by Gordon Prather
Past and present Congresspersons from across the political spectrum insist that if they had known then, what they know now, they would never have allowed President Bush to use the conditional authority they had provided him to launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq.
Of course, they should have known when they gave him that authority in October, 2002 that their basic presumption –
"Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations"
Should have known, because in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, the International Atomic Energy Agency Action Team on Iraq was established by UN Security Council Resolution 687 and was charged with overseeing the destruction [or removal from Iraq] of all nuclear-weapons-usable materials, components and subsystems, plus any and all related research, development, support or manufacturing facilities.
In what amounted to his final report as Director-General, Hans Blix concluded way back in 1997 that;
"Most of the IAEA activities involving the destruction, removal and rendering harmless of the components of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme, which to date have been revealed and destroyed, were completed by the end of 1992."
Of course, when Bush got Congress to give him that conditional authority to use force, he assured them he was committed to seeking a diplomatic solution. He got the UN Security Council to pass Resolution 1441, which required Iraq to provide the IAEA and other UN inspectors "immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access" to any and all "areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records and means of transport," as well as "private access" to all pertinent officials.
Consequently, IAEA Director-General was able to report to the Security Council on March 7, 2003 that
"Since the resumption of inspection a little over three months ago, and particularly during the three weeks since my last ordered report to the council, the IAEA has made important progress in identifying what nuclear-related capabilities remain in Iraq and in its assessment of whether Iraq has made any effort to revive its past nuclear program during the intervening four years since inspections were brought to a halt.
"At this stage, the following can be stated:
"One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.
"Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.
"Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment."
Hans Blix, since 1998 the Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, gave a similar, although less conclusive, null report about Iraq's chemical, biological and ballistic missile activities.
In other words, the Congressional presumptions of October 2002 and the Cheney Cabal allegations of 2002 and 2003 about Iraq's weapons programs were all wrong! Saddam Hussein was not a threat even to his neighbors, much less to the United States.
Well, we all certainly had a close call. If Congresspersons hadn't made their authorization conditional, namely –
"In connection with the exercise of the authority … to use force, the President shall … make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that … reliance … on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq,"
then Bush could have ignored the null reports of ElBaradei and Blix, could have defied the UN Security Council and the UN Charter, could have launched a pre-emptive war of aggression against Iraq.
But Congress had made his authority conditional, and the Congressional conditions had clearly not been met. Hence, Bush hadn't been authorized by Congress to use US Armed Forces against Iraq.
So, where has Congress been since March 20, 2003?
Why haven't they impeached Bush? And Cheney?
If not immediately, in 2003, then why not in the years since, as the gravity of their crime has become more and more apparent?
Or, at a minimum, have hearings on how Bush was allowed to "exercise authority" he didn't have?
But Congress didn't even do that. So, is that why their baffled and betrayed constituents threw many of those Congresspersons out of office last November?
Did they intend to elect a Congress that would truly provide "oversight" on the President and his vigilante posse?
Were they truly alarmed about the resolutions Congress passed last year about Iran that read almost verbatim like the resolutions Congress passed in the years immediately preceding Bush's pre-emptive war of aggression against Iraq?
Did they expect House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid to place enforceable conditions on Bush's authority to launch a pre-emptive war of aggression on Iran?
Well, if they did, then they've been fooled again.
According to the Associated Press, Pelosi and "other members of the leadership" decided to remove from a "major military spending bill" a requirement that the President get prior approval from Congress before launching a pre-emptive attack on Iran.
Well, for one thing, after putting the requirement in, Pelosi was reportedly loudly "booed" when she appeared before an American Israel Public Affairs Committee hoohah.