Monday, October 27, 2014

Syrian Rebels, the AUMF and SA's House Delegation

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 6:38 PM

click image The House of Representatives during the 2012 State of the Union address. - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  • House of Representatives
  • The House of Representatives during the 2012 State of the Union address.

With Election Day right around the corner, we thought it would be insightful to see how the San Antonio House of Representatives delegation voted in 2014 on war-centric legislation. 

San Antonio is represented by four Democrats and one Republican in the House of Representatives.

Lamar Smith, the sole Republican, represents District 21; Joaquin Castro represents District 20, Lloyd Doggett represents District 35, Pete Gallego represents District 23 and Henry Cuellar represents District 28.

We took a look at five amendments about the civil war in Syria and legislation that allows the United States to attack just about anyone, anywhere, that it suspects of plotting terrorist acts against the States.

Let's start with what could have been a huge change in American geo-political policy that dates back to the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. In response to the attack, President George W. Bush signed the Authorization for use of Military Force (AUMF), which gave Bush the authority to use all necessary measures to track down anyone who planned or committed the attack.

And since then, the AUMF has been used to justify military action against Al Qaeda, or affiliated forces, in many countries across the world. 

And in June of this year, the House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have "sunset" the AUMF. That vote was rejected and the broad powers granted to the president under the AUMF are in full effect and continue to facilitate war in regions throughout the world as the U.S. fights its War on Terrorism.

Smith, Cuellar and Gallego all voted against repealing the AUMF while Castro and Doggett voted to repeal it.

With most conversations involving U.S. operations that target terrorists around the world, the AUMF is involved. Another amendment that made it to the House floor this year was an attempt to repeal the government's ability to indefinitely detain anyone suspected of terrorist activities under the power of the AUMF. This amendment was also rejected.

Smith and Cuellar voted against repealing indefinite detentions under AUMF while Castro, Doggett and Gallego voted to repeal indefinite detentions.

Another anti-war amendment, which aimed to amend the Department of Defense Appropriations Act to prohibit combat operations in Iraq was also rejected. The DOD Appropriations Act doesn't specifically mention funding for war operations in Iraq. That piece of legislation even bars DOD money from being used to build new bases or exercise control over Iraqi oil facilities. But because of the AUMF, and the fact that radicals with the Islamic State—formerly called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant—took over part of Iraq, Americans wondered whether the U.S. military would head back to the desert after a decade-long war.

They haven't yet, outside of a training capacity. But regardless, the amendment would have specifically barred combat operations in Iraq (think U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State within Iraq).

Smith, Cuellar and Gallego voted against the measure, while Castro and Doggett voted for the prohibition.

Lastly, the Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution 2002 was also targeted. This is the same as the AUMF, but specific to Iraq and was the justification for invading the country. This amendment also targeted the DOD Appropriations Act and was also rejected.

Smith, Cuellar and Gallego voted against prohibiting funds from being used pursuant to the AUMF. Doggett and Castro voted for the amendment.

And this failed amendment turns us toward a couple House initiatives aimed at arming Syrian rebels.

In June, Smith, Castro, Doggett, Cuellar and Gallego all voted against an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. from using DOD Appropriations Act funds from being used to arm Syrian rebels. This amendment was rejected.

In September, Smith, Castro, Cuellar and Gallego all voted to train and equip "vetted" Syrian rebels. Doggett voted against the measure.

While Cuellar, Smith and Gallego voted for warmongering most frequently, Castro was the wildcard and Doggett most consistently voted against measures that result in violence and bloodshed.

So that's is how San Antonio's members in the House of Representatives voted when it comes to arming rebels in foreign countries or preserving the AUMF, the United States' supreme policy of ongoing, seemingly never ending war in the 21st century.

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