Kyl-Lieberman and HR 1400
There's a great deal of ceremonious blather. Also, much of the most offensive parts of it were gutted (for instance, an earlier version included explicit support for use of US military instruments). But I want to focus in on two snippets from it. First:
the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the IRGC on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the Inteational Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under EO 13224
This gives the Cheney Administration a place to hang their hat should they decide to attack Iran.
Seond, I wanted to compare the last line of this legislation to the Lieberman Amendment that was passed 97-0 recently. I could not find the amended Amendment (some changes were agreed to in colloquy), so here is the unamended version.
Included in the amended version of the Lieberman Amendment was that:
[that nothing in this measure] shall be construed to authorise or otherwise speak to the use of armed forces against Iran
On the other hand, the last line of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was:
the Department of the Treasury should act with all possibly expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under UNSC Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on Dec. 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.
Combined with the first snipper, the failure to include the disclaimer I think gives the Cheney Administration a very strong claim that Congress could have stated this was not an authorization, but chose not to do so.
If there were any general wondering if they might have Constitutional grounds to disobey an order to attack Iran, I think the Senate has just taken that option away from them.
I also want to point something out. Nowhere in the text of the bill do they mention Iran's nuclear program. I've pointed out before that there seems to have been something of a rhetorical shift with respect to Iran; and this amendment shows it in blazing lights. They've laid down the WMD as a dark whisper. But since it's not front and center, it will never get properly debunked, and it won't bite them as much when Tehran's program isn't really as advertised. I'm impressed in a perverse way.
The vote was 73-22. Two Republican Senators, including the Ranking Member (and former chair) of the Foreign Relations committee, voted against it.
At the same time, the House passed HR 1400 , "The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act", by an overwhelming 397-16 margin (h/t selise ). Even my hometown Congressman Capuano, who is normally very good on all things Iran, voted for it. And HR 1400 is very squarely about the Iranian nuclear program.
I am waiting for a call back from my Congressmans' office to see if there's any subtlety I should know about here. The bill basically calls for sanctions on Iran and those who do business in Iran, on account of the nuclear program. Two snippets on a somewhat lighter note:
United States concerns regarding Iran are strictly the result of actions of the Government of Iran
I think this is particularly interesting in light of Pat Buchanon's (yes, that Pat Buchanon!) words recently on Hardball (h/t Glenn Greenwald ):
BUCHANAN: Chris, to your point, he said two things. The Western nations invented chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The Americans used them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and they were used on our people in the war against Iraq, where you all supported Iraq against Iran. Now, all those are statements of fact, and they‘re very, very persuasive in the Arab and Islamic world in making his case.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, gentlemen, about human nature. It seems to me that the whole third world case against the first world is that we have humiliated that part of the world, manipulated their governments, used the CIA to put people like the Shah -- by the way, the Shah's not from royal blood or anything. They just created that throne for him. The CIA put him in there against the democratically elected prime minister. We have exploited that country for its cheap oil. We've taken advantage of that country. And now we say we want justice.
Is there not an Iranian case against the United States and the West, Mr. Weprin, or do you say they're dead wrong, the country's just wrong and we‘re right?
[. . . ]
BUCHANAN: Look, there's an Iranian case against the West and an American case against Iran. That's why we ought to sit down and put it all on both sides of the table. And I think we do have things where we disagree profoundly, but we have issues on which we agree. We both -- neither of us wants the Taliban back. Neither of us wants the Sunni Ba'athist dictatorship back. Neither of us wants an all-out war. Those are common interests.
And this from the legislation is very lovely:
the American people have feelings of friendship for the Iranian people, regret that developments of recent decades have created impediments to that friendship, and hold the Iranian people, their culture, and their ancient and rich history in the highest esteem.
I am quite sure that Soviet legislation routinely attached such riders; if I get energetic I will see if I can go back and see if I can find some examples.
So there you have it. The Senate "finds" that Iran is attacking our boys. The House "finds" Iran has a threatening nuclear program. Lieberman wasn't freelancing; this is careful and coordinated. The advertising campaign has launched.
I called my Senator's office and asked what we needed to be doing out here in the provinces to keep this movie from ending the same way as the last one. The staffer said to call Senators and Reps. As if I didn't last time around...