Hands off Persepolis

 

Three ways you can help prevent a war with Iran

The news that the United States assassinated IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has brought the U.S. dangerously close to war with Iran. The last thing this country or the world needs is another disastrous American military adventure in the Middle East. We need Congress to immediately put forward legislation that would rein in Trump’s ability to start a war with Iran. But if we expect them to act, we need to take action NOW. 

Here are three ways to help:

📋 Sign our petition calling on Congress to block Trump’s war with Iran. If you have already signed, share the link on social media and text ten of your friends to sign as well.

✊🏼 Show up to a protest near you TOMORROW. NIAC is cosponsoring anti-war demonstrations across the country tomorrow, January 4 to call for no war with Iran. Find a demonstration near you here and download NIAC Action’s anti-war signs here.

💪🏼 Sign up to volunteer. We have volunteer chapters all across the country and plenty of opportunities to get involved. Whether it’s mobilizing Iranian Americans to take action, meeting with your member of Congress, or working with the media, there is a place for you. Sign up to volunteer here. 

Please join the effort today and help us prevent a disastrous war with Iran.

Letter Opposing Draconian U.S. Sanctions on Iran Causing Shortages of Life Saving Medicine

📋 Take action here to tell your Members of Congress to sign this letter!

 

November XX, 2019

The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin

Secretary

Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, DC 20220

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, 

We are writing to express our deep concern over sanctions levied on Iran by the Administration that are causing shortages in medicine, particularly for pediatric cancer patients and those with other chronic, advanced, or rare diseases. The Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, targeted at crippling Iranian leadership with economic sanctions, is having collective and punitive effects on ordinary Iranian citizens.

While the Administration has stated that humanitarian supplies, like medicine, are exempt from sanctions, we are concerned by reports that indicate otherwise. Blanket U.S. sanctions conflict with humanitarian exemptions; the broad nature of these sanctions, particularly the designation of Iran’s Central Bank under terror authorities, undermines long-standing bipartisan support for ensuring humanitarian trade is not impacted by sanctions. Foreign banks and medical companies are deterred from doing business with Iran out of fear of being penalized or having secondary sanctions levied against them by the Department of Treasury. U.S. sanctions have led to medicine and medical equipment shortages and have put vital medication and treatment out of reach for Iranians.

In October 2018, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that these sanctions unilaterally re-imposed by the U.S., after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, were illegally impeding Iran’s access to medicine and medical devices, in direct violation of the Treaty of Amity of 1955. Regrettably, the Administration responded by rejecting the ruling, pulling the U.S. out of the Treaty, and continuing to tighten sanctions. These sanctions are clearly violating international law, and we must respect and act according to the ruling of the ICJ.

The strategy of economic warfare against Iran is causing undue suffering to the country’s most vulnerable communities. Those who are especially impacted include tens of thousands of patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, hemophilia, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, or cancers, such as Leukemia, which is the leading form of childhood cancer in Iran. Sanctions are having devastating ramifications for these patients; whose medications and treatment rely heavily on imports.

While Iran produces about 97% of its medicine domestically, it relies on imports from several countries for the remaining 3%. This 3% is crucial to Iran’s healthcare system, as it consists of vastly more costly, specialized drugs for cancers and rare diseases that are unavailable domestically. Sanctions also severely limit Iran’s ability to import raw materials that drugs for cancer treatment depend upon. Furthermore, hospitals are struggling to access medical equipment that is crucial to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, leading to interruptions in patient care, and ultimately, to a decrease in cancer survival rates. There have also been reports of burgeoning black-market drug activity that offers unreliable, low-quality, and potentially dangerous alternatives to desperate patients.

On October 25, 2019, the Department of Treasury announced a new “humanitarian mechanism” to allow medicine imports into Iran. However, this was coupled by the designation of Iran as a “primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA Patriot Act. This action renders the “humanitarian mechanism” insufficient, as it creates rigorous conditions for foreign bank participation with regard to humanitarian trade, requiring them to abide by “enhanced due diligence and provide to Treasury a substantial and unprecedented amount of information.” It is highly unlikely that banks will voluntarily subject themselves to the new conditions necessary to participate in humanitarian trade with Iran, which were previously exempted by general license. In fact, foreign banks have cautioned against designating Iran under Section 311, as it would impel them to stop processing humanitarian business altogether. The likely outcome of this “channel” is only to further limit Iranians from accessing crucial medical supplies. 

