As we noted yesterday, the administration is determined to strike a longterm security agreement with Iraq while avoiding the Constitutional requirement that the Senate ratify treaties.
To avoid that outcome, the administration has said that any agreement with Iraq will contain no security guarantee -- just an agreement that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq. Voila! no treaty.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) isn't convinced. And during a hearing Tuesday before a House foreign affairs subcommittee, he grilled the State Department's Iraq coordinator about the deal.
But in a State Department official's written reply to Ackerman's questions (which you can see here), the administration showed that it has another trick up its sleeve.
Congress doesn't have to approve any agreement with Iraq, the official writes, because it already has... sorta. That came in the form of the 2002 Iraq war authorization, which authorized force to neutralize the "continuing threat posed by Iraq." Apparently in the administration view, that was also a blanket authorization for the ensuing occupation of Iraq.
Ackerman, speaking yesterday, wasn't convinced: "I don't think anybody argues today that Saddam Hussein is a threat," he said. "Is it the government of Iraq that's a threat?"
But if he doesn't buy that, then there's also Congress' post-9/11 authorization, the official writes, which "authorized the President to use all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organizations, or persons involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States." Because the president has said that the invasion was consistent with that authorization, it apparently is. Or at least by their way of seeing things.
Still skeptical? Oh! But there's more. "In addition, Congress has repeatedly provided funding for the Iraq war, both in regular appropriations cycles and in supplemental appropriations." Little did they know that with their annual appropriations, they were tacitly approving a longterm deal.
Evidently, the adminstration is convinced that if they continue to throw enough stuff at the wall, something will stick.
For some reason, Dems in Congress remain unconvinced. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) even told the Post that the letter "creates the basis for a constitutional confrontation."