Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002

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The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (House Joint Resolution 114) was signed October 16, 2002, as Public Law 107-243 by President George W. Bush.[1]

On Thursday, October 10, 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 296-133[2] and, on Friday, October 11, 2002, the U.S. Senate voted 77-23 to "authorize President Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to give up weapons of mass destruction as required by U.N. resolutions."[3]

The resolution required President Bush "to declare to Congress either before or within 48 hours after beginning military action that diplomatic efforts to enforce the U.N. resolutions have failed."[4]

The resolution required Bush to "certify that action against Iraq would not hinder efforts to pursue the al Qaeda terrorist network" that attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001. It also required the Bush administration "to report to Congress on the progress of any war with Iraq every 60 days."[5]


Contents

Congressional Action

Roll Call Vote

Support for the Resolution

In the House of Representatives, a "total of 215 Republicans and 81 Democrats voted for" the resolution.[6] With the exception of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), all Republicans in the Senate voted for passage of the resolution.[7]

Republicans

  • Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), House Majority Whip: said "Only regime change can remove the danger from Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Only by taking them out of his hands and destroying them can we be certain that terror weapons won't wind up in the hands of terrorists"[8] and that "Saddam Hussein is seeking the means to murder millions in just a single moment. He's trying to extend that grip of fear beyond his own borders and he is consumed with hatred for America."[9]
  • Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): said "United States needs to move before Saddam can develop a more advanced arsenal."[10]

Democrats

  • Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): "Confront Saddam Hussein now, or pay a much heavier price later ... The idea of Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon is too horrifying to contemplate, too terrifying to tolerate."[11]
  • Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Senate Majority Leader: "raised concerns throughout the debate about Bush politicizing national security"[13] but backed Bush and said "it is important for the country 'to speak with one voice at this critical moment' [and that] Iraq's weapons programs 'may not be imminent. But it is real. It is growing. And it cannot be ignored.' However, he urged Bush to move 'in a way that avoids making a dangerous situation even worse.'" He also "expressed reservations about a possible U.S. attack on Iraq, and he was not part of an agreement between the White House and other congressional leaders framing the resolution ...."[14]
  • Sen. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Minority Leader: "said giving Bush the authority to attack Iraq could avert war by demonstrating the United States is willing to confront Saddam over his obligations to the United Nations."[15]

Opposition to the Resolution

In the Senate, the vote "sharply divided" Democrats; 29 voted for and 21 against.[17] In the House of Representatives, Hispanic Democrats voted "against the resolution, as did all but four of 31 African American Democrats who voted."[18]

Republicans

The following Republican members of the House of Representatives "joined 126 Democrats in voting against the resolution."[19]

Democrats

  • Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.): "voted no after learning in a military briefing ... that U.S. soldiers do not have adequate protection against biological weapons. 'As a veteran, that's what hit me the hardest,' Baca said. 'Would you send someone, knowing they're going to be killed?'"[20]
  • Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.): "talked on the House floor about what turned out to be the real issues in Iraq. She spoke of the 'postwar challenges,' saying that 'there is no history of democratic government in Iraq,' that its 'economy and infrastructure is in ruins after years of war and sanctions' and that rebuilding would take 'a great deal of money.' [and asked] 'Are we prepared to keep 100,000 or more troops in Iraq to maintain stability there? If we don't, will a new regime emerge? If we don't, will Iran become the dominant power in the Middle East? . . . If we don't, will Islamic fundamentalists take over Iraq?'"[21]
  • Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.): "attempted Thursday to mount a filibuster against the resolution but was cut off on a 75 to 25 vote." Byrd "argued the resolution amounted to a 'blank check' for the White House."[23]
  • Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.): said "The power to declare war is the most solemn responsibility given to Congress by the Constitution. We must not delegate that responsibility to the president in advance."[24]
  • Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio): said "Congress and the administration were being driven by fear"[25] and that "the 133 votes against the measure were 'a very strong message' to the administration."[26]
  • Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wisc.): "spoke then about poor preparation for postwar Iraq"[27]
  • Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.): "stress[ed] the need for 'a plan for rebuilding of the Iraqi government and society, if the worst comes to pass and armed conflict is necessary.'"[28]
  • Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee: "predicted during the House floor debate that 'the outcome after the conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less certain.'"[29]

Amendment Attempts to the Resolution

An amendment to the resolution by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, "that would have limited U.S. military action to enforcing a new U.N. resolution to eliminate Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs" was "turned back" by "supporters of the White House measure" and "died on a 75-24 vote." Levin proposed that, "[i]f the United Nations did not act, Bush could seek a second vote to move against Iraq without U.N. support."[30]

Other amendment attempts also failed:[31]

  • Rep. Barbara T. Lee (D-Calif.): "would have urged the president to use diplomacy and work through the United Nations rather than launch a military strike. It failed by 355 to 72."
  • Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.) and Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.): "would have authorized U.S military action only if it were sanctioned by the Security Council or by a second congressional vote later this year. It lost 270 to 55."

