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Democratic senator looks to revoke Bush's 2002 Iraq authority
Ron Brynaert
Published: Thursday February 15, 2007
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A Democratic candidate for president is planning legislation that would revoke the 2002 Congressional authorization, which gave President Bush the power to invade Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.

In prepared remarks for a speech about Iraq to be given today at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, states that the "best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq."

"Thatís exactly what Iím doing," Biden continues. "We gave the President that power to destroy Iraqís weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein."

Biden, along with two top Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Hillary Clinton (NY-D) and former Senator and 2000 Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards, voted for the 2002 Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. While Edwards later apologized for his vote, Clinton recently insisted that her vote was "not a vote for a pre-emptive war," but was intended to support further United Nations-directed weapons inspections.

The 2008 candidates who voted in favor of the 2002 resolution face, so far, at least one heavyweight Democratic contender whose stance against the war has remained largely unchanged over the last five years. Senator Barack Obama (IL-D), who wasn't elected to the US Senate until November of 2004, attended rallies against the invasion before it occurred, and says that he would have voted against the resolution had he had the chance.

Today, Biden argues that since "the WMD were not there" and "Saddam Hussein is no longer there," the "2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq."

Last month, Biden responded to comments made by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates which blamed Congressional resolutions against President Bush's Iraq policies for giving aid to the "enemy." The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week that it was the president's "failed" strategy which has "emboldened the enemy," not Congress.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden, "The administration is stepping up the rhetoric on your resolution. You saw the president, the vice-president, General Petraeus, all saying it would hurt morale and Pentagon Secretary Robert Gates added, 'It will embolden the enemy.' Are you worried that may be true?"

"No," Biden responded. "Not at all."

"It's not the American and the United States Congress who are emboldening the enemy," Biden continued. "It's the failed policy of this president, going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely, going to war without enough troops, going to war without enough equipment and, lastly, now sending 17,500 people in the middle of a city of six and a half million people with bulls-eyes on their back, with no plan."

Biden added, "There is no plan. He has tactics, George, but no plan."

"Biden long has criticized Bush's strategy in Iraq," Barry Schweid reports for the Associated Press. "It is not clear whether he would be able to draw enough congressional support to succeed in his effort which also would face a Bush veto."

At the Brookings Institution today, Biden said, "For our sake and for the sake of the Iraqi people, we should be focused on how we get out of Iraq with our interests intact."

Excerpts from Biden's prepared remarks:

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Opposing the surge is only a first step. We need a radical change in course in Iraq. If the President wonít act, Congress will.

But Congress must act responsibly. We must resist the temptation to push for changes that sound good but produce bad results.

The best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq. Thatís exactly what Iím doing.

We gave the President that power to destroy Iraqís weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein.

The WMD were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.

I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq.

Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to responsibly draw down, while continuing to combat terrorists, train Iraqis and respond to emergencies. We should make equally clear what their mission is not: to stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a savage civil war.

Coupled with the Biden-Gelb plan, I believe this is the most effective way to start bringing our troops home without leaving a mess behind.

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LINK TO PDF WITH BIDEN'S PREPARED REMARKS