The rationale for that war was fabricated in the highest reaches of the U.S. leadership.
First came the lies, so many it was impossible to keep up. Then came the shock and awe, the crudely invented Iraqi jubilation, the torture, the renditions, the secret prisons, the indefinite detentions, the deluge of unaccounted-for cash, the no-bid contracts, the flaccid media, the spectacle of "mission accomplished," the smug claims that there was no insurgency, the lousy armor ...
The endless flow of blood.
There is now a long list of the dead who would not be dead were it not for this war initiated out of bravado, rancid ideology and doctored "evidence." Thousands of dead Americans and allied troops. And, at the very least, 120,000 dead Iraqis, perhaps several hundred thousand. Deaths in any war are terrible enough. Deaths in a war of choice, a concocted war, an illegal preventive war, count as nothing short of murder. The list of the maimed, the widowed, the orphaned is far longer, the list of the psychologically impaired longer still.
Before George W. Bush was voted 5-4 by the Supreme Court into the presidency, those who lied us into this war were already plotting their justification for sinking deeper military and economic roots into the Middle East—petropolitics and neo-imperialist sophistry interlaced with arrogant disdain for Iraqis and Americans alike. When they stepped into office in the footsteps of the mediocrity they had chosen to manipulate, terrorism gave them no worries, as Richard Clarke later explained to us. They focused, as former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill later informed us, on finding the right excuse to persuade the American people to go to war with Saddam Hussein. This they perceived and planned as a prelude for going to war with some of his neighbors. Less than nine months later, the excuse dropped into their laps in the form of Osama bin Laden's kamikaze crews.
From that terrible day forward, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and their fellow rogues engineered the invasion with eager nods from Bush. They saw the chance to carry out their invasion plan and moved every obstacle—most especially the truth—out of their way to make it happen.
It didn't have to. They could have been blocked. Due diligence and some spinal fortitude in Congress might have stopped the war in its tracks. But in October 2002, the Senate and the House voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution. Five months and one week later, the bombs began falling on Baghdad.
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The blame for that is widespread. But we typically forget those who voted against it.
On this ninth anniversary of the beginning of that atrocity, that series of atrocities, the 156 Congresspeople and Senators who voted against the AUMF deserve to be remembered. This isn't meant as praise for everything they ever did, before or since, merely acknowledgment that, on this, they were right when so many were so very, very wrong.
In the Senate:
Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), Kent Conrad D-ND), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Bob Graham (D-FL), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Paul Wellstone (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Jim Jeffords (I-VT).
In the House:
Neil Abercrombie (D-HI 1st), Tom Allen (D-ME 11st), Joe Baca (D-CA 42nd), Brian Baird (D-WA 3th), John Baldacci (D-ME 2nd), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI 2nd), Xavier Becerra (D-CA 30th), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd), David Bonoir (D-MI 10th), Robert Brady (D-PA 1st), Corrine Brown (D-FL 3rd), Sherrod Brown (D-OH 13th), Lois Capps (D-CA 22nd), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA 8th), Ben Cardin (D-MD 3rd), Julia Carson (D-IN 10th), William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-MO 1st), Eva Clayton (D-NC 1st), James Clyburn (D-SC 6st), Gary Condit (D-CA 18th), John Conyers (D-MI 14st), Jerry Costello (D-IL 12th), William Coyne (D-PA 14th), Elijah Cummings (D-MD 7st).
Susan Davis (D-CA 49th), Danny K. Davis (D-IL 7th), Peter DeFazio (D-OR 4th), Diana DeGette (D-CO 1st), William Delahunt (D-MA 10th), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd), John Dingell (D-MI) 15th, Lloyd Doggett (D-TX 25th), Mike Doyle (D-PA 18th), John James Duncan, Jr. (R-TN 2nd)Anna Eshoo (D-CA 14th), Lane Evans (D-IL 17th), Sam Farr (D-CA 17th), Chaka Fattah (D-PA 2nd), Bob Filner (D-CA 50th), Barney Frank (D-MA 4th), Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX 20th), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL 4th), Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23rd), Earl F. Hilliard (D-AL 7th), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY 22nd), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX 15th), Rush Holt (D-NJ 12th), Mike Honda (D-CA 15th), Darlene Hooley (D-OR 5th), John Hostettler (R-IN 8th), Amo Houghton (R-NY 29th).
