Hon. Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives & Joe Garofoli / The San Francisco Chronicle – 2015-03-20 22:53:47
ACTION ALERT: Repeal the
2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force
Hon. Barbara Lee / US House of Representatives
(March 20, 2015) — In September 2001, in the wake of 9/11 and the tremendous pressure to support war, I stood up and cast the lone ‘no’ vote. Now, 14 years later, we’re still using that authorization to wage endless war in the Middle East. It’s clear there are many real threats to the region, but continuing to use the AUMF to deploy troops is wrong.
Our effort to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is gaining momentum. From the hard questions lobbed at administration officials during last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, to strongly-worded editorials from progressive blogs, conservative blogs and main-stream news outlets, the American people are more committed than ever to avoiding the path we went down 14 years ago.
Today, Congress is training a more skeptical eye on the Administration’s request for an AUMF. We must use this skepticism to build momentum for repealing the original blank check, once in for all.
ACTION: Help us build that momentum. Tell Congress: We must repeal the AUMF in 2015.
We, the undersigned, call on Congress to repeal this blank check for war.
Member of Congress
Once a Lonely Voice, Rep. Barbara Lee
Looks Back at Costs of War
Joe Garofoli / The San Francisco Chronicle
(March 19, 2013) — On the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, there’s really only one DC politician worth hearing from: Oakland’s own Rep. Barbara Lee.
The Democrat was the ONLY member of Congress not to authorize President George W. Bush to use force in the war on terror. She cast that vote just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when support for war was high. Even a decade ago, on the eve of the “shock and awe” start of the Iraq invasion, 70 percent of Americans supported the war.
Now, only 38 percent think invading Iraq was a good idea, according to an ABC News poll. 58 percent say it wasn’t worth fighting.
Lee’s 2001 vote was unique in that she took a moral stand in our era of partisan political groupthink at the toughest time to do so. In 2002, when it came time to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq, Sen. Barbara Boxer voted against it, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein voted to give Bush that power.
The results are clear from a decade in Iraq:
* 4,487 Americans soldiers dead.
* At least 120,000 Iraqi civilians killed.
* More than 32,000 US personnel wounded, many with multiple, long-lasting disabilities that affect not only them but their caregivers.
* Cost of the war: $1.7 trillion.
Here’s Lee, whose father served for 25 years in the military:
“We were told we would find weapons of mass destruction. We were warned about mushroom clouds. I offered an amendment at the time that would have taken us down a different path. It would have required the US to work through the United Nations, using inspectors and maximizing diplomacy and mediation to ensure that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction.
“Unfortunately the amendment failed, by a vote 72-355.
“What happened from there? We all know the tragic consequences: President Bush dragged the country into an unnecessary war; no weapons of mass destruction were ever found; the costs of the Iraq war soared far beyond what was projected; and we lost 4,486 American troops in Iraq, and over 32,000 were wounded.
“Ten years later, the full consequences and costs of the Iraq war remain to be seen. According to a new study by the Watson Institute at Brown University, the war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion in benefits owed to our war veterans. And the long term costs including caring for our veterans, which we must do, could grow to more than $6 trillion over the next four decades.
“Most importantly, we’ve paid for this war most tragically in loss of life and injury. Fighting the war in Iraq has also undercut nation building here at home. Investments we should have been making in job creation, educating our kids, putting cops on the street, and rebuilding our aging infrastructure.
Instead of nation building at home, we poured billions of dollars into nation building in Iraq with little oversight or accountability.
“The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued its final report to Congress last month detailing billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse. Speaking with an Iraqi official, Special Inspector Stuart Bowen was told, “You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad, but you cannot point a finger to a single project that was built and completed by the United States.”
“Unfortunately, these lost opportunities and tragic mistakes are not behind us.
“As the daughter of a 25-year veteran of the armed forces, I am incredibly thankful for the sacrifices our women and men have made in Iraq, and continue to make in Afghanistan. I am also deeply concerned with the widespread, often undiagnosed, incidents of PTSD and the alarming suicide rates amongst our returning soldiers.
“We need to honor our troops who served and show our support by giving our men and women who served the best health care, the best educational opportunities, and the best job training available. They deserve nothing less.
“It is my hope that this reckless and short-sighted decision will mark a turning point in American history, and that we will never again wage an unnecessary war. We must use all the tools of American power in resolving disputes, including diplomacy. And we must have sufficient congressional debate and oversight before ever putting another US solider in harm’s way.
“Finally, just like in Iraq, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. We need to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated end, and bring our troops home now.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in expressing this sentiment during a different war said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities of a decent America.”
“Let us put this decade of perpetual warfare behind us, invest in our veterans, our children, and get about the business of nation building here at home.”
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