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[casi] "...the President. Call him, write Him, e-mail him." - Byrd



Senator Robert Byrd
October 10, 2002

Senate Remarks:  A Preordained Course of Action on Iraq

The Moving Finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

So said the Persian poet Omar Khayyam in the 11th century.  So say I today.
The Senate has made clear its intent on the Iraq resolution.  The outcome is
certain; the ending has been scripted.  The Senate will vote, and the Iraq
resolution will pass.

I continue to believe that the Senate, in following this preordained course
of action, will be doing a grave disservice to this nation and to the
Constitution on which it was founded. In the newly published  National
Security Strategy of the United States  the document in which the President
outlines the unprecedented policy of pre-emptive deterrence which the Iraq
resolution will implement  he asserts that the Constitution has served us
well, as though it were some dusty relic of the past that needs to be
eulogized before it is retired.  He is wrong.  The Constitution is no more
dated in the principles it established than is the Bible. The Constitution
continues to serve us well, if only we will take the time to heed it.

I am deeply disappointed that the Senate is not heeding the imperatives of
the Constitution and is instead poised to hand off to the President the
exclusive power of Congress to determine matters of war and peace.

I do not, in my heart of hearts, believe that this is what the American
people expect of the Senate.  I have heard from tens of thousands of
Americans  people from all across this country of ours  who have urged me
to keep up the fight.  I am only one Senator from a small state, yet in the
past week I have received nearly 20,000 telephone calls and nearly 50,000
e-mails supporting my position.

I want all of those people across America who took the time to contact me to
know how their words have heartened me and sustained me in my efforts to
turn the tide of opinion in the Senate. They are my heroes, and I will never
forget the remarkable courage and patriotism that reverberated in the fervor
of their messages.

As the apostle Paul said, "I  have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith." There are Americans all across this country
who have joined in spirit with me and a small band of like-minded Senators
in fighting the good fight. We could stay here on the floor and continue to
fight, and it is certainly a fight worth the effort.  But there is also a
point at which it becomes time to accept reality and to regroup.  It is
clear that we have lost the battle in the Senate, but we have not yet lost
the war.

The next front is the White House, and I urge all those people who are
following this debate, and who have encouraged me in my efforts, to turn
their attention to the President. Call him, write him, e-mail him.  Urge him
to heed the Constitution and not short-circuit it by exercising the broad
grant of authority that the Iraq resolution provides.

The President has said on many occasions that he has not yet made up his
mind to go to war.  When he does make up his mind  if he does  then he
should come back to Congress and seek formal authorization. Let him use this
Iraq resolution as leverage with the United Nations, if that is what he
wants it for, but when it comes time for the United States to undertake
military action, let him come back to the Congress for authorization.

I continue to have faith in our system of government.  I continue to have
faith in the basic values that shaped this nation.  Those values do not
include striking first against other nations.  Those values do not include
using our position as the strongest and most formidable nation in the world
to bully and intimidate other nations. Those values do not include putting
other nations on an enemies list so that we can justify pre-emptive military
action.

Were I not to believe in the inherent ability of the Constitution to
withstand the folly of such actions as the Senate is about to take, I would
not stop fighting.  I would fight with every fiber of my body, every ounce
of my energy, with every parliamentary tool at my disposal.  But I do
believe that the Constitution will weather this storm. The Senate will
weather the storm as well, but I only hope that when this tempest passes,
Senators will reflect on the ramifications of what they have done and
understand the damage  that has been inflicted on the Constitution.

In this debate, the American people seem to have a better understanding of
the Constitution than those who are elected to represent them.  Perhaps it
is that their understanding of the Constitution is not filtered through the
prism of election year politics.  For whatever reason, I believe that the
American people have a better understanding of what the Senate is about to
do, a greater respect for the inherent powers of the Constitution, and a
greater comprehension of the far-reaching consequences of this resolution
than do most of their leaders.

I thank my colleagues who have allowed me to express at length my reasons
for opposing this resolution.  I thank those Senators who have stood with
me, supported me, and encouraged me.  I thank those Senators who have
engaged in thoughtful debate with me.  I do not believe that the Senate has
given enough time or enough consideration to the question of handing the
President unchecked authority  to usurp the Constitution and declare war on
Iraq.  But I accept the futility of continuing to fight on this front.

I say to the people of America, to those who have encouraged me and others
to uphold the principles of the Constitution, keep up the fight.  Keep
fighting for what is right.  Let your voices be heard.  I will always listen
to you, and I hope that the President will begin to listen to you.  May God
bless you in your endeavors.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.





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