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‘The assassination of Qasem Soleimani was an act of war’: Rep. Omar and Rep. Lee introduce resolution to stop Trump’s war on Iran

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On January 5, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Barbara Lee announced that they are introducing a War Powers Resolution in the House. The legislation would remove U.S. forces from any conflict with Iran that hasn’t been granted congressional approval and is a companion to a Senate resolution that was introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) two days prior.

“‪Let’s not mince words: the assassination of Qasem Soleimani was an act of war undertaken without Congressional authorization, in violation of the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Omar in a statement, “Following the assassination, thousands of additional troops were sent to the Middle East in one of the largest rapid deployments seen in decades. This follows years of saber-rattling and threats of war against Iran by President Trump and his accomplices. We in Congress must exercise our Constitutional duty—and do everything in our power to stop another disastrous war.”

Lee, who was the only member of congress to vote against war on Afghanistan in 2001, released a similar statement. “For far too long, Congress has been missing in action on matters of war and peace,” it reads, “Make no mistake: the assassination of Qasem Soleimani places us on the brink of war with Iran. Trump’s reckless military actions, without Congressional approval or authorization, have caused this crisis. We have been down this dangerous path before in Iraq, and we cannot afford another ill-advised, destructive, and costly war in the Middle East. It’s past time for Congress to reassert our Constitutional authority and return to diplomacy with Iran and our allies.”

On the same day that Omar and Lee announced the legislation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated that a War Powers vote could be taken up this week. “Last week, the Trump Administration conducted a provocative and disproportionate military airstrike targeting high-level Iranian military officials,” she wrote to fellow Democrats in a letter, “This action endangered our service members, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran. As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe.  For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) attempted to tack an amendment onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have prohibited the Trump administration from using federal money to attack Iran without congressional approval. The amendment was ultimately omitted from the final version of the NDAA. “Any member who voted for the NDAA — a blank check — can’t now express dismay that Trump may have launched another war in the Middle East,” tweeted Khanna after the assassination, “My Amendment, which was stripped, would have cut off $$ for any offensive attack against Iran including against officials like Soleimani.”

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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15 Responses

  1. Misterioso on January 6, 2020, 12:46 pm

    Lest we forget, a reminder:

    https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2017/07/03/the-forgotten-us-shootdown-of-iranian-airliner-flight-655%C2%AD/

    “The ‘Forgotten’ US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655” Foreign Policy Journal, by Jeremy R. Hammond | Jul 3, 2017

    EXCERPTS:
    “On the rare occasions the US mainstream media refer to the US shootdown of an Iranian airliner in 1988, they sustain the myth it was simply a ‘mistake.’

    “Today marks twenty-nine years since the shootdown by the USS Vincennes of Iran Air flight 655, which killed all of the plane’s 290 civilian passengers. This shootdown of a civilian airliner by a US naval ship occurred on July 3, 1988, toward the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.

    “This incident is, of course, something that the people of Iran well remember. Americans who rely on the US mainstream media, on the other hand, would have to be forgiven for never having heard about it.

    “Furthermore, in the rare instances when the media do mention it, to this day they tend to maintain official US government falsehoods about what occurred and otherwise omit relevant details that would inform Americans about what really happened.

    “The lack of mention of the incident or, when it is mentioned, the deceptive reporting about what occurred illustrates an institutionalized bias in the media. The consequence is that Americans seeking to understand US-Iran relations today fail to grasp a key historical event that has helped to define that relationship.

    “How the Mainstream Media Report the US Shootdown of Flight 655”
    “If one does a quick Google search for relevant keywords specific to the shootdown, only a handful of US mainstream media reports turn up on first-page results.

    “Max Fisher in the Washington Post wrote a piece about it several years ago, appropriately titled ‘The Forgotten story of Iran Air Flight 655.’ For context, Fisher asserted that ‘the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.’ As explanation for how the Vincennes ‘mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet,’ Fisher suggested it was ‘perhaps’ due to ‘the heat of battle’ or ‘perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself.’

