanisms in a May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, he promised to work with Congress to rewrite the AUMF for Afghanistan — but was silent on the Iraq War law.

But “the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and we therefore would fully support any move to repeal it,” a senior administration official told Yahoo News on Tuesday. “However, we have not prioritized proactively seeking to repeal it, because the effect would be entirely symbolic and we have many more pressing priorities to take up with Congress.”

Yahoo News had been asking the White House since a briefing with press secretary Jay Carney on June 13, 2012, to explain the president’s position on repealing the military force authorization. Officials declined to do so until Tuesday.

This is not to say that Obama had slyly been planning to send U.S. forces back into Iraq. He’s been clear, throughout his 2012 campaign and today, that he’s not interested in doing that. And there’s zero evidence that the U.S. public, and therefore, Congress has any appetite for Iraq War Version 2.0.

(Tip o’ the hat to independent national security writer Marcy Wheeler, who has been following this issue for a long time.)

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