Sunday, January 28, 2007

The original Iraq war resolution: invade "anywhere in the region"

And I read this where? Gentleman's Quarterly. Yes, those foreign policy wonks over at GQ had a scoop and I nearly missed it. Here's an excerpt from their Jan 2007 interview with U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (beginning on pg. 2):
[GQ] Do you wish you’d voted differently in October of 2002, when Congress had a chance to authorize or not authorize the invasion?
[CH] Have you read that resolution?
[GQ] I have.
[CH] It’s not quite the way it’s been framed by a lot of people, as a resolution to go to war. That’s not quite what the resolution said.
[GQ] It said, “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq.”
[CH] In the event that all other options failed. So it’s not as simple as “I voted for the war.” That wasn’t the resolution.
[GQ] But there was a decision whether to grant the president that authority or not.
[CH] Exactly right. And if you recall, the White House had announced that they didn’t need that authority from Congress.
[GQ] Which they seem to say about a lot of things.
[CH] That’s right. Mr. [Alberto] Gonzales was the president’s counsel at that time, and he wrote a memo to the president saying, “You have all the powers that you need.” So I called Andy Card, who was then the chief of staff, and said, “Andy, I don’t think you have a shred of ground to stand on, but more to the point, why would a president seriously consider taking a nation to war without Congress being with him?” So a few of us—Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I—were invited into discussions with the White House.
[GQ] It’s incredible that you had to ask for that.
[CH] It is incredible. That’s what I said to Andy Card. Said it to Powell, said it to Rice. Might have even said it to the president. And finally, begrudgingly, they sent over a resolution for Congress to approve. Well, it was astounding. It said they could go anywhere in the region.
[GQ] It wasn’t specific to Iraq?
[CH] Oh no. It said the whole region! They could go into Greece or anywhere. I mean, is Central Asia in the region? I suppose! Sure as hell it was clear they meant the whole Middle East. It was anything they wanted. It was literally anything. No boundaries. No restrictions.
[GQ] They expected Congress to let them start a war anywhere they wanted in the Middle East?
[CH] Yes. Yes. Wide open. We had to rewrite it. Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I stripped the language that the White House had set up, and put our language in it.
Greece? Well, geez, this would have been nice to, four years ago, for example!
For what it's worth, Hagel goes on to relate his feelings about military prisons, torture and Guantanamo (pg. 5):
Does being a veteran also make you sensitive to the administration’s approach to interrogation and the use of secret military prisons?
It does, because that’s not who America is. We have always, certainly since World War II, had the moral high ground in the world. But these secret prisons and the treatment at Guantánamo destroy all of that. We ought to shut down Guantánamo. There shouldn’t be any secret prisons. Why do we need those? What are we afraid of? Here we are, the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Why can’t we let the Red Cross into our prisons? Why do we deny they exist? Why do we keep them locked up? What are we afraid of? Why aren’t we dealing with Iran and Syria?
It's quite fascinating to watch Hagel 'come out' like this. I highly recommend the entire GQ interview. Should you want to see Hagel "Bring it," check out his performance in the Sen. Foreign Relations Cmte., last week (transcript).
H/T to the Sam Seder Show for pointing the way to GQ (and here I thought it was another mag about 'fab abs,' cigars and Axe body spray. For shame!).


Anonymous thwap said...

He probably seriously believes the US has occupied the moral highground since 1945, ... but he neglects Vietnam, and the death-squads in Central America during the 1970s and 1980s, and continuing today in Colombia.

It's good that USians and Canadians claim to hold such values, but we mustn't think that our countries truly practice them.

1/31/2007 7:10 AM  
Blogger Godammitkitty said...

Hi Thwap! I have not followed Hagel's career very closely. I was simply impressed by his 'performance' these last few weeks. I realize that he has a shady past in terms of ES&S voting machines, so I'm sure he's no angel ;)

Thanks for stopping by, Thwap! Cheers--GDK

2/04/2007 1:59 AM  

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