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30 Organizations Call on Congress to Prohibit Unauthorized War with Iran

September 17, 2019

The Honorable James Inhofe Chairman,
Senate Committee on Armed Services Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Adam Smith Chairman,
House Armed Service Committee Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Armed Services Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mac Thornberry Ranking Member,
House Armed Service Committee Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Thornberry:

As pro-diplomacy organizations that oppose unauthorized war with Iran, we call on the National Defense Authorization Act conferees to retain language supported by a bipartisan majority in both chambers that would prohibit funds for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly signaled its intent to subvert Congress’ constitutional prerogative to decide when the United States will and will not go to war. The Administration violated and abandoned the agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear activities and engaged in a series of escalations with Iran. While Iran has ratcheted up the tension with destabilizing actions of its own, the Trump Administration’s provocations and saber rattling have made conflict, not diplomacy, more likely. Having reportedly come within minutes of launching a military strike on Iran a few months ago, the president has again threatened the imminent use of force in response to attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.

The question of whether American forces should be put in harm’s way is one of the utmost gravity. The Constitution gives the power of the purse and the power to declare war to Congress, and Congress alone. Congress needs to assert its constitutional powers to prevent decisions about the use of force being made by an administration that has acted with gross recklessness and profoundly weakened key alliances and multilateral partnerships essential to addressing threats from Iran. Escalation by the United States risks both further alienation and getting mired in another disastrous war in the region.

Bipartisan majorities in both chambers support blocking funds for unauthorized military strikes against Iran. Although the Senate bill did not include such a provision, 51 Senators indicated their support for the Kaine-Udall amendment that would have added it to the Senate-passed version of the legislation. In the House, 251 Representatives voted for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment prohibiting funds from being used for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

Given the bipartisan majority in both chambers supportive of ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran, the conferees must ensure the Khanna-Gaetz amendment is fully included in the final bill.

Failing to honor the will of the American people’s elected representatives on this point, at the very moment the administration is barreling toward an unauthorized and costly war of choice, would be an undemocratic and historic abdication of constitutional responsibility.

Signed,

American College of National Security Leaders
Americans for Peace Now
Arab American Institute
Arms Control Association
Center for American Progress
Center for International Policy
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Common Defense
Council for a Livable World
CREDO Action
Demand Progress
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Foreign Policy for America
Global Security Institute
Indivisible
J Street 
Just Foreign Policy
MoveOn
NIAC Action
Open Society Policy Center
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Ploughshares Fund
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Truman National Security Project
T’ruah
VoteVets
Union of Concerned Scientists
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

cc: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

Call Congress: Tell Them to Stop Trump’s Path to War with Iran

This is an emergency. We’ve never been this close to military action against Iran. Now is the time that we must reach out to our members of Congress to make sure they put a check on the warmongering administration. Given the seriousness of the situation, we need to act now, and calling is our most effective option.

Calling your member of Congress is easy, just follow these steps:

1) Call 1-844-ACT-NIAC to reach the Congressional Hotline and ask to be connected to your Representative.

You can find out who your Representative is by clicking here.

2) Follow this script:

“My name is XX and I’m a constituent from YYtown. I’m concerned that we are closer than ever before to a war with Iran, which would be a disaster for the United States, Middle East and people of Iran. What are you doing to make sure that Trump doesn’t launch an unauthorized war?

Don’t have time to make a call? Fill out the action alert below to send an email to your representatives:

NIAC Action Joins 200+ NGOs to Tell Congress: Cut ICE And CBP Funding

NIAC Action joined a group of more than 200 organizations calling on Congress to cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) detention, enforcement, and border militarization programs as well as to ensure that appropriated funds are not abused by the administration. The letter comes as Congress prepares to consider and pass legislation funding the government for the upcoming fiscal year.

From the Muslim ban to locking kids in cages, the Trump administration has done profound damage to America’s immigration policies and moral standing. Yet, the President has encountered minimal resistance from Congress as budgets for DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continue to rise in spite of the horrific abuses they perpetrate. 

