Wednesday, February 11, 2009

States Push to Take Back National Guard

Wednesday 11 February 2009
by: Maya Schenwar, truthout/Report

Going on its seventh year, the Iraq war has taken its toll on not only the US military, but also on the state's National Guard units, which were called up when Congress passed the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq.  Now a growing state-level movement is working to keep the Guard at home.

Its logic: The AUMF's goals have been fulfilled.  The authorization's explicit purposes were to defend the US against the "threat posed by Iraq" and to enforce UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq's alleged ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.  Saddam Hussein - along with his supposed threat - is gone, and the UN resolutions are no longer relevant, so there's no longer a mandate to keep troops in Iraq.

The president can call up the state's Guard units in a time of war.  But when the mandate for war becomes obsolete, say members of the Bring the Guard Home: It's the Law (BTGH) campaign, sending those troops overseas is ilegal.  BTGH members and their allies are now sponsoring a chain of bills and resolutions in states across the country, demanding an investigation into the legality of deploying the Guard to Iraq, and a refusal to comply with any illegal federal orders.

"There is not Congressional authorization for the use of the Guard today," Vermont State Rep. Mike Fisher told Truthout.  "One Guard member improperly called into federal service to fight a war - that's a real problem.  Choosing to go to war is one of the most serious decisions that we make.  The very least we can do is follow the Constitution.".

The state legislators involved in the campaign argue that it is their duty, along with the governor's, to ensure Guard members' welfare.  Although a governor can't order the Guard's return, he or she does have the right to challenge federalization orders (mandates to call up the Guard) in the first place.  Every month, another set of call-ups sends more Guard members overseas.  Should a state decide to refuse a federalization order, the case would likely be brought to the courts. Read more