Obama not going to ask permission of Congress to send military aid to Iraq
President Obama told members of Congress in a White House briefing that he feels he has all the authority he needs from previous congressional resolutions to do anything he wants militarily in Iraq.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out that the 2003 resolution authorization the use military force - AUMF - is still in effect, despite White House efforts over the years to repeal it.
The president is basing his claim that he doesn't need approval from Congress to act militarily in Iraq on a law he doesn't support and would like to repeal
Pelosi told reporters that she agreed that the president has all of the authorities that he needs in the authorizations to use military force passed by Congress previously.
“All of the authorities are there. That doesn’t mean I want all of them to be used, especially boots on the ground,” she said. “But I definitely think the president has all of the authority he needs by dint of legislation that was passed in 2001 and 2003.”
She appeared to be referring to the authorizations to use military force passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 2002 authorization to use force in Iraq. Neither of those authorizations have expired, although the official White House position is that the Iraq authorization should be repealed.
Pelosi said the president didn’t lay out what actions he intended to take but instead laid out his thinking on what was happening in Iraq.
Reid also called the meeting “a good meeting.”
“Everybody seemed satisfied,” Reid said. “The president is going to keep us as informed as informed as he can as the process moves forward.”
He declined to comment further, saying that it was a “private” meeting.
The White House issued a readout of the meeting saying the president talked about possible increase security assistance to Iraq, but did not mention strikes.
Earlier, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney deflected a question about congressional authorization, saying, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, if we come to it.”
Carney repeatedly said, however, that the president wants to avoid Iraq becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
Obama’s own party has been wary of getting entangled in Iraq again, although Obama has ruled out sending ground forces into combat.
Meanwhile, calls from administration officials and members of Congress for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continue to grow.
The United States, which invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein and withdrew its troops in 2011, has said Iraq's government must take steps toward sectarian reconciliation before Obama will decide on any military action against the insurgency led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, an al Qaeda splinter group.
Maliki has so far shown little willingness to create a more inclusive administration.
"The Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation," said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
'HIS TIME IS UP'
Republican Senator John McCain, speaking in the Senate, called for the use of American air power, but also urged Obama to "make it make very clear to Maliki that his time is up."
The Obama administration has not openly sought Maliki's departure, but has shown signs of frustration with him.
"This current government in Iraq has never fulfilled the commitments it made to bring a unity government together with the Sunnis, the Kurds and the Shia," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the congressional hearing.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Maliki had not done enough "to govern inclusively and that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq."
He stopped short of calling for Maliki - in power for eight years and the effective winner of a parliamentary election two months ago - to resign. Asked if Maliki should step down, Carney told reporters: "That's not, obviously, for us to decide."
Although Obama is continuing to deliberate on what action to take, the president - who won the 2008 election on a platform calling for an orderly withdrawal from the unpopular war in Iraq - has ruled out sending troops back into combat there. Some in the anti-war camp of Obama's Democratic Party oppose any military action that could drag the United States back into the conflict, and he is apparently wary of such a risk.
Maliki isn't going anywhere. As long as he has the support of his Shia base, he will up the ante and place more and more blame for Iraq's troubles on Sunni "traitors." It's like pouring gasoline on to a fire, and few Sunnis - even those who support a united Iraq - are supporting Maliki.
The civil war has already started. The only question is, can it be contained? As long as Maliki insists on fighting a sectarian conflict instead of a nationalistic war, ther's not telling how big and bloody it will get in Iraq.