Considering this recent announcement, and of the concerns detailed above, we kindly request a response to the following questions regarding the sanctions policy and its implementation:

  1. Has the Treasury department developed and distributed clear guidance for businesses on the new humanitarian mechanism?
    1. If so, we request that such guidance be made public. If not, we urge you to develop and publish guidance promptly to address overcompliance on the part of companies who fear secondary sanctions. 
    2. What other resources are available at the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to assist both US and non-US banks and companies as well as NGOs and charity groups in navigating the sanctions compliance requirements?  
  2. What mechanisms are in place at the Treasury department to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the sanctions program and its impact on the import of humanitarian goods?
  3. What specific steps has the Treasury department, in coordination with the State Department, taken to consult with nongovernmental organizations, companies, and Iranian healthcare providers, to assess the impact of US sanctions on humanitarian needs?
  4. Since November 2018, how many special licenses has the OFAC issued for humanitarian transfers and for medicine and medical equipment to Iran? What is the average processing time for issuing such licenses?
  5. Since Nov. 2018, how many licenses has the OFAC issued for projects or activities designed to directly benefit the Iranian people? And what is the average processing time for issuing such license?  
  6. Which agencies were involved in the decision to designate the CBI and mandate new reporting requirements on humanitarian trade? Were concerns raised that these decisions would undermine long-standing humanitarian exemptions under Iran sanctions, and complicate the provision of food and medicine to the Iranian people?

We strongly urge the Administration to conduct a sweeping review of its sanctions campaign against Iran and identify and implement the necessary adjustments required to fulfill responsibilities under international law, as ordered by the ICJ’s October 2018 ruling, to protect the Iranian people’s right to health. While the efficacy of sanctions is questionable, we also urge the OFAC to expand the list of medical supplies that international suppliers are eligible to trade with Iran, especially for cancer and other chronic, advanced, or rare diseases. Considering the ongoing protests in Iran, and the Iranian government’s shutdown of internet services, we also see a clear need to expand General License D-1 so that the United States is not taking any actions that help the Iranian government block outside communications.

The Administration’s sanctions campaign is in direct contradiction with the stated overarching goal of supporting the human rights of the Iranian people and their aspirations for democracy and freedom. It should be made a priority to remedy the adverse consequences of these sanctions to ensure that Iranians have the basic human right of access to quality, affordable medicine.

Thank you for your attention and consideration of this matter.

 

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva  
Representative Ilhan Omar
Representative Barbara Lee

Memo: Iran Protests, Internet Blackout & Government Crackdown

The Iranian government abruptly announced last Thursday that the price of gasoline would be increased, triggering widespread protests from a population already under severe economic hardship due to governmental mismanagement and the impact of U.S. sanctions. Videos out of Iran show violent confrontations between security forces and protesters, with tear gas and riot police being deployed and, in some cases, live ammunition used.

According to BBC Persian, as of Sunday, at least 12 people have been killed, dozens injured, and roughly 1,000 arrested. At least one hundred banks and dozens of gas stations and stores have been damaged in the roughly 100 cities where protests have erupted. Access to the internet has also been severely limited by the Iranian government, severely hindering the ability of ordinary Iranians to connect with the outside world.

For Members of Congress, we encourage three actions. First, condemn the Iranian government’s ongoing stifling of the internet and brutal crackdown that is in contravention of the government’s international human rights obligations. Second, take action to ensure that sanctions do not inadvertently harm the Iranian people, including by pushing to broaden licensing for vital communication technology. Third, in solidarity with the Iranian people, push the Trump administration to end its discriminatory Muslim ban and ensure sanctions no longer inhibit humanitarian trade.

