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Sunday, June 05, 2005

Potential (R) response to Kerry on DSM, and why it's bunk.

A website calling itself "ALL Headline News" (they're news to me) has this article about Kerry's intent to "raise the issue" of the Downing Street Minutes. It is a credible article in many ways: unlike some of the rabid right-wing sites (and Al-Jazeera), it doesn't claim that Kerry is "pushing for impeachment", and while it calls the document the "Downing Street Memo", it notes:
The Downing Street Memo is a leaked Top Secret document that details the minutes of a 2002 meeting between top-level British and American government officials.

Then the article diverts to potential Republican rebuttals to any statement by Kerry on the DSM, claiming to have "discovered" a 1998 bill signed by President Clinton that makes everything Bush said and did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion a-ok:
However, All Headline News has re-discovered that a bill signed by then President Clinton named "The Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998" gave President Bush all of the legal recourse necessary for the war.

Stating directly from the bill: "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government. "

The H.R. 4655 law was signed into effect October 31,1998.

And then this:
Republicans plan to issue a response to Senator Kerry by using his own words against him, a tactic used in the 2004 Election. Where Sen. Kerry was quoted as saying the war was justified and Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.

Let's start with the easy one.

Republicans plan to issue a response to Senator Kerry by using his own words against him...Sen. Kerry was quoted as saying the war was justified and Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.

If Senator Kerry stated that "the war was justified and Saddam Hussein needed to be removed" because of the intelligence data that was presented to the Senate - intelligence data that the DSM now shows us "were being fixed around the policy", how does that absolve the Administration from any responsibility for lying to the American people - AND the Senate? Let's refer back to the Iraq War Resolution: Sec. 3 (b) states that either before or immediately after initiating military action, Bush must present to Congress his determination that:
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq;

In English, that says that all diplomatic measures must be exhausted or Bush had better present some good logic for giving up on it, before taking military action. And I believe if we look hard enough we can find published statements by Bush and his minions that state that their intent was to try to resolve the problem through diplomatic action. As I understand it, that is certainly why Senator Kerry voted for IWR in the first place. So if the DSM now shows that all along, Bush and his crew had absolutely no intent or desire for diplomatic measures to succeed, I would say that there are lies aplenty that were fed to Congress and the American people as fact, as the basis for decisions about Iraq; and our House members and Senators should be outraged (not to mention thousands of grieving widows, orphans, and other family members). How can you use statements that were made based on the information in the lies, to say that the lies themselves were somehow okay?

Now let's look at the second potential rebuttal suggested by the AHN article: that the 1998 bill, H.R. 4655, somehow gave Bush "all of the legal recourse necessary for the war". Let's look at the CRS summary of the bill as found in Thomas:
SUMMARY AS OF:
10/5/1998--Passed House, amended. (There is 1 other summary)

Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 - Declares that it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.

Authorizes the President, after notifying specified congressional committees, to provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations: (1) grant assistance for radio and television broadcasting to Iraq; (2) Department of Defense (DOD) defense articles and services and military education and training (IMET); and (3) humanitarian assistance, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled from areas under the control of the Hussein regime. Prohibits assistance to any group or organization that is engaged in military cooperation with the Hussein regime. Authorizes appropriations.

Directs the President to designate: (1) one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that meet specified criteria as eligible to receive assistance under this Act; and (2) additional such organizations which satisfy the President's criteria.

Urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people and democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, including convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to the foreign debt incurred by the Hussein regime.

I've bolded the relavant clause above - the only clause in the summary which refers to supplying anything from the Department of Defense (i.e. military assistance of any nature).

In the full text of the bill (enacted as Public Law 105-338), the relevant section is as follows:
SEC. 4. ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT A TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ.

(a) Authority To Provide Assistance.--The President may provide to
the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance
with section 5 the following assistance:

(1) Broadcasting assistance.--(A) Grant assistance to such
organizations for radio and television broadcasting by such
organizations to Iraq.
(B) <> There is
authorized to be appropriated to the United States Information
Agency $2,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 to carry out this
paragraph.
(2) Military <<NOTE: President.>> assistance.--(A) The
President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense
articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense
services of the Department of Defense, and military education
and training for such organizations.
(B) The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under
this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000.


