Sunday, April 29, 2007

4. Bush's Blank Check

On October 11, 2002 the U.S. Senate passed “H.J.Res. 114: A joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq” by a vote of 77 to 23.

What few knew was that the Bush White House thought it had the right to go to war without consulting Congress and the measure was a pale version of what they really wanted.

Alberto Gonzales was the President’s counsel then and, according to Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, wrote a memo saying, “You have all the powers you need.” Hagel called Andy Card, then chief of staff, and asked why the President would consider going to war “without Congress being with him?” As a result, “a few of us--Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I--were invited to discussions with the White House...

“Finally, begrudgingly, they sent over a resolution for Congress to approve. Well, it was astounding. It said they could go anywhere in the region...Sure as hell it was clear they meant the whole Middle East. It was anything they wanted.”

Hagel, Biden and Lugar “had to rewrite it...stripped the language the White House had set up and put our language in it.” That was what Congress approved.

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