The following is an overview of the gas price hike, the ongoing protests, and the implications of U.S. policy for the protests:

Protests Most Far-Reaching Since Winter 2017/2018 Unrest

  • The wide scope of the protests are similar to the tumult that rocked large parts of Iran in late December 2017 and early January 2018.
  • Like those protests, these protests were also spurred by economic grievances and the slogans of many demonstrators have addressed broader political grievances and targeted the entire political system.
  • The protests have been marked by a high-degree of violence between security forces and protestors. In videos posted on social media, security forces can be seen firing live ammunition at protests, beating people with batons, firing tear gas, and damaging the vehicles of protesters.
  • The protests have also been marked by demonstrators blocking off roads and leaving their cars in traffic. Videos also show government buildings being attacked and set on fire–including offices of local Basij paramilitary forces and religious officials–as well as shops, banks, and other property.
  • Notably, when the price hike was first announced, social media channels affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards promoted people abandoning their cars in traffic, leading some to speculate hardline forces sought to trigger and use protests to weaken their moderate and reformist rivals.

 

U.S. Sanctions Are Helping Enable Internet Shutdown

  • Since Saturday, the Iranian government has mostly shut down internet access in the country. The shutdown is the country’s longest and most limiting to date.

  • Many Iranian Americans have now also lost their only means of communication with loved ones in Iran, whether through WhatsApp, Skype, or other similar services.

  • In recent years, U.S. sanctions have created a double layer of censorship on the Iranian people’s online activities by limiting their ability to use vital communication tools and outside-based cloud and web-hosting services.

  • Overcompliance with sanctions has led major tech companies to restrict their software and services to Iranians in recent years. This includes access to the Apple App Store, Coursera, edX, Github, Slack, and vitally, Amazon Web Service and Google Cloud.

  • As a result, ordinary Iranians have lost access to virtual private networks (VPNs) that enable them to circumvent government censorship and spying, forcing Iranians onto government infrastructure.

  • The consequences of this are now evident, with the Iranian government far more effectively able to shutter the access of ordinary Iranians to the internet.

  • At this critical juncture, Congress should push the Treasury Department to revise General License D-1, which exempts certain software and hardware vital for communication on the internet but hasn’t been updated in over five years.

  • A new rule should provide license authorization for U.S. and foreign persons to provide Iranians access to all technology and services necessary for Iranians to access virtual private networks, including cloud-based software.

 

 Government Shows No Signs of Rescinding Price Hike

  • President Rouhani’s announcement of the price hike was met with fierce backlash from his conservative rivals, reformist and hardline members of parliament, and senior clergy.

  • At least two members of parliament have resigned, including a prominent reformist MP representing Tehran.  Both reformist and conservative parliamentarians denounced the fact that they weren’t consulted on the price hike and hardline MPs have now introduced bills to impeach Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani.
     
  • Despite this, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has publicly defended the price hike and labeled protesters as “thugs” connected to outside powers.

  • While some hardline institutions and media are attempting to scapegoat the centrist Rouhani for the price hike, Khamenei’s support makes it unlikely that the price hike will be rescinded.

  • Khamenei also noted that the price hike decision wasn’t made by just the Rouhani administration, but by a high-level economic body comprised of the heads of the three branches of the Iranian government—which includes the hardliner-dominated judiciary.  

 

Price Hike Aimed at Reforming Costly Subsidy System

  • Iran’s far-reaching subsidies take up a large portion of the government’s annual budget and the country has among the cheapest gasoline rates in the world.

  • Attempts by various Iranian governments over the years to reform the subsidy system have been met with strong political backlash.

  • However, the gas subsidies have become increasingly unsustainable in the face of increasing domestic gas consumption, massive smuggling, and budget shortfalls due to U.S. sanctions.

  • According to Iranian officials, daily gasoline consumption in Iran is approaching 110 million liters, which is close to exceeding the amount of gasoline produced domestically.  While Iran is a major producer of unrefined oil, it struggles to domestically meet the demand for refined gasoline.

  • In announcing the gas price hike, Rouhani said the price would be set at two different rates and the revenue generated would be redistributed via cash transfer to 18 million poorer households. These deposits will be made monthly, with the first expected on November 22nd.

