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Greenwald writes: "For her lone stance, Barbara Lee was deluged with rancid insults and death threats to the point where she needed around-the-clock bodyguards. But beyond the obvious bravery needed to take the stand she took, she has been completely vindicated on the merits."

From left, Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walk out after their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 21, 2010. (photo: Alex Brandon/AP)
From left, Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walk out after their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 21, 2010. (photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Barbara Lee's Lone Vote on September 14, 2001, Was as Prescient as It Was Brave and Heroic

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

12 September 16


lmost immediately after the 9/11 attack, while bodies were still buried in the rubble, George W. Bush demanded from Congress the legal authorization to use military force against those responsible for the attack, which everyone understood would start with an invasion of Afghanistan. The resulting resolution that was immediately cooked up was both vague and broad, providing that “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

Despite this broadness, or because of it, the House of Representatives on September 14 approved the resolution by a vote of 420-1. The Senate approved it the same day by a vote of 98-0. The lone dissenting vote was Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who — three days after the 9/11 attack, in a climate of virtually full-scale homogeneity — not only voted “no” but stood up on the House floor to deliver this eloquent, unflinching and, as it turns out, extremely prescient explanation for her opposition:

In an op-ed she published in the San Francisco Chronicle nine days later, she explained her vote by pointing out that the resolution “was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events — anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.” She added: “A rush to launch precipitous military counterattacks runs too great a risk that more innocent men, women, children will be killed.”

For her lone stance, Lee was deluged with rancid insults and death threats to the point where she needed around-the-clock bodyguards. She was vilified as “anti-American” by numerous outlets including the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Times editorialized on September 18 that “Ms. Lee is a long-practicing supporter of America’s enemies — from Fidel Castro on down” and that “while most of the left-wing Democrats spent the week praising President Bush and trying to sound as moderate as possible, Barbara Lee continued to sail under her true colors.” Since then, she has been repeatedly rejected in her bids to join the House Democratic leadership, typically losing to candidates close to Wall Street and in support of militarism. I documented numerous other ugly attacks when I wrote about her for The Guardian in 2013.

But beyond the obvious bravery needed to take the stand she took, she has been completely vindicated on the merits. Close to a majority of Americans now believes that the first war the AUMF was invoked to launch — the one in Afghanistan — was a mistake. Fifteen years later, the very same AUMF continues to be used by the Obama administration for all sorts of wars that plainly have nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks — including its newfound bombing partnership with Russia in Syria. Under this resolution, Obama has bombed seven predominantly Muslim countries in seven years; a 2013 memo from the Congressional Research Service, requested by Lee, listed all the military actions and related abuses undertaken purportedly under its authority:

It’s impossible to overstate how correct Lee was when she warned that this resolution would constitute “a blank check” to wage war “anywhere, in any country,” and “without time limit.” Fifteen years later, this “war” is raging as destructively as ever, with no end in sight. Indeed, as my Intercept colleague Alex Emmons documented today, “Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the war on terror is still in its opening act.” Either one of the two leading presidential candidates is certain to use this resolution for all new expressions of this war.

Lee has never given up on this cause, repeatedly attempting to lead a repeal of the AUMF, though — in the face of opposition from two successive administrations, one from each party — she has never been able to convince her colleagues to do so. While her “blank check” warning turned out to be incredibly prescient, the other warning she issued, from the House floor on September 14, was even more profound: “Let us not become the evil we deplore.”

The 9/11 attack killed close to 3,000 innocent people, but the 15 years of wars, bombings, invasions, occupations, and other abuses it spawned — the bulk of which are still raging — have killed many, many more than that. Americans love to memorialize the victims of the 9/11 attacks, though the abundant victims of their own government’s actions (both leading up to 9/11 and in response to it) are typically ignored. Whatever else 9/11 is used to commemorate, Barbara Lee’s visionary warnings and solitary courage should always be near the top of that list. your social media marketing partner


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+178 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-12 13:23
I am thrilled that someone with conscience and compassion like Barbara Lee represents my district in Congress and I have been a supporter for many years.
Her stance took great courage and during the early years of the Iraq war I was proud to host several town hall events for her at the Grand Lake. At one of those appearances I was worried that the fire department was going to come in and arrest me as there were hundreds more people in the theater than there were seats!
THAT is how popular she is in her home district..
Too bad the DNC couldn't see fit to put someone of her stature up as a presidential hopeful….instea d we get Hillary.

(With Barbara Lee as his VP!)
+99 # vicnada 2016-09-12 18:02
Quoting grandlakeguy:
Too bad the DNC couldn't see fit to put someone of her stature up as a presidential hopeful…
(With Barbara Lee as his VP!)

+3 # Caliban 2016-09-14 13:38
Or, maybe -- Barbara Lee for PREZ with Bernie for VEEP?
+97 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-12 18:29
Another great memory of working with Barbara was right after Hurricane Katrina!
While Bush and Brownie were perfectly content to let people of color drown and starve in New Orleans Barbara reached out to me and we closed the Grand Lake for a day and set up a hurricane relief drop off under the theater marquee.
We were absolutely overwhelmed with the response and we collected eight semi truck loads of food, clothing, blankets and toys that were trucked to the needy people in New Orleans!

Photo at:

another at:

If all of our elected officials actually CARED about the people of our country and the entire planet like Barbara Lee does this would be a much happier world.

(With Barbara Lee as his VP!)
+45 # Radscal 2016-09-12 22:18

I just read that the DNC is meeting to consider HRC's health, and nominating a replacement!

Apparently, they can nominate anyone they choose (they are not required to nominate someone who'd been running in the primaries), so this is a good time to let them know we still support Bernie.

