Obama tells Congress: I don’t need your permission on Iraq

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Barack-ObamaI’ll let you know what’s going on, but I don’t need new congressional authority to act, President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Wednesday about his upcoming decision on possible military intervention in Iraq.

The White House meeting sounded more like a listening session for the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate about options for helping Iraq’s embattled Shiite government halt the lightning advance of Sunni Islamist fighters toward Baghdad that Obama is considering.

According to a White House statement, Obama went over U.S. efforts to “strengthen the capacity of Iraq’s security forces to confront the threat” from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, “including options for increased security assistance.”

Earlier, spokesman Jay Carney spelled out one limit to any U.S. help, saying: “The President hasn’t ruled out anything except sending U.S. combat troops into Iraq.”

While the White House statement emphasized Obama would continue to consult with Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President “basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take.”
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California agreed with McConnell’s assessment, adding she believed congressional authorization for military force in Iraq back in 2001 and 2003 still applied.

Obama “did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take,” Pelosi said. “He just talked about his perspective on what was happening there.”

A few hours earlier, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said they were working out details on possible U.S. steps that could include airstrikes on Sunni militants advancing through northern Iraq.

‘Full range of options’

“I share alarm about the future of Iraq, and we are developing a full range of options to help stabilize the region,” Dempsey said at a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

He and Hagel noted that final details, especially for airstrikes requested by the Iraqi government, required more intelligence on the ISIS fighters whose lightning sweep of Sunni territory has raised the specter of a partitioned Iraq and a broader Sunni-Shiite regional war.

They agreed with subcommittee members that the Iraq crisis amounted to a threat to U.S. interests in the region and, down the road, a possible threat to the U.S. homeland if northern Iraq and neighboring Syria become a safe haven for al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a conservative hawk critical of what he considers to be a weak U.S. foreign policy under Obama, noted that ISIS fighters have threatened to attack the United States.

‘High-risk scenario’

“Although currently a regional threat, they do have aspirations to attack Western interests,” Dempsey said, calling the safe haven outcome outlined by Graham a “high-risk scenario.”

“Yeah, to our homeland being attacked by this group,” Graham countered, to which Dempsey responded, “not at this time but over time.”

When Graham asked about possible U.S. airstrikes on the militant forces, Dempsey confirmed reports that the Iraqi government had requested them and added that it was “in our national security interest to counter” the ISIS fighters “wherever we find them.”

At the White House, Carney made clear that Obama’s “ultimate objective” was to protect U.S. national security interests and prevent the region from becoming a safe haven for ISIS extremists.

“Any action that he might contemplate when it comes to … the use of military force will be to deal with the immediate and medium-term threat posed by ISIL,” Carney said, noting that 170 U.S. military personnel have been sent to Baghdad to assist in securing embassy personnel inside Iraq, while another 100 moved into the region to “provide airfield management security and logistic support, if required.”

Like other administration officials, he referred to the militants by the abbreviation for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, rather than the common translation of the name that includes Syria.

A draft list of possible ISIS targets in Iraq is being constantly reviewed and revised with the latest intelligence, typical of any preliminary targeting operation, according to U.S. military officials who spoke on the condition of not being identified.

Compiling the draft list does not signal that Obama will authorize such strikes, and several administration officials said the President has yet to make a final decision.

Manned reconnaissance

Several military sources also confirmed to CNN the start of manned reconnaissance flights over Iraq to collect up-to-the-minute intelligence on ISIS movements and positions. Unmanned reconnaissance flights have been going on for several days.

In order to use precision-guided weapons, satellite coordinates generally would have to be loaded into them well in advance. That means the Defense Department needs to be ready to move quickly if Obama announces a decision to strike.

The “kinetic” option against ISIS targets could include dropping precision-guided bombs from manned aircraft flying overhead, using Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from Navy ships in the Arabian Gulf or using drones to fire missiles.

Military officials told CNN that the drone option was considered the least desirable because they fire against relatively small specific targets such as vehicles or individual suspected terrorists.

For days, military sources have said ISIS fighters are dispersed and mixed in with local populations, making them difficult to target precisely with airstrikes.

Washington political fight

On Capitol Hill, political leaders who later met with Obama sparred over the Iraq crisis in a debate intensified by the hyperpartisan atmosphere of an election year.

House Speaker John Boehner demanded that Obama lay out a “broader strategy” for how the United States should deal with the growing sectarian violence in Iraq when he and other top congressional leaders meet with the President at the White House.

Boehner sidestepped a question about whether he supported airstrikes and said it’s up to the President to lay out what to do next.

“I’m looking for the overall strategy that will help secure the gains that we have made,” Boehner said.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke out forcefully against sending U.S. service members into the middle of sectarian strife.

“This is an Iraqi civil war, and it is time for Iraqis to resolve it themselves,” the Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor. “It is not worth the blood of American service members. It is not worth the monetary cost to the American taxpayer.”

CNN

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10 responses to “Obama tells Congress: I don’t need your permission on Iraq”

  1. arzatna1 Avatar
    arzatna1

    It seems Obama this time is sure what he wants to do unlike last time when he asked for congressional approval for action on Syria. He didn’t ‘ need congressional approval on Syria either , but he was hesitant and not sure what to do and used that as an excuse for doing nothing
    Perhaps if he took action on Syria , Iraq won’t be in this position today.
    Former US VP Dick Cheney wrote in an article titled” The Collapsing Obama Doctrine”:
    : “Rarely has a US president been so wrong about so much.”

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Sometimes, they learn while in office. 😉

  2. Reasonableman Avatar
    Reasonableman

    Its contradictive obama administration urges and encourages the maliki lunatic government to “engage in dialogue and give the sunnis their due rights and not to marginalise and capitalize and paralyse their rights”
    Whilst at the same time wish to destroy ISIS because of speculations that ISIS seek to destroy the west….not now but later….

    Clearly he needs to tak his own advice as he speaks whilst reflecting upon what the west has sparked in the middle east by sleeping with the raafida devils.

    America now can see the khawarij ISIS give iran an excuse to capitalize and invade iraqs oil fields and stab america in the back.

    1. man-o-war Avatar
      man-o-war

      “Maliki lunatic government”, lol!
      Would you prefer we go back to the sane Saddam government?

      “speculations that ISIS seek to destroy the west”, is it speculation when they openly claim to want to raise the black flag of Islam over the White House?

      1. Reasonableman Avatar
        Reasonableman

        He(maliki) is a sectarian lunatic.
        When he (obama)promotes sunni equality and at the same time feel by given them equality it will harm the west…not now but later…. its a contradicting speech full of evil outcomes and no real solution.

        Saddam oppressed alot of rafida but killed more sunnis, I do prefer him (saddam)as he atleast is more balanced in his dealings and possesses a lesser evil outcome.

        1. man-o-war Avatar
          man-o-war

          Ok, maybe he’s too sectarian. Maybe Iraq should just abolish the position of president all together. It gives people a superiority complex.

          Obama promotes Sunni equality, but not equality for the Islamist extremist. They deserve to be hunted in every corner of the globe and snuffed out. I’m talking about the Islamist that preform suicide bombings on civilians. Ones that scream Allah is great as they decapitate their enemy. ISIS for example should be destroyed. There is no room for that kind of ideology.

          I don’t think wanting Sunni equality is the same as wanting equality for terrorist organizations that happen to be Sunni.

          “rafida”? Why use this term when referring to Shi’ite? It has a negative meaning in todays world and shows contempt towards people who believe different than you.

          Would you be Ok with a Sectarian government ruling Iraq if it was Sunni?

          1. Reasonableman Avatar
            Reasonableman

            It seems asif your asking me would i be ok with a sunni sectarian government with a gun to my head questioning my loyalty, Im not a supporter of extremists or foreign intervention which capitalizes on the weak.

            Raafidah is too complex for a simple person like me to explain, look up the meaning of shiite and why they broke away and labelled themself a breakaway group. If anything they take it as a compliment

            The uprisings were kicking off way before syria with iraqi tribesmen standing their ground and they too are reffered as terrorist by the west, ISIS magnifyed and drowned the original sunni victories by claiming it at theres causing a thunderstorm of confusion.
            Who is gaining? IRAN is gaining
            1.media coverage has shifted from syria and egypt to iraq.
            2.pretext to invade has arisen
            3.their oil is selling much quicker then what it was originally.
            4.ISIS are the only dedicated force to fighting AQ and other sunnis in todays world as the western troops head home.

  3. man-o-war Avatar
    man-o-war

    While I’m sure the Sunni minority was discriminated against after the fall of Saddam, but after the years and years of oppression by the Sunni minority what did you expect?

    Instead of trying to come to a political solution the Sunni extremists in Iraq did what they do best. They began “martyrdom operations” against the Shi’ite population killing thousands of Iraqi civilians every year. Now the ISIS terrorist are hell bent on the destruction of the Shi’ite religious sites, why? What purpose does that serve? They’re going around executing civilians and captured soldiers/police officers. These terrorist need to be dealt with. There will never be an Islamic caliphate again, get over it. If you want equal representation in Iraq than ask for it now. Hold the killing and negotiate. They have gained lots of ground and are in a more powerful position, it can be done. Or do they want full control of the country? Will they not be satisfied until they destroy the Shi’ite holy sites? Until the Shi’ite of Iraq are living under their foot again.

    “The UN has said that 5,740 civilians have been killed in Iraq in 2013”, suicide bombings after suicide bombings. Mostly in civilian areas. Cowards!

    http://www.uniraq.Org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1499:un-casualty-figures-for-december-2013-deadliest-since-2008-in-iraq&Itemid=633&lang=en

    1. 5thDrawer Avatar
      5thDrawer

      Doesn’t look like a Brit. The ‘passports of convenience’ allowed by a ‘free’ world serve only the devils that take full advantage of anyone to achieve their agendas, when the bleeding hearts they abuse have given in to them.

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