Linking September 11, 2001, with invasion of Iraq

The bill was originally drafted by President George W. Bush's office, then sent to the Congress for review. It was signed by the President, with few changes, on October 16, 2002. Section 3, Subsection b, Item 2 of the bill required the President to "make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that... acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

On March 21, 2003, Bush sent a letter to Congress fulfilling the bill's requirements and assuring the Congress that "use of armed force" was necessary to "protect the national security of the United States" and was "consistent with" acting against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It said that Bush had "reluctantly concluded" that "only the use of armed force will accomplish these objectives and restore international peace and security in the area [of Iraq]." Neither the 2002 Authorization nor Bush's 2003 letter mentions full-scale invasion and occupation of Iraq. The occupation's legality relies heavily on the leeway provided by the clause authorizing the President "to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" to "defend" U.S. national security and unilaterally "enforce" UN resolutions on Iraq.

On September 18, 2003, six months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, President Bush "explicitly stated for the first time" that there was "no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved" in the September 11, 2001 attacks.[32]

Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President George H.W. Bush, had pointed out in August 2002 that "there is scant evidence to tie Saddam to terrorist organizations, and even less to the Sept. 11 attacks. Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them." He also observed that Saddam's goals were regional, and that "[t]here is little evidence to indicate that the United States itself is an object of his aggression."[33]

However, "[d]espite his stated rejection of any clear link between Saddam Hussein and the events of that day," Bush continued "to assert that the deposed president had ties with al-Qaeda, the terrorist network blamed for the 11 September attacks."[34]

A 2006 Senate report found that "Saddam issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al-Qaeda," and "Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qaeda... refusing all requests from al-Qaeda to provide material or operational support."[35] It also reported that Saddam's distrust of al-Qaeda had been reported to the administration before the invasion of Iraq.[36] The administration continues to insist that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda that threatened the United States' national security.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Sources

  1. Press Release: President Signs Iraq Resolution, Office of the White House Press Secretary, October 16, 2002.
  2. "House gives Bush authority for war with Iraq," CNN, October 10, 2002.
  3. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  4. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  5. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  6. "House gives Bush authority for war with Iraq," CNN, October 10, 2002.
  7. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  8. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  9. "House gives Bush authority for war with Iraq," CNN, October 10, 2002.
  10. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  11. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  12. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  13. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  14. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  15. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  16. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  17. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  18. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  19. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  20. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  21. Walter Pincus, "Democrats Who Opposed War Move Into Key Positions," Washington Post, December 4, 2006.
  22. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  23. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  24. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  25. "House gives Bush authority for war with Iraq," CNN, October 10, 2002.
  26. "Senate approves Iraq war resolution," CNN, October 11, 2002.
  27. Walter Pincus, "Democrats Who Opposed War Move Into Key Positions," Washington Post, December 4, 2006.
  28. Walter Pincus, "Democrats Who Opposed War Move Into Key Positions," Washington Post, December 4, 2006.
  29. Walter Pincus, "Democrats Who Opposed War Move Into Key Positions," Washington Post, December 4, 2006.
  30. "House gives Bush authority for war with Iraq," CNN, October 10, 2002.
  31. Jim VandeHei and Juliet Eilperin, "Congress Passes Iraq Resolution," Washington Post, October 11, 2002.
  32. "Bush administration on Iraq 9/11 link," BBC News, September 18, 2003.
  33. Brent Scowcroft, "Don't Attack Saddam ," Wall Street Journal: Opinion Journal, August 15, 2002.
  34. "Bush administration on Iraq 9/11 link," BBC News, September 18, 2003.
  35. Adam Brookes, "Iraq war justifications laid bare," BBC News, September 9, 2006.
  36. Jonathan Weisman, "Prewar intelligence doubted al-Qaida link to Iraq, report says," Washington Post (via Seattle Times), September 9, 2006.

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