    “The Washington Examiner a couple years ago ran a piece with the headline ‘Iran says 1988 airliner shootdown is why U.S. can’t be trusted.’ The author, Charles Hoskinson, stated simply that ‘An investigation revealed that the cruiser’s crew mistook the airliner for an attacking F-14 fighter jet while involved in a confrontation with Iranian gunboats.’

    “Fred Kaplan in Slate noted in a 2014 piece that the incident ‘is almost completely forgotten’ (at least in the US). His article was appropriately subtitled ‘The time the United States blew up a passenger plane—and covered it up.’ As a journalist who had reported on the incident at the time and challenged the US government’s official story, Kaplan noted that ‘American officials told various lies’ intended to blame the Iranians for the tragedy.”

    “The Facts about the US Shootdown of Flight 655”
    “After the Vincennes shot down Flight 655, as Fred Kaplan noted in his Slate piece, Vice President George H. W. Bush responded by saying, ‘I will never apologize for the United States of America—I don’t care what the facts are.’

    “The facts were that the Aegis cruiser USS Vincennes, under the command of Captain Will Rogers III, had entered Iran’s territorial waters and opened fire on and sank two Iranian gunboats posing no threat to the American vessels. (Aboard another Iranian boat the Vincennes was passing by at the same moment Rogers gave the order to open fire, the crew was seen relaxing topside, as captured by the camera of US Navy journalists.)

    “At the time, as a Navy investigation later acknowledged, the Vincennes detected a plane ascending ‘on a normal commercial air flight plan profile’ and squawking a transponder signal identifying itself as a commercial aircraft.
    “Aboard the Sides, with identical radar information as received aboard the Vincennes, Captain Carlson determined the plane was a ‘non-threat.’

    “Aboard the Vincennes, Lieutenant William Montford warned Captain Rogers that the plane was ‘possible COMAIR,’ but Rogers nevertheless ostensibly convinced himself that his ship was under attack from an F-14 fighter plane and minutes later ordered it shot down.

    “(Incidentally, the US had sold F-14s to Iran in the early 1970s while it was under the thumb of Washington’s strongman, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was put in power after a CIA-orchestrated coup in 1953 overthrew Iran’s democratically elected government by deposing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh for having nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The Shah was in turn overthrown during Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.)

    “Well aware that his action might kill civilians, Rogers ordered his gunner to open fire on the plane, shooting it out of the sky.

    “The Navy’s self-investigation attributed the discrepancy between the known facts and Rogers’ actions to ‘scenario fulfillment.’ Rogers had made ‘an unconscious attempt to make available evidence fit a preconceived scenario.’

    “In other words, even though the information the officers and crew aboard the Vincennes were receiving indicated that the plane was ascending along a commercial flight path and squawking its identify as a civilian airliner, Rogers imagined it to be an F-14 fighter jet coming down out of the sky to attack his ship.

    “US government officials evidently also suffered from ‘scenario fulfillment’ as they proceeded to make claims about what had happened bearing no relationship to reality.
    “President Ronald Reagan claimed that the killing of 290 civilians was justified as ‘a proper defensive action.’

    “Never one to apologize, Vice President Bush, while campaigning for the presidency, called it ‘just an unhappy incident’ and reassured Americans that ‘life goes on.'”

    .

    • Mayhem on January 7, 2020, 11:31 am

      @Misterioso, you dig up an incident that is disputed which involved the death of 300 people for which the US payed considerable compensation, yet you are happy to ignore the much more recent events where it appears that the Iranian regime may have murdered over 1,000 since protests began late last year
      Get your priorities right.

      • Misterioso on January 7, 2020, 3:27 pm

        @Mayhem

        Sigh. Once again, you and Hasbara Central have come up with nothing of consequence relevant to the topic at hand. BTW, it is common knowledge that Iranians have died during demonstrations. I remind you however, of the well documented over 71 years of continuous killing, illegal/brutal occupations, dispossession, expulsion, imprisonment without charge, torture, collective punishments, destruction of homes and olive/fruit groves, theft of land and water, imprisonment of children, etc. carried out by Jewish Zionists of foreign origin against the essentially defenseless indigenous Palestinian Muslims and Christians, which are financed in large measure by U.S. taxpayers (about $12 million per day.)

