Continuing Ed

Sunday, June 04, 2006
The Iraq Liberation Act

October 31, 1998

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 31, 1998

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council's efforts to keep the current regime's behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

On October 21, 1998, I signed into law the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, which made $8 million available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic, participa--tory political system that will include all of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious groups. As required by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY 1998 (Public Law 105-174), the Department of State submitted a report to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic opposition. My Administration, as required by that statute, has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq's current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well. Similarly, U.S. support must be attuned to what the opposition can effectively make use of as it develops over time. With those observations, I sign H.R. 4655 into law.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

THE WHITE HOUSE,

October 31, 1998.

8 comments:

vnjagvet said...

For foreign policy students primarily and anyone else who can enlighten us:

What part of the strategy implied by this statement has not been implemented since 2002?

What part of the policy here should have become inoperative after September 11?

terrye said...

vnjagvet:

And why didn't anyone call him Heil Clinton or whatever?

I was thinking that I might also post the joint resolution to send troops. Just as a refresher.

vnjagvet said...

I think that would be a valuable public service.

You might also post the identities of those voting for and against.

It is interesting how the rather efficient (in history's perspective, that is) execution of a policy that was overwhelmingly adopted by the legislative and executive branches of government, and the persistent pursuit of those policies while keeping the economy growing has drawn such enmity from the "elite" intellectual classes and their mouthpieces.

loner said...

vnjagvet—

None of it should have become inoperative (it was a fairly toothless piece of political oneupsmanship to begin with) and preemption is not implied, mush less advocated, in either the act or the statement.

I'm not going to go into this again as I support the course we're pursuing even though I came to regard the decision to depose Hussein by preemptive force, which I supported at the time, to have been a mistake before the close of 2003 and it is that decision which separates the President from previous policy. Congress, staunch guardian of its powers and privileges when nothing of note is at stake, gave the President, who probably would have claimed the power as his regardless, the power to make such a decision and he made it.

Best.

Rick Ballard said...

Here is the House rollcall. It was whooped through the Senate by unaminous consent.

Ya gotta love the greatest deliberative body on earth - they can duck and weave with the finest the world has seen. Loner is absolutely correct about the toothlessness, it was sheer feel good legislation.

The October 2002 legislation had some teeth but Congress could have done a much better job. 'Cept for the election of course.

vnjagvet said...

Loner:

Lawyers sometimes stretch words and phrases creatively to get to where their clients want to go.

What is interesting to me is that Clinton (a lawyer) has often exhibited the lawyer's ability to do just that (albeit mostly in his own defense).

I submit to you that Bush (not a lawyer) took this statement and the act and interpreted it in light of the facts presented to him in 2003 in a perfectly acceptable tradition of lawyerly interpretation.

Consider these phrases:

"My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership."

and

"My Administration, as required by that statute, has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq's current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security."

Considering the September 11 experience, the belligerence of the Hussein regime and its flouting of the additional UN Security Council Resolutions through 2003, it seems to me that Congress's actions of 2002, and the Bush administration's actions thereafter were perfectly consistent with and, indeed, in furtherance of these 1998 activities of Congress and the Clinton Administration.

loner said...

vnjagvet—

In furtherance.

I'm not a lawyer either.

Best.

terrye said...

I think the thing that annoys me is the sheer gaul that somehow or other Bush [or whoever would have followed Clinton for that matter], was supposed to simply disregard this Act. Disregard the CIA findings of two terms. Disregard the UN. Disregard the attempted assasination of a president. Disregarded the bombing of Baghdad ordered by Clinton in 1998. etc.

I remember Clinton saying that if Saddam stayed in power he would use those weapons again. No if ands or buts about it.

I remember Clinton saying it would only take a few weeks to subdue Iraq.

But no one accuses him of the kinds of things they accuse Bush of. It is as if the years of 1992 to 2000 just vanished down the rabbit hole.