As Jeremy Scahill painstakingly details in his book Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield, prior to September 11th, the Bush administration was headed in a similar direction as the Clinton administration with regard to covert assassinations. The CIA’s head at the time, George Tenet, had qualms about using drones for assassinations; who would pull the trigger? Were Americans even comfortable with such a program?
Even though Vice President Cheney and other neocons, like Paul Wolfowitz, were working behind the scenes, as they had been for years, to rid the executive agency from having to report to any agency or branch of government, the opportunity to enact sweeping changes didn’t come until after the September 11th attack.
Only days after the terrorist attack, the Bush administration proposed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AMF), giving Bush sweeping authority to go after those who’d been behind the terrorist attacks.
Over the decade preceding the terrorist attack, a strict process had been put in place to oversee covert operations, and the Constitution gave power to declare war to the Congress. But the AMF changed all that, giving Bush the “latitude to wage a global war.”
As is common for American politicians, most of them tucked their tails when faced with the shredding of the Constitution and sang “God Bless America” outside of the U.S. Capitol. Only Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) stood against this radical overreach of the executive branch.
While her other CBC members looked on in knee buckling fear, Lee stood alone against the Bush administration and every other member of Congress. On this Memorial Day, she should be remembered for the courage she showed at that moment.
Watch the speech where Lee, on the House floor, explained her opposition to the bill: