The New Bush Legacy — Sticking Us in Iraq

iraq_multiple_bases.jpgA trillion-dollar federal deficit isn’t enough. A slime trail of obfuscation and secrecy is not enough. A record of trampling on our constitutional rights with secret wiretaps and illegal Internet monitoring is not enough. Now George Bush wants to cement his legacy by tying us to Iraq indefinitely by means of a “status of issue agreement.”

The agreement that Bush wants states that the United States will defend Iraq whenever and wherever — forever. There’s no end date, no out point. There has never been a clearer expression of Bush’s long-term goal in Iraq than the status of issue agreement, which ties us to the occupation indefinitely.

As far back as 2004 the army was building 14 “permanent” bases in Iraq. But somehow, Bush’s overall plan to maintain bases in Iraq long-term to use as launching pads for aggression against Iran or Syria, to protect oil supplies and quell insurgents continues to fly just under the media’s radar.

And the worst part of this status of issue agreement is that there are members of the Senate who say that Bush is within his rights as president to strike such an agreement without consulting Congress.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said she believes Bush probably does have the power to strike such a deal if he wants.

“He would have authority, I think,” said Feinstein. “Based on what I know, he would.”

Fortunately, there are some senators who are of the opinion that Bush would need the ratification of Congress for what is, in effect, a treaty:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had a one-word answer as to whether Bush had the legal authority he is claiming: “No.”

And Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the administration in a letter that the proposed status of forces agreement obligates the United States to use force to protect Iraq’s security — the kind of commitment he says the Constitution requires Congress to bless.

“A commitment that the United States will act to assist Iraq, potentially through the use of our armed forces in the event of an attack on Iraq, could effectively commit the nation to engage in hostilities,” Biden wrote. “Such a commitment cannot be made by the executive branch alone under our Constitution.”

Tough talk, no doubt about it. But Congress has shown a marked inability or lack of will or just plain lack of intestinal fortitude when it comes to bucking this imperial presidency. Bush has ruled by proclamation, repetition and obfuscation for so long that he knows that all he has to do is repeat the same lies enough times and the citizens of the Benighted States of America will nod like the pod people we have become and let him get away with whatever atrocity du jour he proposes.

But we can’t allow him to tie us to Iraq indefinitely. That’s a legacy none of us can afford and one we shouldn’t have to even countenance.

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