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Lee says drone memo should drive Congress to act

The Obama Administration’s newly revealed legal rationale for using drones to kill U.S. citizens involved in anti-American terrorism should help convince Congress to repeal the broad use-of-force authorization it in 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee said today.

Lee, D-Oakland, was the lone vote against that authorization on Sept. 14, 2001.

“We must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target,” she said that day, later calling the authorization “a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events – anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.”

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)Lee has been trying to get Congress to repeal the authorization ever since, and believes it’s the basis for policies such as those allowing drone strikes against U.S. citizens. She said Wednesday she was happy to hear President Obama affirm in his Jan. 21 inauguration speech that “a decade of war is now ending” and “we, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

But to end perpetual war, “one of the steps that has to be taken is repealing that terrible resolution … an overly broad blank check that has been used over and over and over again to keep us in a state of perpetual war,” Lee said. “I’m going to fight until we get it done.”

She said she’s seeking co-signers on a letter asking the administration for a more specific explanation of its legal justifications for the drone strikes. Getting more information means raising awareness, Lee said, and that can lead to more support from both sides of the aisle.

Lee’s H.R. 198 says the September 2001 authorization of military force “has been used to justify a broad and open-ended authorization for the use of military force and such an interpretation is inconsistent with the authority of Congress to declare war and make all laws for executing powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States.” It would repeal the authorization effective 180 days after the bill’s enactment.

Introduced Jan. 4, the bill has five cosponsors: John Conyers, D-Mich.; Donna Edwards, D-Md.; Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.; and Walter Jones, R-N.C.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    @49 Bruce R. Peterson

    I merely pointed out the reality that a large, even overwhelming margin of victory in a congressional district is not proof of a candidate’s virtues. I make the same comment to my best friend from Tyler, Texas regarding his Congressman, Louie Gohmert — a man to whom I would use the word “idiot” with no hesitation whatever.

    Barbara Lee is from the left wing of the Democratic party. She represents a very liberal district, where the people who go the the polls for primary elections are even further to the left. If you agree with the views of the left wing of the Democratic party, you like her. If you’re moderate, she often makes your eyes roll.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    @ 50 & 51. Thanks for the education. You enticed me to walk around Barbara Lee’s neighborhood Saturday afternoon. I watched the sun set over San Francisco from her front yard. She is almost as far removed from the killings in Oakland as I am. It made me wonder why she would want to ban assault weapons, when she should have one herself. Her neighborhood is filled with signs about cameras. It reminded me of when I rang the doorbell of a liberal, wealthy neighbor who I had not seen in years, who did not answer the door, but described me to the police. I had the cop laughing when her backup arrived.
    I view things from the right & the left. I am known as a conservative radical. When the corrupt U.S. CIA is killing people in countries we are not at war with, but mat be in the future, if the CIA keeps up killing people by remote control, because our troops are not allowed on their land. So on this subject, I agree with pinko commies, Barbara Jean Lee & Susan “Medea Benjamin. Not the snipers, Woody & Johnny.