Ending the AUMF

June 22nd, 2021 - by Charles Pierce / Esquire

History has vindicated Barbara Lee and the 23 senators who voted against the 2002 AUMF.

288,000 Iraqis Would Be Happy to Hear This.
If They Were Alive.

Charles Pierce / Esquire

 (June 21, 2021) — Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California) did not want to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force. She didn’t want to do it in 2001, when the Congress authorized him to use military force in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. She didn’t want to do it in 2002, when the Congress authorized him to use military force in Iraq on the shabby pretense that there was some threadbare connection there to the 9/11 attacks.

On Thursday, Barbara Lee finally won a partial victory in her struggle against the blunders of the previous worst Republican president ever. From NPR:
California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee — who in 2001 and 2002 voted against two war power measures passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks — was the sponsor of the repeal bill. The plan would end the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, that greenlighted then-President George W. Bush’s plans to invade Iraq.
“It’s been such a long time coming,” Lee said ahead of Thursday’s vote. “It’s Congress’ responsibility to authorize the use of force, and that authorization cannot be blank checks that stay as authorizations for any administration to use the way they see fit.”
Lee’s legislation has drawn growing bipartisan support. Her repeal of the 2002 authority, which was issued Oct. 16 of that year, has more than 130 cosponsors now.

The 2001 AUMF relating to Afghanistan remains in force, although Lee and other members of Congress have their eyes on that prize, too. But the 2002 version really did take place during scoundrel days in Washington. The Avignon Presidency at that time was spoiling for a war with Iraq. Evidence was flimsy, where it wasn’t speculative, where it wasn’t guesswork, where it wasn’t simply manufactured.

The phantom meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence officer and the leader of the 9/11 hijackers. Yellowcake from Niger. Colin Powell’s disgraceful puppet show at the United Nations. Lagoons of poison. Balsa-wood gliders violating US airspace and dropping anthrax bombs over the Eastern seaboard.

Dick Cheney lying his ass off on Meet The Press about aluminum tubes, quoting a New York Times report that his administration had created and planted with a pliant reporter.

And, finally, an utterly supine Congress featuring a whole host of Democrats who believed that voting against the AUMF would poison their chances at a run for president: Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, and yes, Joe Biden. The vote in the Senate was 77-23. Bipartisanship! 

Ultimately, history has awarded the decision to Barbara Lee and those 23 senators. Here in 2021, Congress seems ready to do the same. There are almost 300,000 Iraqis who would be happy to hear this, if they were still alive, which they’re not.

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