Jay Inslee (D-WA 1st), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL 2nd), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX 18th), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX 30th), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH 11th), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH 9th), Dale E. Kildee (D-MI 5th), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI 13th), Jerry Kleczka (D-WI 4th), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH 10th), John LaFalce (D-NY 29th), James R. Langevin (D-RI 2nd), Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd), John Larson (D-CT 1st), Jim Leach (R-IA 1st), Barbara Lee (D-CA 9th), Sander Levin (D-MI 12th), John Lewis (D-GA 5th), William Lipinski (D-IL 3rd), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA 16th).
James H. Maloney (D-CT 5th), Robert Matsui (D-CA 5th), Karen McCarthy (D-MO 3rd), Betty McCollum (D-MN 4th), Jim McDermott (D-WA 7th), James McGovern (D-MA 3rd), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA 4th), Carrie P. Meek (D-FL 17th), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY 6th), Bob Menendez (D-NJ 6th), Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA 37th), George Miller (D-CA 7th), Alan Mollohan (D-WV 1st), Jim Moran (D-VA 8th), Connie Morella (R-MD 8th), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 8th), Grace Napolitano (D-CA 34th), Richard E. Neal (D-MA 2nd), James Oberstar (D-MN 8th), David Obey (D-WI7th), John Olver (D-MA 1st), Major Owens (D-NY 11th), Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th), Ed Pastor (D-AZ 2nd), Ron Paul (R-TX 14th).
Donald Payne (D-NJ 10th), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA 8th), David Price (D-NC 4th), Nick Rahall (D-WV 3rd), Charles Rangel (D-NY 15th), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX 16th), Lynn Nancy Rivers (D-MI 13th), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX 23rd), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA 33rd), Bobby Rush (D-IL 1st), Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN 5th), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA 46th), Bernie Sanders (I-VT At Large), Thomas C. Sawyer (D-OH 13th), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL 9th), Robert C. Scott (D-VA 3rd), José E. Serrano (D-NY 16th, Louise Slaughter (D-NY 28th), Vic Snyder (D-AR 2nd), Hilda Solis (D-CA 31st).
Pete Stark (D-CA 13th), Ted Strickland (D-OH 6th), Bart Stupak (D-MI 1st), Mike Thompson (D-CA 1st), Bennie Thompson (D-MS 2nd), John Tierney (D-MA 6th), Edolphus Towns (D-NY 10th), Mark Udall (D-CO 2nd), Tom Udall (D-NM 3rd), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 12th), Peter Visclosky (D-IN 1st), Maxine Waters (D-CA 35th), Diane Watson (D-CA 32nd), Mel Watt (D-NC 12th), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA 6th), David Wu (D-OR 1st).
Many good speeches were given in opposition to the resolution those Congresspeople opposed. On the day of the Senate vote, Oct. 11, 2002, the single post on the 5-month-old Daily Kos was given over to the entire speech that Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) had given in the House on Oct. 10. An excerpt:
It sets a precedent for our nation—or any nation—to exercise brute force anywhere in the world without regard to international law or international consensus.To Congressman Stark, and the other 155, wherever you are, thank you.
Congress must not walk in lockstep behind a President who has been so callous to proceed without reservation, as if war was of no real consequence.
You know, three years ago in December, Molly Ivins, an observer of Texas politics, wrote: "For an upper-class white boy, Bush comes on way too hard. At a guess, to make up for being an upper-class white boy."
"Somebody," she said, "should be worrying about how all this could affect his handling of future encounters with some Saddam Hussein." How prophetic, Ms. Ivins.
Let us not forget that our President—our Commander in Chief—has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. In fact, he admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn’t notice "any heavy stuff going on."
So we have a President who thinks foreign territory is the opponent’s dugout and Kashmir is a sweater.
What is most unconscionable is that there is not a shred of evidence to justify the certain loss of life. Do the generalized threats and half-truths of this Administration give any one of us in Congress the confidence to tell a mother or father or family that the loss of their child or loved one was in the name of a just cause?
Is the President’s need for revenge for the threat once posed to his father enough to justify the death of any American?
I submit the answer to these questions is no.
Aside from the wisdom of going to war as Bush wants, I am troubled by who pays for his capricious adventure into world domination. ...
The questions before the Members of this House and to all Americans are immense, but there are clear answers. America is not currently confronted by a genuine, proven, imminent threat from Iraq. The call for war is wrong.
And what greatly saddens me at this point in our history is my fear that this entire spectacle has not been planned for the well being of the world, but for the short-term political interest of our President.
Now, I am also greatly disturbed that many Democratic leaders have also put political calculation ahead of the President’s accountability to truth and reason by supporting this resolution.
But, I conclude that the only answer is to vote no on the resolution before us.”