Leading Democrats are finally starting to call George Bush out on the 2002 Congressional joint resolution authorizing war with Iraq under specified conditions. Cheney and Bush violated that resolution when they invaded Iraq. John Dean, still a nominal Republican, discussed that resolution at some length in his 2004 book Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (German title: Das Ende der Demokratie).
I still don't quite get it why the Dems in the 2004 election didn't point to that fact when John Kerry and other Dems were attacked for voting for that 2002 resolution and then later criticizing the failures of the Cheney-Bush administration in the Iraq War.
But now Ted Kennedy is picking up on the theme (Escalation: It's Not Up To Him Daily Kos diary 01/09/07):
One key fact even George Bush cannot ignore: Congress never authorized what's happening in Iraq now.
In 2002, the Bush Administration's case for war focused on Saddam's supposed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al Qaeda. In October of the same year Congress authorized a war against the regime of Saddam Hussein, not to send our troops into a civil war. I voted against the resolution and feel an escalation of this war only compounds the original mistake of going in the first place.
In 2007, Saddam Hussein is dead. Weapons of mass destruction were never found - nor was any evidence that Saddam and al Qaeda were working together.
The 2002 authorization for the use of force has nothing to do with today's reality. Back then it was simply bad policy. Today, when it comes to escalation, it is obsolete.
A serious escalation of the war requires the people's consent. Our Commander in Chief has shown that he is seriously out of touch. He has ignored the reality that Iraq is embroiled in a civil war. When military generals spoke out against escalation, he replaced them. When voters clearly demanded an end to the war, he decided to escalate instead.
Never has America's system of checks and balances been so threatened, and never has the courage to act been more important.
And our own California Sen. DiFi, who hasn't been as forceful as she needs to be on the Iraq War, is also picking up the point. Well, kinda sorta (Dems ponder methods to thwart Bush on troops by Marc Sandalow San Francisco Chronicle 01/10/07):
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he opposes the troop increase, but doesn't believe Congress has the authority to end the war by cutting the Pentagon's war budget, a notion disputed by some constitutional scholars.
In fact, other lawmakers including Kennedy suggested that Bush may have already overstepped the authority Congress granted him in October 2002, when the House and the Senate voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the time has come to revise the resolution "and set some timelines and parameters" to the authority given to the president four years ago.
Feinstein did not say whether she supported Kennedy's legislation, but added that she opposes "a military escalation of what is civil insurrection and war. I do not believe that the sectarian killing can be stopped by military action, but rather only by the actions of the Iraqi leadership and government."
At least DiFi is talking about asseting Congressional primacy established in the Constitution on war issues. Why Joe Biden is being such a weenie about this, I don't know.
But, from the American perspective, Gary Hart is not far off the mark when he says, "The endless Iraq war is decreasingly about Iraq and increasingly about the U.S. Constitution."