      • Elizabeth Block on January 8, 2020, 12:07 pm

        Americans – are you one, Mayhem? – are involved in American unlawful killings. That’s why it’s a priority.
        And the US paid compensation, but never apologized.

    • Misterioso on January 7, 2020, 12:47 pm

      BTW, the first act of shooting down a civilian airliner was ordered by Prime Minister Golda Meir. Lost over the Israeli occupied Sinai and off course due to bad weather and a malfunctioning radio, Libyan airliner, flight 114, was deliberately shot down by Israeli jet fighters over Sinai on February 21,1973 on the orders of Prime Minister Golda Meir, killing 108 of its passengers and its entire French crew.

      • jon s on January 7, 2020, 3:26 pm

        In July 1955 a civilian ElAl airliner was shot down over Bulgaria, killing all 58 passengers and crew.

      • wondering jew on January 7, 2020, 3:34 pm

        Misterioso- please link to the source that says this was ordered by Meir.

      • Talkback on January 7, 2020, 4:41 pm

        @ Wondering Jew

        “The Israeli leader at the time, Prime Minister Golda Meir and the then Israeli Minister of Defense, General Moshe Dayan were responsible for the giving the orders to shoot down the civilian aircraft. ”
        https://www.mediamonitors.net/forgotten-history-the-case-of-libyan-arab-airlines-flight-114/

      • jon s on January 7, 2020, 5:00 pm

        The Libyan plane tragedy: IAf commander Motti Hod recommended shooting it down, Chief of Staff David Elazar concurred and gave the order.

      • wondering jew on January 7, 2020, 6:15 pm

        Talkback -the linked article clarified that the order did not come from Meir (or even Dayan) but that they were responsible and Misterioso wrote “on the orders of”, which are 2 different things and your attempt to obfuscate is duly noted.

      • Talkback on January 8, 2020, 8:40 am

        Wondering Jew: “Talkback -the linked article clarified that the order did not come from Meir (or even Dayan) but that they were responsible and Misterioso wrote “on the orders of”, which are 2 different things and your attempt to obfuscate is duly noted.”

        What attempt, you liar? Without acting on Meir’s and Dayan’s order General Elazar would have not shot the airplane down to begin with.

  2. echinococcus on January 6, 2020, 1:16 pm

    Of course in the nightmare reality the US Gov lives in, whoever is president has that authority: both Repucrats and Demolicans (only exception Barbara Lee!) did vote AUMF 2001, which was used against Iraq, Libya, etc. several times by Obama. Their majority agreed not to terminate that AUMF. Why else did Pence just declare Iran as involved in 9/11? All it needs is a presidential say-so. That much for the Congressional war declaration fiction.

    It’s a bit futile to first open the barn doors wide, and much too late, years after even the rats left, try to close them. All the same, Omar deserves praise for standing with Barbara Lee.

  3. James Canning on January 6, 2020, 5:25 pm

    Trump’s assassination of the Iranian general was illegal and reckless. Trump’s threat to destroy great Iranian historic sites is beyond idiotic.

  4. genesto on January 7, 2020, 1:15 pm

    Couple of thoughts. First of all, we are not on the brink of war, we are already AT war with Iran. It started with the crippling sanctions, a clear ACT OF WAR. And now this extrajudicial assassination, also an ACT OF WAR.

    Secondly, maybe Trump, the ‘yellow haired lunatic’ (I like that one!), is trying to extricate us from the Middle East, while distracting the nation from the impeachment and giving Sheldon Adelson his third gift in return for hundreds of millions in much-needed political donations. With this extreme act, no country – with the notable exceptions of Israel and Saudi Arabia – in the Middle East wants to be affiliated with us anymore. Our being expelled from Iraq is just the beginning of the end of our reign in that region.

    Finally, and along with the above, shouldn’t the Democrats be taking advantage of this dangerous blunder by saying that, as long as Trump is president, Americans around the world will be in much greater danger (or something to that effect)?

  5. Elizabeth Block on January 8, 2020, 12:09 pm

    At least this time some members of Congress are fighting back. And it appears that there are plenty of Americans who cannot be described as never having seen a war they didn’t like.

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