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October 25, 2014

Posts in "Iraq"

September 22, 2014

Before Approving ISIS War, Menendez Wants Intelligence Briefing (Video)

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Ranking member Bob Corker, left, and Menendez listen as Kerry testifies about the ISIS threat (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The senator leading a push to authorize the war against ISIS after the elections wants an intelligence briefing first, so lawmakers know the full extent of the covert operations already under way.

Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez aired his frustrations last week when Secretary of State John Kerry came to testify before his old committee about the administration’s plans to fight the terror group known as ISIS or ISIL.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., asked about published reports of covert efforts to train Syrian rebels.

“I know it’s been written about in the public domain, that there is, quote, ‘a covert operation.’ But … I can’t confirm or deny whatever that’s been written about and I can’t really go into any kind of possible program,” Kerry responded.

That prompted Menendez to chime in shortly afterward, saying the committee’s inability to get access to information about covert operations was an issue with both the Obama administration and the Senate itself. He questioned how the panel could properly draft a new Authorization for Use of Military Force without such details. Full story

September 18, 2014

Senate Votes to Fund Syrian Rebels Against ISIS, Avert Government Shutdown (Updated) (Video)

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Manchin said he’s concerned about arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:50 p.m. | After some last-minute drama on immigration, the Senate took care of Congress’ last must-pass piece of business before the November elections — keeping the government funded and providing authority for arming and training Syrian rebels in the fight against the terror group known as ISIS.

Senators voted 78-22 in favor of the continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 11, with the bill’s next stop President Barack Obama’s desk, well ahead of the end-of-the-month deadline to preventing a government shutdown.

The bill, which the president has said he will sign, provides billions the president intends to use for his war on ISIS, but does not explicitly authorize that war beyond arming “vetted” Syrian rebels. The vote did not cut cleanly along party lines, which came as no surprise. Full story

September 17, 2014

Kaine Introduces Limited ISIS War Authorization

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tim Kaine is introducing a limited war authorization against ISIS, even as Congress is set to jet out of town without an authorization vote before the elections.

The Virginia Democrat, who has led the push for Congress to go on record, would limit the use of ground forces in the conflict to rescue missions and to go after high-value targets. The authority against ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, would expire after a year.

He also proposes to repeal the 2002 authorization to use military force (AUMF) in Iraq, something the White House has said it supports.

“Last week, President Obama laid out a strong case for the need to degrade and destroy ISIL and invited broader Congressional support for this effort,” Kaine said in a statement. “I was heartened when Foreign Relations Committee Chairman (Robert) Menendez answered this call by saying the committee would soon craft authorizing language for the U.S. military mission. It’s my hope that this proposal will help move the ball forward on what a specific and narrow authorization for limited military action against ISIL should look like.”

Kaine again knocked the Congress for ducking the authorization question for now.

“If Congress isn’t willing to do the hard work – to debate and vote on an authorization – we should not be asking our servicemembers to go into harm’s way,” he said.

Here’s the full text of Kaine’s proposal: Full story

September 3, 2014

McCain: Senate Shouldn’t Leave Without Authorizing Use of Force Against ISIS (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | NORFOLK, Va. — Sen. John McCain said Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t leave Washington for the mid-term election break until authorizing the use of force against ISIS.

Speaking with reporters after a campaign event for GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie at a VFW hall, the Arizonan dismissed the idea that the Senate is only scheduled to be in session for two weeks in September, where advancing a continuing resolution to keep the government running will highlight the agenda.

“I believe that these two weeks should be used to continue the CR, but most importantly the issue of this whole ISIS situation has to be reviewed. We have to have hearings. I know we’re scheduling hearings in the Armed Services Committee, and we have to act, in my view, on the authorization of use of military force,” McCain said. “And we don’t have to leave after two weeks. We can stay in session. This is an international crisis. This is a direct threat to the United States of America. That’s according to the intelligence people, the secretary of Defense, etc.”

Full story

September 2, 2014

Senate Democrat Proposes Authorization to Strike ISIS in Syria

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Nelson (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., plans to introduce legislation next week that would give President Barack Obama definitive authority to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State terror group in Syria — as senators on both sides of the aisle ramp up calls for military action.

“This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson said in a release.

While Obama has ordered airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, some policy experts have questioned whether the administration has the clear legal authority — independent of Congress — to broaden the air campaign to strike targets in Syria. Nelson’s legislation is designed to allay those doubts. Full story

August 26, 2014

McConnell Wants Details From Obama on Plans for ISIS

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants President Barack Obama to present Congress with a plan to fight the Islamic State, including any potential needs for a new authorization for use of military force.