(b) Humanitarian Assistance.--The Congress urges the President to
use existing authorities under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to
provide humanitarian assistance to individuals living in areas of Iraq
controlled by organizations designated in accordance with section 5,
with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled to
such areas from areas under the control of the Saddam Hussein regime.
(c) Restriction on Assistance.--No assistance under this
section shall be provided to any group within an organization designated
in accordance with section 5 which group is, at the time

[[Page 112 STAT. 3180]]

the assistance is to be provided, engaged in military cooperation with
the Saddam Hussein regime.
(d) Notification <> Requirement.--The President
shall notify the congressional committees specified in section 634A of
the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 at least 15 days in advance of each
obligation of assistance under this section in accordance with the
procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 634A.

(e) Reimbursement Relating to Military Assistance.--
(1) In general.--Defense articles, defense services, and
military education and training provided under subsection (a)(2)
shall be made available without reimbursement to the Department
of Defense except to the extent that funds are appropriated
pursuant to paragraph (2).
(2) Authorization of appropriations.--There are authorized
to be appropriated to the President for each of the fiscal years
1998 and 1999 such sums as may be necessary to reimburse the
applicable appropriation, fund, or account for the value (as
defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961)
of defense articles, defense services, or military education and
training provided under subsection (a)(2).

(f ) Availability of Funds.--(1) Amounts authorized to be
appropriated under this section are authorized to remain available until
expended.
(2) Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are in
addition to amounts otherwise available for the purposes described in
this section.
(g) Authority To Provide Assistance.--Activities under this section
(including activities of the nature described in subsection (b)) may be
undertaken notwithstanding any other provision of law.

And also, possibly more importantly:
SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise
speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in
section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.

In the excerpt of Section 4 above, I bolded 4(a)(2) because that is the ONLY authorization to use any kind of militrary resources whatsoever. Note that 4(a) specifically provides the context that the resources are to be provided to "the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance with section 5".

Furthermore, note that 4(a)(2)(B) states "The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000."

That's $97 Million, folks. With an M. Not a B.

So even if you accepted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of 2003 was somehow covered under Public Law 105-338, 4(a)(2), at some point Bush had to make the case to the American people to spend more than $97M on the democratization of Iraq. What are we up to now? Over $170 billion, with a B, right?

All in all, I have a real problem with the notion that attacking a country - heinous dictator at the helm or no - and sacrificing thousands of American soldiers and even more thousands of civilian lives - should be considered okay and green-lighted just because some 5-year old bill can be legally twisted to say that it was, well, "legal". And especially not when the war was pitched to the American people and their elected Senators and Representatives in a totally different light.

No, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't need to be. I see nothing in the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998" that authorizes the President of the United States to lie to the Anerican people about the reasons for going to war, or to authorize "the intelligence and facts [to be] fixed around the policy."

Go get 'em, Senator Kerry.

Comments:
Great work, MH.

Kerry is determined to bring these people to justice. I am expecting him to do it. Their crap is really getting old and I believe he public is tiring of this nonsense.

Kerry is just getting primed, and he certainly has a way with words. I'm taking a ringside seat! Gonna munch on peanuts,too!
 
Teresa,

Thanks again...when I saw the AHN article I was just really steamed, and I had to take it apart.

I hope JK is ready for a big battle on this one, and I hope other Dems back him up strong. The repubs are going to try to hit back hard, trying to change the subject and defame him in any way they can.

I'll bring the popcorn but I'm not sure if I'll have any appetite until we win a round or two.
 
Jk is always ready for a big battle.
I think the Repubs' punch is starting to miss the mark.
 
Heh. Jk is ready for the battle, but will the other Dems back him up?

I really, really want to see the (R)s miss big on this one.
 
Again, I don't know if its time yet. But I think it will be eventually.
 
Eventually is the correct term. It will come into play now and in the future.

Thank you for this wonderful post!!!! I will be sure to pass it on.

best wishes marie
 
And i'm happy to recipricate by adding your link to my list!!!!:)
 
Marie,

Thanks!! If we work together we can magnify our efforts.
 
Veteran's Day is November 11th and I hope that EVERY American will be flying the flag in honor of our troops fighting in Iraq and around the world to preserve our freedoms!

I can even tell you where to get one for free! Visit AmericanFlags.com right now and they'll send you a FREE American Flag. These flags were $19.99, but now they are FREE. You pay just for shipping/handling and they'll ship one to your door. (Actually - I've ordered more than 20 from them to give to my neighbors, as gifts, etc!)

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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams
 
Really interesting and informative images. You've certainly outlined your subject with a detailed and comprehensive manner. Some of these links are amazing, top stuff, love it.
 
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