  • The more heavily subsidized rate is a 50 percent increase from the previous rate and holds for up to 60 liters of gasoline consumption a month. After that quota is surpassed, any additional gas purchases will cost three times more than the price of gas before the price hike.

Stop Trump from Sanctioning Humanitarian Trade to Iranians

 

NIAC Action signs on to letter urging Congress to keep key amendments to the NDAA

This week, NIAC Action signed a letter to congressional Democrats voicing our support for the Khanna-Gaetz amendment, as well as a host of other important initiatives, in the ongoing FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act negotiations. Signatories of the letter included the Truman Project for National Security, MoveOn, and Peace Action, as well as 40 other organizations.
With negotiations entering an important phase, it is imperative that the Khanna – Gaetz amendment, which would prevent President Trump from conducting an unauthorized war with Iran, remain in the final version of the NDAA. In a recent cabinet meeting, President Trump said that “we may need to get into wars. If Iran does something, they’ll be hit like they’ve never been before.” According to a survey of Iranian Americans, approximately 62% would oppose military strikes against Iran. War serves no one interests, which is why it NIAC Action has worked tirelessly with our coalition partners to meet with and support our allies in the House and Senate to ensure the bill remains strong.

October 24, 2019

We are a diverse group of organizations focused on strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, combating corruption, and promoting human rights, and together we represent millions of Americans. We write to urge you to stand up for democratic values in negotiations around the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and refuse to provide over $730 billion in unrestrained Pentagon spending unless there are significant constraints on this administration’s harmful policies.

Over the course of his administration, Donald Trump has been on the brink of war with Iran, continued U.S. complicity in supporting atrocities committed by the Saudi/Emirati-led coalition in Yemen, illegally raided Pentagon funds for his hateful border wall project that harms migrants and asylum-seekers, banned transgender service members from military service, developed new nuclear weapons while also broadening their potential uses in official U.S. policy, expanded use-of-force authorities – leading to a major increase in civilian casualties, and sought to lessen oversight of military-style firearms exports, among other abuses.

The House Democratic majority ensured that H.R. 2500 took a stand against those abuses. It includes smart, common-sense, and humane provisions on foreign policy and national security. For instance, H.R. 2500 guards against a Trump-led war of choice with Iran; ends U.S. weapons and security aid to the Saudi/Emirati-led coalition; bars any use of Pentagon dollars for a southern border “wall;” prevents discrimination against transgender service members; bars the deployment of the new low-yield nuclear weapon; repeals the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq; bans new detainees at GTMO; requires DOD to exhaustively report on civilian casualties; prevents the administration from relaxing oversight of assault weapons exports; and includes protections from toxic PFAS chemicals, which contaminate groundwater and drinking water around hundreds of military installations across the country.

Now is a key time for continued moral leadership. The pressure will certainly be great to capitulate to the Administration and its supporters, passing a NDAA stripped of all these meaningful reforms, protections, and constraints, but we will have your back if you stand strong. We urge you to oppose any negotiated bill that does not include a minimum of core progressive priorities that were included in H.R 2500. There is simply no reason to continue with business-as-usual with such a reckless, corrupt, and unlawful president. Any compromise on the NDAA must provide genuine checks on the president, or it is not worth passing into law.

Action Corps ·Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) ·Arms Control Association ·Avaaz · Beyond the Bomb · Campaign for America’s Future · Center for Biological Diversity · Center for International Policy · CODEPINK · Common Defense · Council for a Livable World · CREDO · Demand Progress · Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries · Foreign Policy for America · Franciscan Action Network ·Freedom Forward · Fuerza del Valle · Global Exchange · Hispanic Federation ·Humanitarian Border Solutions · La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) · Main Street Alliance · MoveOn · National Iranian American Council Action · NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice ·Newtown Action Alliance · Nuclear Age Peace Foundation · Nuclear Watch New Mexico · Open Society Policy Center · Our Revolution · Peace Action · Physicians for Social Responsibility · Public Citizen · RGV Equal Voice Network · Southern Border Communities Coalition · Students for Yemen · Survivors Empowered Action Fund · The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society · Truman Project for National Security · Union of Concerned Scientists · United for Peace and Justice · Win Without War · Women’s Action for New Directions

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

Memo: Congress Must Clarify No Authorization for Iran War, Urge Deescalation after Saudi Oil Attack

President Trump is once again hinting that he will go to war with Iran via Twitter, this time over attacks on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities for which the Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed credit. At this time, there is no clear smoking gun to implicate Iran despite the Trump administration’s strident condemnations.

