Rep. Barbara Lee's
the Post 9-11 Use of Force Act
September 14, 2001
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart, one
that is filled with sorrow for the families and loved ones who
were killed and injured in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Only the most foolish or the most callous would not understand
the grief that has gripped the American people and millions around
This unspeakable attack on the United States has
forced me to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God
September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears
now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not
prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United
I know that this use-of -force resolution will
pass although we all know that the President can wage war even
without this resolution. However difficult this vote may be, some
of us must urge the use of restraint. There must be some of us
who say, let's step back for a moment and think through the implications
of our actions today-let us more fully understand their consequences.
We are not dealing with a conventional war. We
cannot respond in a conventional manner. I do not want to see
this spiral out of control. This crisis involves issues of national
security, foreign policy, public safety, intelligence gathering,
economics, and murder. Our response must be equally multifaceted.
We must not rush to judgment. For too many innocent
people have already died. Our country is in mourning. If we rush
to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that woman,
children, and other non-combatants will be caught in the crossfire.
Nor can we let our justified anger over these outrageous
acts by vicious murderers inflame prejudice against all Arab Americans,
Muslim, Southeast Asians, and any other people because of their
race, religion, or ethnicity.
Finally, we must be careful not to embark on an
open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.
We cannot repeat past mistakes.
In 1964, Congress gave President Lyndon Johnson
the power to "take all necessary measures" to repel
attacks and prevent further aggression. In so doing, this House
abandoned its own constitutional responsibilities and launched
our country into years of undeclared war in Vietnam.
At this time, Senator Wayne Morse, on e of the
two lonely votes against the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, declared,
"I believe that history will record that we have made a grave
mistake in subverting and circumventing the Constitution of the
United StatesŠI believe that with the next century, future
generations will look with dismay and great disappointment upon
a Congress which is now about to make such a historic mistake."
Senator Morse was correct, and I fear we make the
same mistake today. And I fear the consequences. I have agonized
over this vote. But I came to grips with it in the very painful
yet beautiful memorial service today at the National Cathedral.
As a member of the clergy so eloquently said, " As we act,
let us not become the evil that we deplore."