Given the clarity of Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution, and the fairly obvious role Congress is supposed to have in approving treaties, there really shouldn’t be any question about lawmakers’ role in approving a new security agreement struck between the White House and the Maliki government.
But this is Bush we’re talking about, so unambiguous constitutional language may not matter.
The Bush administration yesterday advanced a new argument for why it does not require congressional approval to strike a long-term security agreement with Iraq, stating that Congress had already endorsed such an initiative through its 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein.
The 2002 measure, along with the congressional resolution passed one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks authorizing military action “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States,” permits indefinite combat operations in Iraq, according to a statement by the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs.
The statement came in response to lawmakers’ demands that the administration submit to Congress for approval any agreement with Iraq. U.S. officials are traveling to Baghdad this week with drafts of two documents — a status-of-forces agreement and a separate “strategic framework” — that they expect to sign with the Iraqi government by the end of July. It is to go into effect when the current U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31.
Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), whose questions at a House hearing Tuesday elicited the administration statement, described it as an “open-ended, never-ending authority for the administration to be at war in Iraq forever with no limitations.” The conditions of 2002 no longer exist, he said.
“I don’t think anybody argues today that Saddam Hussein is a threat,” Ackerman said. “Is it the government of Iraq that’s a threat?”