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April 25, 2015

Posts in "Iraq"

February 11, 2015

Congress Gets to Dust Off Its War Voting Powers

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Tim Kaine, left, and House Intelligence ranking member Adam B. Schiff want to debate a war authorization. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For the first time this decade, Congress is set to have a full-fledged war debate. The White House wants pure kabuki with no practical effect; lawmakers, most of whom have never voted to send men and women into harm’s way, will have to choose whether to go along.

President Barack Obama is intent on doing what he wants either way — as he already has in his undeclared war on the Islamic State terror group for months, with Congress on the sidelines. Full story

November 24, 2014

Chuck Hagel Out at DOD; Jack Reed, Michele Flournoy, Ashton Carter on Short List (Updated) (Video)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be replaced, the New York Times is reporting. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hagel is on his way out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:23 p.m. | President Barack Obama is getting a new Defense secretary.

Obama announced Monday in the State Dining Room that Chuck Hagel will be leaving his post once a successor is confirmed by the Senate. Hagel tendered his resignation earlier Monday after a series of crises erupted on his watch, including the rise of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Full story

November 7, 2014

Obama Wants $5.6B for ISIS War, Sends More Troops to Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train on a weapon during a training session with British military advisers (unseen) at a shooting range on the outskirts of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on November 5. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train on a weapon during a training session with British military advisers (unseen) at a shooting range in northern Iraq on November 5. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $5.6 billion more for the war against ISIS, and is sending another 1,500 troops to Iraq.

The White House made the announcements as congressional leaders exited a post-election lunch with the president without speaking to the press.

Obama’s latest request is stacked on top of a $6.2 billion ask to combat the Ebola crisis.

The White House said the troops heading to Iraq would be in a non-combat role advising the Iraq military. The funding for the war on ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, includes money to upgrade the Iraqi military as well as Kurdish forces. It also includes funding for State Department activities.

Both supplementals are likely to be part of the overall debate on funding the government. Congress must pass a new spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:18 p.m.
Iraq, ISIS

October 14, 2014

White House Defends ISIS War: ‘This Strategy Is Succeeding’

Abandoned houses in the Syrian city of Kobani after fighting between Syrian Kurds and militants from Islamic State. (Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)

Abandoned houses in the Syrian city of Kobani after fighting between Syrian Kurds and militants from Islamic State. (Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)

Despite gains by ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the face of airstrikes, the White House insists President Barack Obama’s strategy to “destroy” the terrorist group remains on track.

“This strategy is succeeding,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters of the president’s fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State. Earnest appeared to minimize the potential takeover of the Kurdish town of Kobani in Syria on the border with Turkey.

Earnest blamed the lack of ground forces in the fight for the possible plight of Kobani — even as he noted that Obama has ruled out putting American ground forces into the fight. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 1:30 p.m.
Iraq, ISIS, Syria

September 29, 2014

Boehner Aide Calls Earnest’s ISIS Remarks ‘Stupid’

Steel on Monday called Earnest's comments stupid. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Steel called Earnest’s comments “stupid.” (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner’s spokesman ripped White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s remarks today tying Boehner’s position on defeating ISIS to President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy.

“Trying, for political purposes, to link Speaker Boehner’s position on destroying ISIL with former President Bush’s Iraq policy and splitting hairs where they don’t exist is, frankly, stupid,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “That’s no way to build bipartisan support for a real strategy to keep America safe. Everyone understands that ruling out options in advance shows weakness to our enemies.”

Steel was reacting to Earnest’s comments in today’s daily briefing about Boehner’s comments on ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend. The Ohio Republican said there might be “no choice” but to deploy American ground forces against ISIS and criticized Obama for ruling out ground forces at the start. He did not call for an Iraq-style invasion, but was asked if U.S. ground forces would be needed if others did not step up. Full story

September 23, 2014

Congress Reacts to Syria Airstrikes

The deal securing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release will be the subject of hearings in the House Armed Services Committee. Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has said he believes Obama broke the law. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

McKeon and other congressional leaders praised the airstrikes in Syria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional hawks are cheering the multifaceted overnight airstrikes in Syria that included attacks on Islamic State insurgents and an al Qaida offshoot called the Khorasan Group, while others are lamenting Congress’ decision to duck a war authorization vote.

“Our men and women in uniform are once again striking an enemy that threatens our freedom,” said House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif.  “This is one step in what will be a long fight against ISIL. With strong coalition partners, a capable military, and a clear mission; it is a fight we can win.”

The Islamic State is also known as ISIL or ISIS.

“It is especially significant — indeed historic — that these strikes involve forces from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” said Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich. “The visible, public involvement of Arab and Muslim nations is crucial to long-term success against ISIS. While Western military force can help combat the poisonous ideology of groups such as ISIS, ultimately it is up to Muslim nations to resist and eliminate this poison.”

Other lawmakers said the strikes should have been authorized by Congress, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., on MSNBC reiterated his push for Congress to act, but said he doesn’t expect Congress to return until after the elections.

So far, any opposition in Congress has been muted.

“To defeat ISIS, we must cut off the head of the snake, which exists in Syria,” said Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of House Homeland Security, in a statement.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce of California called the strikes “long overdue.”

“While this initial attack will be a big psychological blow to the terrorist group, an air campaign will need to be major and sustained,” he said.

President Obama is scheduled to speak about the strikes in an address from the White House before he heads to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

The simultaneous strikes against the Khorasan Group, meanwhile, were taken to disrupt an “imminent attack.”

“The United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa’ida veterans — sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group — who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations,” Central Command said in a statement this morning.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Syrian regime was informed of the intent to strike by Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

“We warned Syria not to engage U.S. aircraft.  We did not request the regime’s permission.  We did not coordinate our actions with the Syrian government. We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets,” she said.

John Donnelly contributed to this report.



Congressional Hawks Cheer Overnight Strikes in Syria

House Votes to Arm Syrian Rebels; CR Passes

Bipartisan Bloc Coalesces Behind CR, Syrian Rebels Amendment

McCarthy Suggests Post-Election Vote Authorizing Military Force

Path Forward on CR, Title 10 Authority Starts to Crystalize

Obama Asserts Authority to Take on ISIS Without Congress

Congress Locked in ISIS War Muddle

Inhofe: Obama Speech Prompts ‘Sigh of Relief’ From ISIS

Obama Speech Excerpt: We’re Going to (Air) War Against ISIS

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 12, 2014

How Obama Will Pay for His War (Video)

From left, Reps. Morgan Griffith, Adam Kinzinger and Kevin Cramer head to a briefing on Obama's ISIS news. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Reps. Morgan Griffith, Adam Kinzinger and Kevin Cramer head to a briefing on Obama’s ISIS news. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The White House doesn’t know yet how much the new war with ISIS will cost, but it knows how it will pay for it: the all-purpose war funding credit card.

Officially known as Overseas Contingency Operations, it’s the catchall account used to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that is now funding the war against the group also known as the Islamic State or ISIL.

The White House is counting on OCO money in the pending continuing resolution to pay for President Barack Obama’s plan to go on offense against the group.

In a practical sense, a vote for the CR is a vote to fund Obama’s war, even though the words “ISIS” and “ISIL” do not appear anywhere in the text. In the draft House CR, it’s simply listed as funding for “Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism.”
Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 4:30 p.m.
Budget, Iraq, ISIS, Syria

September 11, 2014

Here’s Obama’s Legal Justification for ISIS War

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images News)

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images News)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday laid out the administration’s legal argument for going to war against ISIS based on the 2001 authorization to use military force — even though the organization did not exist then and has publicly split with al-Qaida.

Earnest said the group, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, was previously called al-Qaida in Iraq, consulted with Osama bin Laden and have similar ambitions.

“It is the view of … the Obama administration that the 2001 AUMF continues to apply to ISIL because of their decade-long relationship with al-Qaida, their continuing ties to al-Qaida; because … they have continued to employ the kind of heinous tactics that they previously employed when their name was al-Qaida in Iraq. And finally, because they continue to have the same kind of ambition — aspiration that they articulated under their previous name.” Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:55 p.m.
Iraq, ISIS, Syria

Congress Locked in ISIS War Muddle

Barack Obama

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s prime-time ISIS war speech Wednesday night came as congressional leaders — and a restive rank and file — continued to wrestle with what role, if any, they should play.

While the president asserted to congressional leaders he didn’t need their authorization to take on and destroy the Islamic State group, Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and administration officials were also personally calling members of Congress ahead of the speech to explicitly authorize arming and training Syrian rebels, known as Title 10 authority, as part of the unrelated continuing resolution needed to fund the government past Sept. 30.

The push would put Congress on record for a significant piece of the president’s strategy — but accountability isn’t necessarily what lawmakers want to own heading into the midterm elections. An undercurrent of the tense debate is that the four congressional leaders have been singing different tunes, although they all ostensibly support taking on ISIS, also known as ISIL.

Republicans announced plans late Wednesday to punt the CR another week to give members more time to review the president’s request.

Earlier, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said Obama had called him personally on Tuesday at 5 p.m. asking for the Title 10 authority to be included. The Kentucky Republican expressed some frustration that the president had waited so long to call, and said talks were ongoing as to how to proceed, although he’d prefer to keep it out of the CR.

Each party leader faces different pressures on the matter.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 5 a.m.

September 10, 2014

Menendez Drafting New Authorization for ISIS War

Menendez wants to get to work on the ISIS issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Menendez wants to get to work on the ISIS issue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s new plan to “destroy” ISIS will eventually require congressional authorization, and promised his committee will begin drafting one.

Menendez’s statement came as vulnerable Democrats generally praised the president’s decision to take on ISIS but split over pieces of his strategy — while liberals demanded Congress vote to authorize the war.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:11 p.m.
Iraq, Politics

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