Panhandle (W.Va.) Grassroots for Democracy

The Panhandle Grassroots for Democracy is working to improve our corner of eastern West Virginia, our state and our nation.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2,000

From Senator Robert C. Byrd:

"Mr. President, press reports this afternoon indicate that the number of American troops killed in Iraq has now reached 2,000. This is another tragic milestone in this costly war, in which too much blood has been spilled already. I offer my deepest sympathies to the brave men and women who have given their lives in selfless dedication to service to our Nation. There are fourteen West Virginians among the 2,000 troops who have given their lives in Iraq. I offer to these families my prayers that God may comfort them in their grief for the loss of their beloved husbands, wives, sons or daughters.

As we mourn the losses that have already occurred in the war in Iraq, Americans should be mindful that all indications are that there will be many more losses to come. More than 135,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. They did not ask to be sent to war, but each day, they carry out their duty while risking their lives. It is only reasonable that the American people, and their elected representatives, ask more questions about what the future holds in Iraq.

I was alarmed last week when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the President's ability to initiate another war. Specifically, Secretary Rice was asked whether the President must seek a new congressional authorization if he were to attack Syria or Iran. Secretary Rice responded: "I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers. And I think you'll understand fully that the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq."

I am astounded by that response. The Secretary of State seems to indicate that she believes that the President, has the power to redefine the war in Iraq and the "war on terrorism" to include a possible attack on Syria or Iran.

Mr. President, Congress made a grave mistake on October 11, 2002, in passing the resolution which transferred to the President the power to declare war against Iraq. But that resolution was limited to Iraq alone -- it has no mention of Iran, it has no mention of Syria. It cannot possibly authorize a new war against Syria or Iran.

Our troops are so deeply mired in the sectarian conflicts in Iraq, what point could there possibly be in contemplating an attack on Syria or Iran? Why did Secretary Rice dismiss the notion that the President must first come to Congress if he wishes to broaden this war to new countries? Is that not exactly what the Constitution requires?

The American people seek an end to this ongoing, bloody war in Iraq, not new conflicts in neighboring countries. For the sake of the Constitution, for the American people, and for the brave members of the United States Armed Forces, the President should publicly acknowledge that there will be no expansion of the war in Iraq without the authorization of Congress. There must be no more mission creep, no more billions committed, no more lives lost, without authorization by the people's representatives in Congress, including an open debate, and an up or down vote. Too many lives have already been lost in pursuit of the doctrine of preemption. I urge the Administration to turn away from that dangerous doctrine of preemptive war, and adhere to the requirements of the Constitution of these United States to which we all swear an oath."

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