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Clinton Joins Effort to 'Deauthorize' Iraq war

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) today signed on to legislation that would deauthorize the Iraq war, her strongest anti-war position in the four-and-a-half years since she joined an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans in approving the war.

Clinton, who has been dogged by anti-war liberals over her previous support for the war, endorsed a plan offered by the chamber's loudest anti-war senator, Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.), that would end the original congressional authorization at the five-year anniversary of the historic vote approving the war.

"I believe that this fall is the time to review the Iraq war authorization and to have a full national debate so the people can be heard. I supported the Byrd amendment in 2002 that would have limited the original authorization to a year and I believe a full reconsideration of the terms and conditions of the authorization is overdue. This bill would require the president to do just that," Clinton said on the Senate floor. (Read Clinton's full statement.)

"The President must redefine the goals and submit his plan to achieve them to a thorough and open debate in the Congress and throughout the country. That is the American way," Byrd said on the floor.

The practical effect of the legislation, according to Clinton and Byrd, would be to force President Bush to come back to Congress with a new plan to get the war authorized. How that would work with about 140,000 troops on the ground, or however many are there in the fall at the point of deauthorization, is unclear.

Clinton and her aides have gone to great pains throughout the campaign to talk about her consistency on the war, supporting it at first and evolving into a critic of its operations. She has steadfastly refused to apologize for her October 2002 vote, which has angered many in the left-leaning netroots community.

The campaign was actively pushing the new legislation she co-authored with Byrd today. We'll see how the left wing of the party reacts.

The deauthorization approach to the war is distinctly different from supporting legislation that would cut off funds for combat missions, which Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) voted against in a non-binding resolution in mid-March. Some of their Democratic competitors, including Sens. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), opposed those non-binding resolutions, leaving open the option of supporting cutting off funds at some future date.

By Paul Kane  |  May 3, 2007; 6:17 PM ET
Categories:  Iraq , Senate  
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While I do believe that Bush is exaggerating in his whole chaos theory for Iraq regarding this bill, I also think that it would be foolish to pull out of Iraq without thinking about the repercussions and alternatives for this war. I think that for Iraq to escape chaos insitutions and funding need to be in place to address and prevent further poverty.

If the original principle of why we are fighting this war is as important as Bush claims, the $340 billion already spent and the further $100+ billion to be spent should be redirected toward plans to fight poverty and develop the country to prevent another Afghanistan. According to the Borgen Project, just $19 billion annually can end starvation and $15 billion provides water and sanitation all over the world. If ending terror is the goal, the Millennium Development Goals to end poverty is the way to to go for our leaders.

Posted by: anna k | May 3, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"it would be foolish to pull out of Iraq without thinking about the repercussions and alternatives for this war."

True: but that is how we got IN. Why not exit the same way?

Posted by: thrh | May 4, 2007 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Very exciting. Go Hillary!

Posted by: Ellen | May 4, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Your article is missing an important point with respect to the Democratic Presidential race. Governor Bill Richardson called on Congress to take this action months ago, and Clinton (knowingly or unknowingly) has now endorsed Richardson's position.

At the DNC Winter meeting in February, Richardson stated, "You know, as someone who served in the Congress for 14 years, I know the power they hold, should they choose to wield it. The Congress passed a resolution authorizing war. They need to pass another one that overturns that authorization and brings our troops home by the end of this calendar year. And you would think--that when the Congress realized they were lied to, they would have done something about it. Well, they still can."

It was a great speech. Read it at

Posted by: Stephen Cassidy | May 4, 2007 3:36 AM | Report abuse

INVADE IRAN TODAY No sense leaving until the work is completed. Americans cannot sense the difference between 2 casualties and 2,000 casualties. It all tops the news in the same way. Get the job done while the country will permit it. Once we are gone, there will be no returning regardless of the need.

Posted by: Ralph | May 4, 2007 4:42 AM | Report abuse

Two problems with deauthorization. First, it still requires the President's signature. That's not going to happen and there aren't enough votes to override a veto. Second, the authorization isn't really that necessary. No president (Dem or Rep) has ever agreed to be bound by the War Powers Act. The President can and will put troops wherever he or she deems necessary. Congress can't do anything about that other than defunding the deployments.

Posted by: dc law student | May 4, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

After having made so many mistakes, you would think that Bush would listen to the people and what they want when it comes to this war. Yes, it is good to have a strong stance on an issue, but sometimes you must admit you have been wrong and back down. We can always go about making Iraq a safer place for its people from another angle. Poverty breeds terrorism; if we stepped up the fight against poverty, security around the world would increase. According to the Borgen Project, we have already agreed to the UN Millennium Goals which put forth a timeline for eliminating global poverty. We have already promised to do something about poverty, now we must remind our leadership to create and implement a plan to help the world's poor while combating the root of terrorism.

Posted by: Taylor | May 4, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What's wrong with the Iraq war is that we do not have a 3 million man army to fight it with. The size of the army's infantrymen should be set by law at 1% of the population. Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, and support troops are extra. Therefore a 7 million man armed forces is appropriate for the US. Finances?
Get away from the highly paid volunteer army and back to a required service of two years to your country after high school.
If you don't have enough army for Iraq; then forget about Darfur, also-you won't be able to handle that, either.

Posted by: Common Sense | May 4, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

In many forms and from many angles, the same question keeps emerging: "How the heck do we get out of this unholy mess?"

The problem is: no one dares to contemplate the answer. ACME (American Corporate Media Establishment) keeps invoking the perception that an invasion and occupation of a sovereign country is a war ... for no other reason than it was the US that started it. If any other nation had committed this egregious violation of internat'l law, order and sovereign rights, it would have invaded them and taken immense credit for it's virtue and commitment to global peace.