In joining more than 200 organizations, NIAC Action is encouraging Congress to use the power of the purse to rein in these abuses. The letter calls for decreased funding for detention and agents, as well as no funding for the border wall. Moreover, it calls for an end to unlawful deportations and guardrails to ensure nobody is detained by CBP for longer than 72 hours.

NIAC Action remains committed to fighting for just and equitable immigration policies.

Read the full text of the letter below.

Defund-Hate_NGO-Sign-on_FY20-DHS-Priorities_Sept-2019

Key War Amendments Subject of Upcoming Congressional Negotiations

Over the next few weeks, key legislators in Congress will negotiate the final details of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense policy bill that is viewed as a “must-pass” piece of legislation. Those negotiations will determine the fate of several amendments that passed the House of Representatives, including several supported by NIAC Action to prevent a war with Iran.

This week, NIAC Action joined more than 60 organizations in signing a letter calling on Congressional negotiators to support the repeal of the 2002 authorization for use of military force that Congress passed to authorize the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq in 2002. As the letter – spearheaded by our colleagues at the Friends Committee on National Legislation – states, “leaving the 2002 Iraq AUMF in place renders it susceptible to misuse by this or a future president.” The administration has, concerningly, held open the possibility that it could utilize the 2001 or 2002 authorization as a legal green light for war with Iran. NIAC Action supported the amendment, which passed the House and is now a subject for negotiations with the Senate for final passage. 

NIAC Action additionally continues to strongly support the amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that would clarify that the Trump administration does not have Congressional authorization for military action against Iran. This week, ten high-ranking retired military officers drafted a letter to Congress calling for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment’s passage in the final NDAA. According to the letter from military veterans, organized by VoteVets, “The idea that we would enter yet another war in the Middle East without a clear national security interest, defined mission, and withdrawal strategy is unacceptable to America’s veterans and our allies across the political spectrum.” The amendment successfully passed the House and garnered the support of a majority in the Senate

NIAC Action will continue to closely track these amendments and argue forcefully for Congress to make clear that Trump cannot take us to an unauthorized war with Iran.

Please see the full text of the coalition letter on the 2002 authorization below.


September 10, 2019

The Honorable James Inhofe
Chairman, Armed Services Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Adam Smith
Chairman, Armed Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mac Thornberry
Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

 

Re: 2002 Iraq AUMF Repeal Provision in National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

We, the undersigned, are a diverse group of organizations with a range of missions and perspectives from across the ideological spectrum. As you work to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), we strongly urge you to retain in the conference version of the bill the provision from the House passed bill, H.R. 2500, to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq (2002 Iraq AUMF) (PL 107–243). This provision is included in H.R. 2500 as Section 1270W.

Repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF would reassert Congress’ constitutional duty to determine whether and when the United States chooses war. It would remove an outdated force authorization that is not required for any ongoing operations, while protecting against its abuse by this or any future president to justify unforeseen and unauthorized new wars.

Congress passed the 2002 Iraq AUMF to authorize force against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime in order to defend the United States against the threat posed by the regime’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction.[1] While this threat proved unfounded, the mission undertaken pursuant to the 2002 Iraq AUMF – designated “Operation Iraqi Freedom” – began on March 20, 2003, and officially ended on December 11, 2011.

Since this time, the 2002 Iraq AUMF has been repurposed by successive presidents for military activities unrelated to the Saddam Hussein regime. Both the Trump and Obama administrations have used the 2002 Iraq AUMF as supplemental authority for operations that they have claimed are being conducted pursuant to the 2001 AUMF in Iraq and Syria, including operations against ISIS.[2]

Repealing this outdated authorization would put an end to such unconstitutional repurposing of war authorizations without impacting current operations. The 2002 Iraq AUMF has never been cited as the sole authority to justify any current U.S. military operations. Indeed, Acting State Department Legal Adviser Marik String testified in a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that he was “not aware” of any situation where the administration was relying solely on the 2002 Iraq AUMF for present military operations.[3]

Yet leaving the 2002 Iraq AUMF in place renders it susceptible to misuse by this or a future president. Last year the administration claimed that the 2002 Iraq AUMF authorized the use of force to address “threats to, or stemming from, Iraq” in “in Syria or elsewhere.”[4] This dangerous interpretation goes far beyond congressional intent and serves as a ticking time bomb that paves the way for the Executive Branch to draw the United States into further wars that were not even contemplated, let alone authorized, 17 years ago. Any new war must be specifically approved by Congress, as required under the Constitution.

