Gov Richardson Calls on Congress to De-Authorize the Iraq War

SANTE FE, NM -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today issued the following statement urging Congress to take new action to force President Bush to end the war and bring all our troops home by the end of the year.

"We must stop this war and Congress has the power to do it," stated Governor Bill Richardson. "I commend Congress's efforts so far, but there is more that they can do. The Congress needs to stand up to the President and say that any legislation that allows our troops to stay in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time is unacceptable. We must fund our troops so long as they are in harm's way, but Congress also must establish a clear withdrawal timeline and force the President to respect it. Congress should use its authority under the War Powers Act and Article One of the United States Constitution to end this war and end it now.

"The original Iraq War resolution of 2002 did not authorize the war we are now fighting, but rather a war to remove WMD. That war ended when the President declared "Mission Accomplished." This current war is a violation of the War Powers Act, because it has not been authorized by Congress. President Bush has abused the 2002 war authorization by turning a war to remove WMD into an open-ended occupation. Congress should pass a resolution that explicitly de-authorizes the war in which we are now engaged, establishes a six-month deadline for the removal of ALL our troops, and instructs the President to remove them.

"Congress also should pass legislation that authorizes funds for the demobilization of our troops in Iraq. If President Bush fails to sign the legislation, or if he refuses to remove the troops by the deadline, he would be in contempt of Congress and we should take him to the Supreme Court.

"The multiple measures that Congress has proposed in the past few months are each steps in the right direction, but none go far enough. The war spending bill Bush recently vetoed did set a withdrawal date, but allowed the President to leave residual troops in Iraq for as long as he wants.

"Reid-Feingold is another step in the right direction, but it still leaves too many troops in Iraq.

"The most recent House funding bill finances the war through August 1st. This extends the war longer than it should --we can and should de-authorize this war today, and start bringing our troops home tomorrow.

"Recently, Senators Byrd and Clinton proposed a bill that would require de-authorization. I'm pleased to have their support for this plan, but their bill doesn't begin to end this war until October. Additionally, it includes no timetables for withdrawal.

"Iraq is in a state of civil war, and only the Iraqis can stop it. President Bush's policies have brought us to the point where we now have to choose between bad options and worse ones. We need to choose the path that will do the least damage to American national security--not the one that does the least damage to the President who created this catastrophe."

Governor Richardson has proposed seven steps for removing U.S. troops and ending the Iraq war:

  1. De-Authorize the Iraq War: President Bush has demonstrated neither competence, honesty, nor a sense of reality in his conduct of this war. Congress should assert its constitutional authority and pass a resolution de-authorizing the war under the War Powers Act and Article One of the United States Constitution.

  2. Remove Our Troops in 2007: Congress should set a military withdrawal date by the end of 2007 and appropriate funds accordingly for the re-deployment of troops.

  3. No Residual Forces Left Behind: We must remove ALL of our troops. There should be no residual U.S. forces left in Iraq. Most Iraqis, and most others in the region, believe that we are there for the Iraqi's oil. This perception is exploited by Al Qaeda, other insurgents, and anti-American Shia groups. By announcing that we intend to remove ALL troops, we would deprive our enemies of this propaganda tool.

  4. Promote Iraqi Reconciliation: We should promote an Iraqi Reconciliation Conference to bring the factions together to seek compromises and to begin confidence-building measures, including the end of militia violence. Our redeployment will give us more leverage than we have now, caught in the crossfire, to get the Iraqis to reconcile.

  5. Work With All Neighbors and Allies: We should convene a regional conference to secure the cooperation of all of Iraq's neighbors -- including Syria and Iran -- in promoting peace and stability. Among the key objectives of such a conference should be guarantees of non-interference, as well as the creation of a multilateral force of UN peacekeepers, should the Iraqis request one. The US should support such a force, but it should be composed of non-US, primarily Muslim troops.

  6. Global Cooperation in Reconstruction: We should convene a donor conference to fund Iraq's reconstruction. The United States needs to show the world that we intend to return to our tradition of being a trusted leader, not a unilateralist loner. The process of disengagement is an opportunity for us to show that we have turned the corner, and that we intend to rebuild our alliances, respect international law, and work with the international community.

  7. Redeploy to Address Real Threats: We must redeploy some of our troops to Afghanistan to stop the resurgence of the Taliban and to fight the real terrorists who attacked this country on 9-11. While all American troops in Iraq must be removed, we need to maintain a military presence in the region, including in Kuwait and in the Persian Gulf. We must have the regional capacity to use air power, special forces and other means to strike Al Queda anywhere. We do not need American troops in Iraq to perform this essential task.

    We also must bring our National Guard home where they are needed for homeland security, and we must focus our energy and resources on real threats, such as nuclear proliferation, Al Qaeda, public health, and global warming.