The challenge doesn't appear to me to be how to get out of the mess, instead it appears as "How do we right a terrible wrong?", and thereby admit to the Nation and the rest of the world that is/was just that.

Americans take extraordinary, almost mythic, self-satisfaction in their bravery and resoluteness in the face of perils of all sorts. But that is no substitute for a sense of reality and determination to do justice.

If the US, the "We the People", really wants to redeem it's role in the new Century of the Whole Earth before it is too late, true bravery would entail impeaching the President, the Vice President and the former Secretary of Defense, and tendering them to the Hague for prosecution.

The souls of those who have already given their lives, "The Proud and the Brave", and the sacrifice of those who have served and got maimed deserve honour. By ignoring the truth, America must be constrained to ignore them.

Its not a question of winning or losing a war (the Admin's dilemma) its a question of when to stop the occupation. Its not a question of how brave Americans are, its a question of whether they are brave when it come to doing what is right; what they know is right.

Posted by: Roderick Whitney Stillwell | May 4, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Senator Clinton,

You've got it right! Go for it. Deauthorize this war that has unleashed hell in Iraq and cause untold suffering. Never have I felt so ashamed to be an American. Our high tech war against their low tech war is not winning the war against...Who? Who are we fighting.

Posted by: maureen Murphy | May 4, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Mike Gravel's web site is getting more traffic than Hillary's or Obama's. Gravel was the only candidate to express outrage at our young people being fed into the military-industrial meatgrinder. I believe we are seeing a Howard Dean-type phenomenon among the internet grassroots, especially American youth. I think Hillary's people are smart enough to see what is happening and have thus moved to re-position her on the war.

Posted by: RWMann | May 5, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Clinton is not the originator of this idea, nor is she the first presidential candidate to endorse it. So why is her jumping on board suddenly news? I guess WaPo needed a subject for the daily Hillary story. Glad you have picked your frontrunner so soon and saving the Democrats the tension and pressure of an actual primary.

Posted by: Viejita del oeste | May 5, 2007 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Deauthorizing the war is something enough Repugs might go for so don't rule it out just yet! Those who feel that congress shouldn't micromanage a war because the president is the commander in chief need to open their eyes! Never before in the history of this country have we had a president as arrogant and incompetent as this one. Something must be done to keep history from repeating itself.

Posted by: jackie | May 5, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Where has the WP been the last 6 months this is the 3rd Democratic Presidential Candidate 1st Sen Biden, 2nd Gov. Richardson, and now Sen Clinton who has proposed this. Why does this get so much press??? I am sick of the Obama & Clinton love affair with the press.

Posted by: Tom L (NJ) | May 6, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

We spent two plus years getting the Viet Nam Government to be able to "take over". We left with helicopters pulling us out with rope ladders and millions of supporters suffered for years from the Viet Cong. No matter how long we stayed,how many troops we "surged' the results would be the same. When we leave Iraq,now or 10 years from now there will be an unleashing of violence against Sunni and Shia. All we are now doing is slowly destroying our strength and offering more targets for the enemy.
Learn from history-admit the mistake and get out.

Posted by: Richard Head | May 7, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

While deauthorization (no quotes b/c I'm officially declaring it a real word) does seem to be one of the most intelligent options for a first step, the Dems must still overcome the presumption that they are "micromanaging" the war. Thus, they should be extremely careful about how they approach a deauthorization, and need to understand that America would be better served by a limited reauhtorization. Whatever you want to call it, two absolutely necessary components to re/deauthorization would be an immediate follow-up authorization for limited purposes in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and, second, the support of active and retired military leaders and rank-and-file for these newly formed, limited purposes. If either of these elements are mssing, then popular support, currently Congress' most powerful weapon, will not follow.

Also, dc law student's comment needs to be deleted as balderdash. The President doesn't sign and certainly cannot veto a congressional resolution either authorizing or deauthorizing the war-- that's a power ordained exclusively upon Congress and one of the fundamental tenets of separation of powers. Dc law student should either start paying more attention in Con Law or ask for a refund from the bursar's office.

DC law student did, however, highlight the most important principle for all of us to remeber here. DC stated "the President can and will put troops wherever he or she feels." It's been almost 2000 years since Ceaser and many less since Napolean and Hitler, but I don't believe Americans (however fat, stupid and lazy) have forgotten that one person should never have exclusive control over the levers of the military machine. If push comes to shove on that issue, Bush will lose.

Posted by: R.W. Twain | May 7, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it would be better if questions of Authorization began to be addressed NOW , not in Fall . Iraq can never be won in the sense that there are two opponents with one prevailing through battling . This 'war' is already nothing more than an occupation...more like how France attempted to prevent independence for its colony, Algeria. Eventually , it was recognized that History had changed, and there could be no preventing of independence for Algeria (also Indonesia, India, The Philippines , Angola, Mozambique, etc.). Now, we seem to be attempting to ignore the political realities of this situation while we worry about who will 'win'. We should withdraw now, and hand the Iraqi Nation its independence . Their civil war might have been inevitable if Saddam Hussein had passed away while in office . Would the American People ever have brooked a US 'intervention' if he had died in office , and Iraq had descended into civil war ' ? The answer is 'NO'. Our involvement is NOT in the security interests of the US...just like Vietnam proved not to be .

Posted by: Daniel Wargo | May 7, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Wars are like wildfires. Any idiot can start one, they are very destructive, and by definition, cannot be controlled. Our idiot president started this wildfire in Iraq with full knowledge his family would be safe, he doesn't care about those whose lives are being destroyed. I believe this war will do for Bush and the GOP what Hoover did for the GOP 75 years ago.

Posted by: Alan Hayes | May 7, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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