For lawmakers, it is imperative to reinforce:

1)   Congress has not authorized war against Iran, nor has the United Nations. Any strikes on Iran without authorization would be illegal.

2)   There is no clear evidence implicating Iran – but even if there was, a Trump-led war on a nation nearly four times the size of Iraq would be a costly, generational mistake. Iran has signaled it will retaliate forcefully against any attacks on its territory.

3)   If it was the Houthis who initiated the attack, as they have claimed, it is yet another clear sign that the Yemen war needs to end. Not only is the war a disaster for Yemen, but it is achieving the opposite of its goals by eroding the security of Saudi Arabia.

4)   If Iran is implicated as the sponsor of the attack, it would be yet another sign that Trump’s maximum pressure approach is a catastrophic failure. Far from ease regional tensions and Iran’s military footprint, Trump’s approach is ensuring the reverse.

5)   Regardless of the sponsor, now is the time for de-escalation. The skeleton for a deal is on the table – the international community would ease economic pressure on Iran in exchange for Iranian restraint and further negotiations. 

We are at this crisis point because of the convergence of two self-inflicted disasters spurred by our impulsive President: the decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and impose “maximum pressure” sanctions; and the refusal to pull out of the war on Yemen and seriously press for Saudi Arabia to deescalate there.

At this juncture, Trump can choose diplomacy and peace or repeat the mistakes that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq with Iran. With the region at a boiling point, all lawmakers need to be strongly urging restraint and reinforcing that there is no authorization for war.

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.

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.”

NIAC Statement on Senate Vote on Udall-Kaine Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 28, 2019
CONTACT: Mana Mostatabi | 202.386.6325 x103 | mana@niacaction.org

WASHINGTON DC – Today, the Senate voted on a bipartisan amendment spearheaded by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) that would block President Donald Trump from using funds from the defense bill to launch a war with Iran without Congressional authorization. The amendment received 50 votes in favor to just 40 opposed, but fell short of the 60 vote threshold set by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposed the amendment. 

In response, NIAC Action Executive Director, Jamal Abdi, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the majority of the Senate that supported today’s amendment to shut down an unauthorized war with Iran. Senators Udall and Kaine deserve particular credit for forcing a vote and convincing a majority of the Senate to go on record against a march to war with Iran. 

“The depths to which McConnell and his allies like Tom Cotton went to oppose this amendment and vote against Congress’ own Constitutional power to declare war is deeply concerning. Voters did not elect Trump king so that he could send our troops into harm’s way whenever he felt like it. Yet, the vast majority of Republicans are either so cowed by Trump or eager for war that they decided to play defense for him. Critically, if not for Mitch McConnell, there could have been a straight up and down vote that inserted this amendment into the defense authorization bill ahead of the House. 

“It is a dereliction of duty for those Senators to have looked at the past several weeks and done nothing. Trump and his deputy Bolton have routinely threatened Iran, taken major provocative steps designed to trigger Iranian reprisals, and barely stepped back from the edge of starting a major war with Iran. 

“Every single Democrat who cast a vote supported the amendment, and four Republicans – Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Jerry Moran – made clear through their votes that President Trump does not have authorization for war against Iran. The Iranian-American community, our allies, and all pro-peace and diplomacy advocates should take heart that there is a strong, bipartisan group of lawmakers determined to block an unauthorized Trump war on Iran. Yet, far more is needed.

“Critically, by securing majority support, this has now built momentum for the House of Representatives to pass its own bipartisan Khanna-Gaetz amendment to restrict Trump’s ability to start a war with Iran when Congress returns from the July 4th recess and resumes consideration of its defense authorization bill.”