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July 28, 2014

Posts in "Iraq"

June 26, 2014

Obama to Congress: Constitution Gives Me Authority to Send Troops to Iraq (Updated)

obama062614 445x266 Obama to Congress: Constitution Gives Me Authority to Send Troops to Iraq (Updated)

(Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 6:40 p.m. | President Barack Obama told Congress Thursday that he has the authority on his own to send troops to Iraq indefinitely under the Constitution.

“These forces will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed,” Obama told lawmakers of his decision to send 300 military advisers there.

“This action is being undertaken in coordination with the Government of Iraq and has been directed consistent with my responsibility to protect U.S. citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:55 p.m.

June 20, 2014

Congress Won’t Block Obama on Iraq

duckworth062014 445x294 Congress Wont Block Obama on Iraq

Duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs during her military service, said Obama needs flexibility to deal with the situation in Iraq. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s now clear Congress will not block President Barack Obama from using force in Iraq if he chooses, despite opposition primarily from the president’s own party.

A key takeaway from a series of late-night votes on the Defense appropriations bill is that a sizable antiwar group of House Democrats oppose Obama’s plan to engage militarily, and don’t support his plans to continue a global war on terror beyond the end of this year.

Full story

By Steven Dennis and Emma Dumain Posted at 4:02 p.m.

June 19, 2014

Obama Prepared for Iraq Action Without Congress (Video)

Updated 3:48 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday he’s prepared to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq and launch attacks against the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant without getting new permission from Congress. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 3:33 p.m.

Obama to Make Statement on Iraq

President Barack Obama will make a statement about Iraq at the White House this afternoon after meeting with his national security team in the Situation Room, the White House announced.

The statement in the Brady Press Briefing Room is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. It comes a day after the president briefed congressional leaders on Iraq at the White House.


Related stories:

Obama not asking Congress’ Permission on Iraq

Amendments Opposing Iraq War Could Put House Democrats in Tough Spot

Obama’s Democrats Wary of Military Action in Iraq

Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Act Never Expired

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:17 a.m.

June 18, 2014

Obama Not Asking Congress’ Permission on Iraq (Updated)

Updated 11:18 p.m. | President Barack Obama is still considering what to do about Iraq, but he told the top congressional leaders Wednesday that he doesn’t think he needs Congress’ permission to act.

“We had a good discussion,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., arriving back at the Capitol after the meeting. “The president basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take and indicated he would keep us posted.” Full story

Obama’s Democrats Wary of Military Action in Iraq (Video)

Congress is at war over whether to go back to war in Iraq.

Less than five months from midterm elections and more than 11 years after Congress first authorized the war, lawmakers are wary of getting sucked back into the conflict. But Congress’ opinion may not even matter, because President Barack Obama already has the authority to act if he chooses.

The commander in chief will detail his thinking for the four top congressional leaders Wednesday, in a White House meeting which might help to get more information through the halls of the Capitol.

Until then, members are all over the place on what to do, whom to blame and whether the president is deploying the right strategy.

Obama faces splits in his own party — with anti-war Democrats such as Rep. Barbara Lee of California hoping to repeal the authorizations to use military force in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere — and more hawkish members, such as House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, willing to consider air strikes to avoid Iraq becoming a new safe haven for terrorists.

While he has ruled out ground combat, Obama hasn’t ruled out air strikes against the forces of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to stem their march toward Baghdad, while pressuring Nouri al-Maliki to open his government to Sunni and Kurdish leadership.

But many Democrats say they’re inclined to stay out of Iraq’s affairs — seared from the enormous costs of that war.

Lee, who is leading an effort in the House to repeal the broad authorizations to use military force in Iraq and elsewhere as part of the debate on the Defense spending bill, is urging the president to not take military action. ”The United States should not get embroiled in this sectarian warfare,” she said in an interview on MSNBC.

Lee said there should be a congressional debate on the issue.

“The American people deserve to have their members of Congress go back to debate this,” she said.

Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts also is strongly opposing engaging militarily in Iraq. “It would be a huge mistake,” he told CQ Roll Call.

McGovern questioned why the United States would want to prop up the Maliki government, which he called corrupt, inept and brutal.

“Tell me how this ends?” he asked.

As for the rebels, McGovern questioned how they could be attacked via airstrikes effectively: ”There are no bases that say, ‘Welcome to ISIS.’”

But Hoyer told reporters air strikes should be considered, given the threat of terrorist attacks.

“This is not just a question of internal stability in Iraq, it is a question of bases for training and deployment of attacks on the United States of America,” he said.

Other Democrats seem ready to give the president some leeway but will need convincing, too.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., talked more about what he doesn’t want to do in Iraq — rather than what should be done.

“After a decade of war, we’ve all had enough. I do not support putting our men and women in harm’s way in Iraq. Families have sacrificed enough,” he said.

“The mistake was going into that war in the first place,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. ”We wasted $2 trillion, thousands of lives, ended up with a country worse off than it was to begin with, and with a leader of the country, Maliki, who told us to get out. Some would say we ought to say ‘Thank you. You told us to get out. We’re out.’

“Now, we’re saying ‘Oh, we got to go back in there, send troops, do everything, because after all they’re a danger to us. Sounds to me very much like the same arguments we heard to go in there in the first place. If Maliki’s not even willing to do some of the things he should have done for years, it kind of limits what we can do.”

But Leahy said he backs the president’s decision to send 275 troops to protect the U.S. Embassy.

“That’s reasonable, we should have them in there. We’ve got that monstrosity of an overbuilt, overpriced, outrageous embassy, but we’ve got to protect it,” he said.

Iraq also presents a pickle for embattled Democrats facing re-election, such as Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska.

“I’m not interested in any troops on the ground, and I think any military action would be very problematic,” he said.

Republican leaders, while critical of Obama’s decision not to keep troops in Iraq years ago, aren’t united on what to do either.

GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina appear to be alone in leading a drumbeat for air strikes and other military support for the Iraqi government. Republican leaders say they are waiting for the president to present a clear plan.

A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio sounded a cautionary note ahead of the Wednesday meeting with Obama.

“The speaker expects the president to offer a coherent strategy to ensure that Iraq does not descend further into lawless barbarism,” spokesman Michael Steel said. “We spent years, vast sums of money, and – most importantly – thousands of American lives to improve Iraq’s security and make America safer. Squandering that legacy would be a tragic mistake.”

Other Republican leaders were calling for a plan — but not offering one of their own.

“This would not have happened if we had left troops there,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. But Blunt wasn’t about to offer suggestions about what to do now. “The president needs to make these proposals, not me.”

John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, likened the situation to last year’s aborted attempt to woo Congress for authority to take action in Syria.

“I think what we saw in Syria and elsewhere, if the president doesn’t have a plan, Congress is not gonna just give him a rubber stamp,” he said. “We’d be interested in listening to the plan, and I’m sure trying to work with him if he’s got one. But he’s got to come up with a serious plan that enjoys a reasonable likelihood of success.”

In the end, Obama can act on his own. Multiple authorizations to use military force remain in effect giving him broad leeway.

McGovern said Congress shouldn’t be allowed to duck its responsibility.

“I think we should be on record on whether we want to restart another war in Iraq,” he said, gesturing toward the House floor.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 Republican, said he believes that there would likely be support for airstrikes so long as there is a clearly defined objective.

“I think most Republicans … and I think probably a good number of Democrats too” would likely support airstrikes, Thune said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily something that breaks down on partisan lines.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he would ask “tough questions” once he sees what Obama proposes. Kaine said there could be a role for the United States in Iraq, working with partners or helping with humanitarian relief.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., affirmed “I do trust his judgment on this,” and that Obama will be able to find a balanced course of action, but would not say definitively if she would support airstrikes.

When pressed, she said, “We have to go after terrorists.”

Niels Lesniewski and Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

June 17, 2014

Obama Hosting Iraq Meeting With Boehner, Reid, McConnell, Pelosi

President Barack Obama will meet at the White House with the bipartisan Congressional leadership Wednesday to discuss Iraq and other foreign policy issues, according to a White House official.

The meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., comes amid a growing crisis in Iraq. Members of the president’s own party are deeply reluctant to take significant military action, Republicans are pinning blame on the president for withdrawing troops and the American public is wary.

Other foreign policy issues will be discussed as well, the official said.

Poll: Little Support for Sending Combat Troops to Iraq

A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows widespread opposition to the United States sending combat troops to Iraq. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 8:45 a.m.
Iraq, Polls

June 16, 2014

United States Starts Talking With Iran on ISIL Threat in Iraq

The White House is walking a fine line on the potential for cooperation with Iran on fighting Iraq’s insurgents — yes to talks, no to military coordination. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 7:16 p.m.

Obama Sending 275 Troops to Iraq, May Send Special Forces (Updated) (Video)

450715274 445x295 Obama Sending 275 Troops to Iraq, May Send Special Forces (Updated) (Video)

Iraqi soldiers watch as armed tribesmen gather to show their willingness to join Iraqi security forces in the fight against jihadi militants. (AFP/Getty Images)

Updated 7:19 p.m. | U.S. troops will not be ordered into combat in Iraq, but there will be boots on the ground.

President Barack Obama is sending 275 troops to Iraq for security of U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy, the president said in a letter to Congress Monday.

According to a statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney, the troops will assist with the relocation of some staff from the embassy.

“These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission,” Carney said.

Obama also is considering sending Special Forces into Iraq to help with training and other purposes, but not in direct combat, The Associated Press reported.

Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 6:34 p.m.
Iraq, John Boehner

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