President Bush is claiming that Iran is supplying weapons being used to kill US troops in Iraq, in order to prepare for a military strike against Iran, Rep. Dennis Kucinich writes in The Nation. This justification - an attack on U.S. troops - is the one that the President can use to bypass Congress and begin a military conflict.
Section 2(c) of the 1973 War Powers Resolution states that the President can introduce armed forces into a conflict created by an attack upon the armed forces.
As Kucinich notes, the Administration has been playing a step forward, step back game with allegations that the Iranian government is behind attacks on U.S. troops.
One day, it announces with great fanfare that it has incontrovertible proof that the top levels of the Iranian government are behind attacks on U.S. troops. The next day, it quietly concedes that it has no such proof and doesn't know for sure. The first day is covered prominently on the TV networks watched by the multitudes, with special graphics and breathless commentary. The next day is carefully dissected in measured prose in the back pages of print media read by a minority of the population.
The predictable result: what the Joe Lieberman Senate campaign approvingly referred to as "low information voters" become convinced that the Administration has the evidence it has claimed, even though this evidence has failed to withstand scrutiny.
Consider this poll data reported yesterday by the Washington Post:
the poll found that a majority of Americans now distrust the Bush administration on its handling of intelligence. Thirty-five percent said they can trust the administration to report potential threats from other countries honestly and accurately, and 63 percent said they cannot.
Good news. The public is skeptical.
The administration has been challenged on the quality of the intelligence underpinning its assertions that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said they believed that the administration has solid evidence to support those claims, and 44 percent disagreed.
Bad news. The public has been tricked.
Here's good news again: Secretary of State Rice has just announced that the Bush Administration will follow a key recommendation of the Iraq Study Group and support talks with Iran and Syria about Iraq.
Bad news: the pressure the Bush Administration is feeling from Congress right now is atypical. Top Administration officials are on the Hill defending the Administration's request for so-called "emergency" war funds, and getting pointed questions from Members of Congress (like Senator Byrd) about press reports of U.S. plans to attack Iran. Rep. Murtha has pledged to include language in the supplemental barring an attack on Iran. The Administration wants the discussion about Iran to go away so Congress can approve the money without Murtha's promised language. If the supplemental is passed, particularly if it is passed without Murtha's promised language, Congress' leverage will be dramatically decreased. That's why - from the point of view of the Administration, but not its critics - passage of the supplemental constitutes an "emergency."
Good news: The overwhelming majority of Americans do not want the U.S to attack Iran. They want the U.S. to negotiate with Iran.
Bad news: the overwhelming majority of Members of Congress have not clearly spoken out, even in defense of their own Constitutional power to decide when the United States will go to war. Only 67 Members of the House and 2 Senators have co-sponsored resolutions against attacking Iran without Congressional authorization.
Good news: you can do something about it.