Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's time to silence the war drums

In spite of recent revelations that Iran is an ally against al-Qaeda (Iranian authorities had arrested two al-Qaeda operatives traveling through Iran on their way from Pakistan to Iraq), BushCo keeps on hammering on its war drums. It seems clear to me that Congress needs to show real leadership here and exercise its (long forgotten) powers and act to constrain the Executive branch from plunging the country into another illegal, immoral and likely more devastating war. David Kurtz shares this:

From The Guardian today:

US preparations for an air strike against Iran are at an advanced stage, in spite of repeated public denials by the Bush administration, according to informed sources in Washington.

The present military build-up in the Gulf would allow the US to mount an attack by the spring. But the sources said that if there was an attack, it was more likely next year, just before Mr Bush leaves office.

So there you have it. No real surprise. Just about anyone paying any attention understands that's where things stand: Gun loaded. Safety lock still on. In the hands of an Administration with an itchy trigger finger.

A few days ago, I linked to a James Fallows' column in which he suggested that Congress take steps now to head off an Iran misadventure. Several readers emailed wondering whether Congress has the power to preempt the President from taking military action.

As it turns out, the Senate Judiciary Committee has held hearings recently on this issue. In a column of his own, John Dean summarizes the bipartisan consensus that emerged from witnesses who testified at that hearing:

What is especially significant, in my eyes, is that the conclusion that Congress does indeed have power to significantly restrict the Administration in its plans for war, transcends politics: Even experts who have worked for Republican administrations have come to this conclusion.

. . .

[T]here is no real question as to whether Congress could legally stop Bush and Cheney from going to war in Iran without coming to Congress to fully explain what they are doing and why. Congress has that power; the only question is whether it will dare to use it.

For those interested in the finer legal points, Dean provides links to the witnesses' written testimony.

You can come up with a laundry list of reasons why attacking Iran would be a disaster, and you can come up with a decent list of reasons why the Administration is presently constrained by circumstances from doing so (not enough troops and hardware, for example). But you'd be hard-pressed to come up with any good reasons for why this Administration would be constrained by either circumstances or potentially disastrous outcomes. Besides, do these clowns still deserve the benefit of the doubt?

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