Now Comes Katrina

Impeachee Bill Clinton probably wishes he’d never met Monica. George Bush may rue the day he met Katrina.

Why? Because at a time when Louisiana and Mississippi National Guardsmen were desperately needed in their home states to do the job they were trained to do – to mitigate the consequences of an unprecedented natural disaster – thousands of them were halfway around the world, unlawfully sent there to fight – and perhaps die – in President Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq.

By law, the constitutional powers of the president to “introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities” are limited, and can only be exercised “pursuant to; (a) a declaration of war, (b) specific statutory authorization, or (c) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

By law, until the president or Congress declares a National Emergency, the president has no authority over National Guard units or the guardsmen, themselves.

Governors do, but not the president.

When Bush went to Congress in September 2002, he sought “specific statutory authorization” to invade Iraq. He based his case on a just completed highly-classified National Intelligence Estimate, which supposedly contained “slam-dunk” evidence that Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio weapons programs, with the intention of supplying them to Islamic terrorists for use against us.

A thoroughly alarmed Congress quickly enacted the “Congressional Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.”

However, the authority given by Congress was conditional.

Before resorting to force, Bush was required to satisfy Congress that “reliance on peaceful means alone will not adequately protect the national security of the United States.”

By March, as a result of months of totally intrusive inspections by UN inspectors, it was obvious even to Congresspersons that Saddam Hussein had no reconstructed nuke or chem-bio weapons programs and that Iraq did not pose an immediate threat to us or to anyone else.

Hence, the condition Congress had placed on its "specific statutory authorization" had not been met!

Nevertheless, on March 19, 2003, President Bush sent his “determination” to Congress that Iraq did pose “a continuing threat to the national security of the United States” by “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations.”

But, even though Congress didn’t withdraw the "specific authorization" it had given Bush to invade Iraq, Congress didn’t declare war, nor did Congress or the president declare a "National Emergency."

Hence, Bush had no authority to use National Guard units or the Guardsmen themselves in the invasion and subsequent occupation.

Now, on Sept. 14, 2001, President Bush had issued a “Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks” on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and “the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.”

And on the same day, citing that declaration, Bush issued an executive order “Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty.”

That executive order – citing that declaration – is what Bush has since misused to send more than 210,000 of our 330,000 National Guardsmen to "counter" in Iraq an "immediate threat of further attacks on the United States" by Iraq that doesn’t exist and never did.

More than half our soldiers on the ground in Iraq, today, are reportedly National Guardsmen or Reservists. Thousands of Louisiana and Mississippi Guardsmen are in Iraq, now. Virtually all Louisiana Guardsmen are reported to have served at least one tour of duty in Iraq. Guardsmen’s mobilizations resulting from Bush’s "War on Terror" executive order of four years ago have averaged 460 days.

Now you know why Bush continued to insist for so long – despite all evidence to the contrary – that Saddam Hussein had reconstructed his nuke and chem-bio weapons programs and did intend to give them to terrorists. That’s the rationale Bush used to justify his war of aggression against Iraq.

Now you know why Bush continues to insist – despite all evidence to the contrary – that we’re fighting terrorists in Iraq so we won’t have to fight them here at home. That’s the rationale Bush used to justify his sending National Guardsmen to fight and die in Iraq.

But the polls were already showing that most Americans recognized that the rationales for invading Iraq more than two years ago, and for having so many National Guardsmen over there now, were at best wrong, and perhaps bald-faced lies.

Now comes Katrina.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.