Article I of the Constitution vests in Congress—as the branch most accountable to the American people—the responsibility to determine whether, when, and where to go to war. Congress should seize the opportunity to exercise its constitutional war powers by repealing the 2002 Iraq AUMF. This would remove an unnecessary force authorization and ensure that it cannot be exploited by the Executive Branch to start new, unauthorized wars.

We strongly urge you to retain in the conference version of the NDAA Section 1270W of H.R. 2500 to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Cc: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House and Senate NDAA Conferees

Sincerely,

About Face: Veterans Against the War
Action Corps
Action Corps NYC
Action Corps, Indianapolis
American Civil Liberties Union
American Friends Service Committee
Antiwar.com
Avaaz Bridges Faith Initiative Campaign for liberty
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for International Policy Center for Victims of Torture
Center on Conscience & War Coalition for Peace Action
CODEPINK
Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy
Common Defense
Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Council for a Livable World
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Justice Action Network
Environmentalists Against War
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Foreign Policy for America
Franciscan Action Network
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Human Rights First
Indivisible
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
Just Foreign Policy
Justice for Muslims
Collective Libertarian Institute
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Iranian American Council
National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Nonviolence International
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Peace Tax Foundation
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Project On Government Oversight
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
The Yemen Peace Project
Truman Center for National Policy
United Church of Christ United for Peace and Justice
VoteVets
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions
World BEYOND War

[1] For more on the legislative history of the 2002 Iraq AUMF see Tess Bridgeman, “Now is the Time to Repeal the 2002 AUMF,” July 11, 2019, https://www.justsecurity.org/64885/now-is-the-time-to-repeal-the-2002-aumf/.

[2] Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations, March 16, 2019, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4411804/3-18-WarPowers-Transparency-Report.pdf; Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations, December 5, 2016, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/05/fact-sheet-presidential-memorandum-legal-andpolicy-transparency. 

[3] Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Reviewing Authorities for the Use of Military Force, July 24, 2019, https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/reviewing-authorities-for-the-use-of-military-force-072419.

[4] Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations, March 16, 2018, https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4411804/3-18-WarPowers-Transparency-Report.pdf.

Celebrating #TeamZahra on Women’s Equality Day

August 26 marks Women’s Equality Day, a day to celebrate those brave women who fought for, and achieved, much deserved gains in equality since ratifying the 19th Constitutional Amendment. We have gotten as far as we have on gender equality because their courage paved the way for the generations that followed. Their resolve, leadership, and undeniable determination undoubtedly changed for the better America and its future leaders.  

And the momentum hasn’t faltered since. 

On this day, NIAC Action would like to honor another trailblazing woman, Zahra Karinshak. In 2018, Zahra made history on her first day as a State Senator when she was sworn in as Georgia’s first Iranian-American legislator. Soon after her first legislative session began, Zahra became the leading opponent of anti-abortion legislation and co-sponsored legislation to require schools to support young students with dyslexia. 

Zahra, who was endorsed by President Obama and Planned Parenthood in the last cycle, is also a proud U.S. Air Force veteran and federal prosecutor. Making history once again, she is taking her fight for equality to Capitol Hill as the first Iranian-American woman to run for Congress in Georgia’s 7th district. 

Zahra’s commitment to public service knows no bounds as she joins the many women leaders before her whose hard-fought accomplishments have shaped and strengthened our communities and democracy. NIAC Action is proud to have endorsed Zahra Karinshak in her Congressional raceand we can’t wait to see what more she has in store not only for the state of Georgia, but for the entire nation.

Learn more about and support Zahra here.

NIAC Action Commends Lee-Schakowsky-Price Resolution on JCPOA Return

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago, Reps. Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, and David Price introduced a resolution calling for the United States to return to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran deal, from which Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018.

In response, NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal has put the U.S. on the brink of war with Iran and threatened to undo the hard won constraints against Iran’s nuclear program. Thankfully, many Members of Congress recognize that there is no military solution to the present crisis, and that the best way to de-escalate is for the U.S. to return to compliance with the nuclear deal. Representatives Lee, Schakowsky and Price should be commended for their years of leadership in advancing peace and diplomacy, including by introducing this important resolution.

“NIAC strongly supports a U.S. return to its JCPOA commitments and first issued a white paper in support of such a move last November. We proudly supported the DNC’s adoption of a resolution committing to return the U.S. to its JCPOA commitments. And we advocated for and welcome the strong majority of Democratic Presidential contenders who have also committed to returning to our diplomatic obligations — including Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, Biden, Gabbard, and O’Rourke.

“There remains strong political will in Congress to restore U.S. credibility and engage Iran diplomatically–despite Trump and Bolton’s push for war. For Members of Congress and Presidential contenders, it is good and important to call out Trump’s dangerous moves that have taken us to the brink of war. Yet, the root cause of this crisis was Donald Trump’s decision to kill a strong nuclear agreement with Iran, which is why signaling support for a return to compliance is so important. The Lee-Schakowsky-Price resolution helps solidify the growing consensus for a JCPOA return while signaling that the window for diplomacy is not shut, nor is the opportunity to restore U.S. credibility with both the international community and the Iranian people.

“We thank Reps. Lee, Schakowsky, and Price for their leadership on this resolution and urge all of those who prefer diplomacy over war to cosponsor it and press for a vote.”

###

Background
The resolution was co-sponsored by Reps. Beyer, Blumenaeur, Cohen, Connolly, Doggett, Eshoo, Gallego, Grijalva, Haaland, Jayapal, Khanna, Levin Andy, Lowenthal, Payne, Jr., Pocan, Raskin, Welch, Yarmuth.

Pro-Diplomacy Organizations: NDAA Conferees Must Honor Bipartisan Majority’s Opposition to Unauthorized War with Iran

As pro-diplomacy organizations that oppose unauthorized war with Iran, we call on the National Defense Authorization Act conferees to retain language supported by a bipartisan majority in both chambers that would prohibit funds for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

The Trump Administration has repeatedly signaled its intent to subvert Congress’ constitutional prerogative to decide when the United States will and will not go to war. The Administration violated and abandoned the agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear activities and engaged in a series of escalations with Iran. While Iran has ratcheted up the tension in recent weeks, the Trump Administration’s provocations and saber rattling have made conflict, not negotiations, more likely.

The question of whether American forces should be put in harm’s way is one of the utmost gravity. The Constitution gives the power of the purse and the power to declare war to Congress, and Congress alone. Congress needs to assert its constitutional powers to prevent decisions about the use of force being made by an administration that has acted with gross recklessness and profoundly weakened key alliances and multilateral partnerships essential to addressing threats from Iran. Any unilateral escalation risks both further alienation and getting mired in another disastrous war in the region.

Bipartisan majorities in both chambers support blocking funds for unauthorized military strikes against Iran. Although the Senate bill did not include this provision, 51 Senators indicated their support for the Kaine-Udall amendment. 251 Representatives voted for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment prohibiting funds from being used for military action against Iran without explicit authorization from Congress.

Given the bipartisan majority in both chambers supportive of ruling out an unauthorized war with Iran, the conferees must ensure the Khanna-Gaetz amendment is fully included in the final bill.

Failing to honor the will of the American people’s elected representatives on this point, at the very moment the administration is barrelling toward an unauthorized and costly war of choice, would be an undemocratic and historic abdication of constitutional responsibility.

American College of National Security Leaders
Americans for Peace Now
Arab American Institute
Arms Control Association
Center for America Progress
Center for International Policy
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Common Defense
Council for a Livable World
CREDO Action
Demand Progress
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Foreign Policy for America
Global Security Institute
Indivisible
International Crisis Group
J Street
MoveOn
NIAC Action
Open Society Policy Center
Peace Action
Peace Corps Iran Association
Ploughshares Fund
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Truman National Security Project
T’ruah
VoteVets
Union of Concerned Scientists
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions

NIAC Applauds House for Pulling U.S. Back from the Brink of War with Iran via Khanna-Gaetz Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday July 12, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON DC – Moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to bar funding for an unauthorized war with Iran. The amendment passed with a final vote count of 251-170. The Khanna-Gaetz amendment was offered as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and builds on the momentum from last month’s Senate vote on the Kaine-Udall amendment, which also would have also blocked the Trump administration from launching an unauthorized war with Iran.

In response to the passage of the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, NIAC Action President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement:

“The House of Representatives should be applauded for its vote today to stop an unauthorized war with Iran before it starts, and we call on the Senate to follow suit. With the passage of the amendment from Representatives Ro Khanna and Matt Gaetz, legislators moved one step closer to pulling the U.S. back from the edge of a war that the American people do not want and that Congress has never authorized. With nearly all of the 2020 presidential candidates calling for the U.S. to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and now with the House passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, a bipartisan consensus against the Bolton-Pompeo approach to Iran has clearly emerged.

“Such safeguards would not be necessary if the Trump administration were not recklessly endangering American security with its incoherent maximum pressure approach toward Iran. Last month, the President took us ten minutes from war, which would have been certain to trigger Iranian reprisals and a long trail of consequences not confined within Iran’s borders. Both the President and his Secretary of State have intimated that they do not need Congressional approval to launch a war, with many Members of Congress alarmed by the administration’s transparent attempts to justify a war with Iran under the 2001 authorization to use military force.

“The Iranian-American community and the broader American public know that war with Iran would be a disaster. That’s why a majority in the House and Senate now are on the record voting for provisions to rule out an unauthorized war with Iran. It is imperative that legislators ensure that the final defense authorization bill includes the Khanna-Gaetz amendment.

“We applaud Reps. Khanna and Gaetz for their leadership. Without the help of Chairmen Eliot Engel, Adam Smith and Jim McGovern as well as Reps. Anna Eshoo, Seth Moulton, Anthony Brown, Barbara Lee and countless Americans who spoke out against war with Iran, this vote would not have been possible.”

Resources for #NoWarWithIran Town Halls

We’re working to advance peace & diplomacy with Iran, but we need your help to make it happen. Join a local NIAC Action team to attend local events and rallies and say #NoWarWithIran!

You can use the resources (like posters & graphics) below:

 

Design1

Click here to download this poster.

Design2

Click here to download this poster.

Design3

Click here to download this poster.

Design4

Click here to download this poster.


NoWarFlyer

Click here to download this flyer.

 

Call Your Senator: Stop Trump from Starting War with Iran

This is an emergency. We’ve never been this close to military action against Iran. Now is the time that we must reach out to our members of Congress to make sure they put a check on the warmongering administration. Given the seriousness of the situation, we need to act now, and calling is our most effective option.

On Friday, June 27, the Senate will vote on an amendment that would block an unauthorized war with Iran. With your help, we can put a concrete legislative roadblock between Trump and war with Iran.

Calling your Senator is easy, just follow these steps:

1) Call 1-844-ACT-NIAC to reach the Congressional Hotline and ask to be connected to your Senators.

You can find out who your Senators are by clicking here.

2) Follow this script:

“My name is XX and I’m a constituent from YYtown. I’m concerned that we are closer than ever before to a war with Iran, which would be a disaster for the United States, Middle East and people of Iran. I strongly urge the Senator to support the Kaine-Udall-Paul amendment to block an Iran war, and to oppose a vote on the defense authorization if there is no vote. Does the Senator support the Kaine-Udall-Paul amendment?“

 

Don’t have time to make a call? Fill out the action alert below to send an email to your representatives: