The Bush administration has taken a series of steps in recent weeks that appear to be setting the stage for a military confrontation with Iran. Congressional leaders have been raising red flags. “I’d like to be clear,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last week. “The president does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization.” Recent comments made by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) explain why Congress’s resistance is so vital.
In an interview in GQ Magazine, Hagel reveals that the Bush administration tried to get Congress to approve military action anywhere in the Middle East — not just in Iraq — in the fall of 2002. At the time, Hagel says, the Bush administration presented Congress with a resolution that would have authorized the use of force anywhere in the region:
HAGEL: [F]inally, begrudgingly, [the White House] sent over a resolution for Congress to approve. Well, it was astounding. It said they could go anywhere in the region.
GQ: It wasn’t specific to Iraq?
HAGEL: Oh no. It said the whole region! They could go into Greece or anywhere. Is central Asia in the region? I suppose! Sure as hell it was clear they meant the whole Middle East. It was anything. It was literally anything. No boundaries. No restrictions.
GQ: They expected Congress to let them start a war anywhere in the Middle East?
HAGEL: Yes. Yes. Wide open. We had to rewrite it. Joe Biden, Dick Lugar, and I stripped the language that the White House had set up and put our language in it.
Asked about his vote in support of the final Iraq war resolution, Hagel told GQ, “Do I regret that vote? Yes, I do regret that vote.”