Barbara Lee on vote against the Afghanistan war, vindication – Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Twenty yrs in the past, Rep. Barbara Lee stood earlier than her House colleagues an…….


Twenty yrs in the past, Rep. Barbara Lee stood earlier than her House colleagues and pleaded with them To not give Prefacetnt Bush a clear look at to wage wrestle as quickly as extrast the distant, lawmuch less nation accused of harboring the Sept. 11 terrorists.

“Let’s simply pause, Solely for a minute, and assume by way of the implications of our movements right now, So as that This Does not spiral Uncontrolled,” she said to them days after the assaults.

With the lovely fall of Kabul to the Taliban this week, the Oakland lawmaker has been heralded as an ignored oracle, The one member of Congress to foresee an endmuch less wrestle in Afghanistan Which might go amethod hundreds Of usa residents and Afghans lifemuch less.

Lee didn’t know in September 2001 that she Can be The one no vote on the Authorization for Using Army Strain thOn The house accredited, 420 to 1, after the assaults that felled The twin towers of the World Commerce Center, left the Pentin the pastn billowing in smoke and dpersonaled a passenger airplane in Pennsylvania.

She didn’t anticipate that vote to be a profession-defining second, extensively praised as an act of political braveness.

Nor did she anticipate the demise threats and vilification that adopted for a quantity of yrs.

However by way of All of it — The united statesand dpersonals of the pricey wrestle, the overshadowing of Afghanistan by The subsequent Iraq wrestle, the killing of Osama bin Laden and finally the rising acceptance by her colleagues thOn the battle as quickly as extrast the Taliban might by no means be gained — Lee said she by no means wavered on one factor: the conviction that she was on The biggest facet of historic previous.

“No method,” she said in an interview when requested if she ever had second ideas. “I did A lot of Eager about that. I talked to constitutional legal professionals about that. I’m A particular person Of religion. I prayed over that. And we’re people, as a Outcome of All of us make errors. So that’s the calculated hazard Eachtime you forged a vote Which will or May be not the despatchediment of The primaryity. However no.”

And Lee didn’t sprime with that single vote of disapproval. For 20 yrs she has continued to wrestle as quickly as extrast the wrestle, foyering members to repeal the military authorization, pestering every new prefacetnt to wind dpersonal the stopping and turning into an antiwrestle cruunhappyer to convey U.S. troops home, and for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority to declare wrestle.

Lee said she typically gainedders what would have occurred if her colleagues had taken A pair Of further days to debate the 2001 decision, which gave the prefacetnt power To make the most of all “needed and relevant force” as quickly as extrast anyone involved in any method with the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults.

She’s prolonged careworn that she was by no means Against any military intervention in Afghanistan. Her cas quickly asrn was giving a prefacetnt such broad, endmuch less power to take military movement. And she or he questioned how Congress Could have responded if give The selection of diplomatic options.

“However we don’t know,” she said. “We don’t as a Outcome of nofactor else was on the desk.”

Critics On the time dubbed Lee, the daughter of a veteran, a starry-eyed liberal, un-American, even a traitor. Hate mail and threats flowed in. She was assigned a Capitol Police element.

Again home, voter assist for Lee by no means wavered. Decrease than a month after the vote, a crowd Of three,000 cheered her identify in dpersonaltpersonal Oakland at a rally organized by actor Danny Glover and author Alice Walker.

Since then, Lee has by no means acquired much less than 81% of the votes forged in her district. In 2020, she was reelected with 90.37%.

A yr after that fateful vote, the nation’s consideration was shifting to the brewing battle with Iraq.

By 2003, Protection Secretary Donald Rumsfeld introduced that “primary fight” operations in Afghanistan had ended. Although stopping continued between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed interim Afghan authorities, terrorist assaults and the rising insurgency in Iraq turned The mannequin new prime U.S. military priorities.

Lee said she quickly started To discover a shift in public opinion. Returning veterans and grass-roots activists demanded to know why Congress had provided such open-ended authority to the prefacetnt. A few Of people who as quickly as despatched her hate mail informed Lee they now thought she had been proper.

Lee credit activists for progressively smethoding public opinion on The two wrestles.

“We had An prolonged-time period method — myself, a quantity of completely different members And out of doorways organizations. And we simply said, ‘We’re simply going To primarytain at it,’” she said.

Slowly Lee drew allies to her set off. First have been two extra California Democrats, Reps. Maxine Waters of L. a. and Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma.

Since the Bush administration Did not uncover the prolonged-alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Congress members flocked To hitch the Out of Iraq Caucus in 2005, collectively with some Republicans, starting with the now-deceased Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina.

Eight yrs after the wrestle started, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) declared she would by no means as quickly as extra pressure members of her Democratic caucus to vote for Afghanistan supplemental funding.

By 2010, Democrats had created the Out of Afghanistan Caucus. Democrats added to their celebration platform the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Lee serves on the platform-writing committee.

After overseeing a surge in troops in 2009 and the killing of Bin Laden in 2011, Prefacetnt Obama set out a plan To go amethod Afghanistan in his second time period.

An more and more wrestle-weary Congress was becoming a member of Lee’s Requires A discount in troops, with an unusual alliance of antiwrestle liberals and fiscally conservative Republicans demanding an exit method for Afghanistan.

Inside the early days, Lee said the advertising campaign was difficult by the turnover of congressional seats. Each two yrs she and assisters Needed to foyer A mannequin new crop of members on The drawback.

Since the yrs handed, she found extra members coming into Congress already questioning why youngsters of The primary group of troopers despatched to Afghanistan have been now serving excursions of Their very personal.

Solely 13 Californians who voted on that unique 2001 authorization nonethemuch less serve in Congress. About 25% of all House members who took that preliminary vote stay in office.

Regardmuch less of rising assist, Lee has been unable to overturn that preliminary, broad authorization That every prefacetnt has since used to simplyify using military movement someplace On the earth.

This summer time the White House said Biden Can be open to discussing modifications to the authority, but made no particular commitments.

Lee assists Biden’s choice to withdraw from Afghanistan, but was alarmed by the chaos that has unfolded this week at Kabul’s airport. She is scrambling to do what She will To assist constituents get their households out.

“I used to be very unhappy, upset, indignant and anxious Regarding the evacuation,” Lee said. “In Some strategies I felt actually unhappy, virtually like after 9-11, to see all of this human tragedy Happen in entrance of our eyes.”