“The President needs to develop a regional strategy, working with our allies, to defeat ISIL, and to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force. The President needs to present this plan to the Congress and the American people. And where the President believes he lacks authority to execute such a strategy, he needs to explain to the Congress how additional authority for the use of force will protect America,” the Kentucky Republican said in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call. “The threat from ISIL can no longer be ignored, and it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”

Full story

August 13, 2014

Rand Paul Wants Obama to Seek Approval for Extended Iraq Effort (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul has joined the calls for President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval for an extended military campaign to fight Islamic State forces in Iraq.

Full story

August 12, 2014

Tim Kaine: Obama Needs Congress to OK Iraq Air Strikes

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Kaine says the president needs congressional authorization for air strikes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine wants President Barack Obama to seek new approval from Congress for the current bombing campaign in Iraq.

“I support providing humanitarian relief to Iraqi civilians and measures to protect American personnel, but I am concerned about the timeline and scope of our renewed military efforts in Iraq,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement. “Since the Administration has conceded that the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force is obsolete and should be repealed, it is now up to the Administration to receive Congressional authorization for the current air campaign against IS. This is especially the case since the President has indicated that our renewed military engagement in Iraq could be a long-term project.”

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 5:44 p.m.
Democrats, Iraq

August 8, 2014

Feinstein Warns of Risk of ISIL Attack on America, Says Must Be Confronted

feinstein006 011514 445x295 Feinstein Warns of Risk of ISIL Attack on America, Says Must Be Confronted

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned Friday of the risk that the insurgent group ISIL could be preparing fighters to attack American and European targets.

“It has become clear that ISIL is recruiting fighters in Western countries, training them to fight its battles in the Middle East and possibly returning them to European and American cities to attack us in our backyard,” the California Democrat said in a statement backing military action authorized by President Barack Obama. “We simply cannot allow this to happen.”

Full story

June 25, 2014

Tim Kaine Says Obama ‘Must’ Come to Congress Before Striking ISIL in Iraq (Video)

A longtime ally of President Barack Obama says he must consult Congress before taking military action in Iraq, except to secure the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the former head of the Democratic National Committee, said Obama “must seek congressional approval” before launching military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) unless there is a direct and imminent threat to the United States, such as a threat to the U.S. Embassy. There is no such imminent threat now, Kaine said. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:47 a.m.
Iraq

June 20, 2014

Levin: No Iraq Airstrikes Without Backing of Sunnis, Kurds

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the United States should only launch airstrikes in Iraq unless the various sectarian factions in the nation can unite to formally request it.

“Without at least that much of a showing of unity is made, I don’t believe that any assistance on our part would make a difference,” Levin said at a Friday news conference.

“The step that is critically essential before we even consider airstrikes is for there to be a formal public statement by the leaders of all of the groups in Iraq; Shia, Sunni, religious minorities, Kurds, tribal leadership in a public formal statement requesting assistance,” Levin said. “That would be a major step towards, and it would be an indication of a willingness to move towards national unity.”

Levin’s comments come after President Obama said he is considering possible military action in Iraq where sectarian extremists are threatening to overrun the government.

Militants — known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL — have pushed from the border with Syria and overtaken major cities in Iraq’s northern Sunni region sparking a new refugee crisis with hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing.

Levin also conditioned airstrikes on military leaders deciding that we have effective options that can change the momentum on the ground in Iraq and on clear public support from friends and allies in the region — particularly moderate Arab leaders of neighboring countries.

Levin warned that the militants pose a threat to the United States and its allies.

“The ISIL is a vicious enemy,” Levin said. “It is also the common enemy of all Iraqis, and of Iraq’s neighbors. If this vicious, common enemy cannot unite Iraqis in common cause, then our assistance, including air strikes, will make no difference.”

By Humberto Sanchez Posted at 12:20 p.m.
Iraq

June 19, 2014

Rand Paul: Obama Should Seek New Authorization for Iraq Strikes

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said President Barack Obama should seek new authorization from Congress before taking military action in Iraq, saying it would be “absurd” to rely on the 2001 authorization to use military force.

“This is a debate we’ve had and the Obama administration as well as many Republicans think that you can stay at war forever based on [the] 2001 use of authorization of force,” Paul told reporters Thursday. “I don’t agree with that. I don’t think one generation can commit another generation to war forever. Full story

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