BTW: They wouldn't automatically nominate a different VP candidate, so please remind them that Tim Kaine is a liability, while Barbara Lee is a HUGE asset: Female, black, from the West Coast, and undeniably progressive.

Then we could finally elect our first female President when President Sanders completes his term, and his VP sweeps the primaries and general.
+12 # Navigatio di Brendani 2016-09-13 08:32
Thanks for news re DNC and Hillary's health! Why do I suspect possible billionaire Bilderberg pressure on DNC for that? Most folks here actually believe that only we Merkans have a deeply vested / invested interest in who the (nominal) leader of the American Empire, with its 1000 worldwide military and intelligence bases, is going to be.

Barbara Lee is amazing, and so was Jeanette Rankin, first woman elected to Congress and ONLY member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan. To see that she was every bit as prescient as Barbara Lee, see my Godot article, "The Clear the Board Monopoly Game of World War Two Explained in 3 Paragraphs."

I would love to see a small monument on the Mall in Washington with statues of Rankin and Lee standing side by side and holding hands in determined solidarity against the male dominant, hunter - killer INSANITY of the military industrial financial media academic congressional judicial executive complex.

*Attack on Pearl Harbor had similarities to 9/11. Warning of impending attack delivered by bicycle courier one hour too late. 4 aircraft carriers that should have been at Pearl not there. Only battleships there and Billy Mitchell proved that they were obsolete in war. Third attack wave to destroy fuel depot that took years to fill (or replace) cancelled. In 1930s we invited Japanese Navy observers to war games at Pearl that showed them how to attack a fleet anchored there. Japanese trained at our war colleges.
+55 # Thomas0008 2016-09-12 18:54
How can anyone, who thinks and investigates this country's illegal war history, not agree that this was one of the greatest votes on the subject ever. Especially, considering the time and circumstances under which it happened (9/11). What I don't get now is, how she sends me e-mails asking for money mentioning we must elect hillary??? Also, why, didn't Barbara, like Cynthia McKinney, push for and demand answers on what really happened that day, 9/11. We STILL do not have that truth and we need it badly.
+29 # IchapopCranium 2016-09-12 19:56
First and Foremost 21st Century American Hero, preceding and probably inspiring Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Who'm I forgetting?
+6 # Jim Young 2016-09-13 11:52
Quoting IchapopCranium:
...Who'm I forgetting?

Tulsi Gabbard! A look at her votetulsi vision section shows me where she has been for many of the same things we are, and if you look at her history, where she became enlightened by what she learned on the ground, meeting those others would belittle. She has not been bound by the casual prejudices we all seem to start out with, refining or even totally changing the balance of opinions when the evidence justifies it..
+8 # John S. Browne 2016-09-13 02:22

Yes we do have that truth, just not officially.

+14 # economagic 2016-09-12 20:07
You are very fortunate to have Barbara Lee as your representative. My Rep. (NC1, including parts of Durham and 23 other gerrymandered counties), is George Butterfield. He is the current chair of the CBC, and pretty good, though no Barbara Lee, making him one of only about three sane members of the delegation, counting as insane those who call themselves "conservative" but call only for radical change, always destructive of the good and beautiful work of others.

I lived in the East Bay for about six months in 1968-69, commuting by bicycle to work in Oakland from somewhere north (Albany?). I remember Lake Merritt (quite an amenity for a gritty town the size of Oakland), but not the theater. After establishing my status as a draft dodger I moved across the Bay, where I stayed for about six of the next seven years.
-11 # lcotler 2016-09-13 04:15
Very prescient, very courageous. But "Bring back Bernie"—NO! His words were good, but only actions are courageous.

He betrayed his words by endorsing the Gorgon, Hillary. He didn't have to. He chose to. There were plenty of reasons he could have demurred from his promise to vote Democratic.

Barbara Lee voted with his vote. Bernie "voted" his his endorsement to continue war.

Bernie betrayed us. Chomsky betrays us. All those who say they're so afraid of Trump that they have to vote for Hillary instead of Stein, are betraying their commitment to peace by voting for Hillary. We didn't need to foster dynasties by voting for Bush the Lesser, nor do we want a Clinton dynasty.

Vote for Stein and make a statement. Vote for Hillary and cave it to irrational fear.

+5 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-13 15:10
Dear lcotler:
I very much believe that Bernie was somehow forced to endorse Hideous Hillary.
The fact remains that all of Bernie's positions were the right ones to move this country forward domestically and I also believe that he did not speak out on foreign policy issues as any posture other than the usual kill, kill, kill, kill, attitude of our elected leaders would have labeled him weak.
The fact remains that he is the best candidate for this moment and would enter the race with the momentum needed to re-energize the young voters and trounce Trump!
I would also love to see Barbara Lee as VP.
+102 # RMDC 2016-09-12 13:26
Totally agree. Barbara Lee is among the giants in Congress. She has the simple honesty to see what is going on in front of her. I remember well her courageous stand. I love Oakland, Alameda, Berkley and that area and those people could not find a better representative than Barbara Lee.
+25 # Radscal 2016-09-12 22:13
It is traditional protocol to refer to Congress Members as "The Honorable... so and so."

But rarely does that honorific apply. My longtime Congresswomen, Barbara Lee is honorable.
+117 # Moxa 2016-09-12 14:33
I was stunned by the 9/11 attacks like everybody else. But what got me the most was the thought of those people trapped and terrified in the buildings, and their loved ones left to grieve amidst the horror of it. It was a terrible crime (committed by I'm not sure whom) and there were many victims. But the United States was not one of them; and the jingoism that immediately sprang up after the event was repellent to me. It was an awful time because dissent, as in the case of the heroic Barbara Lee, was not tolerated. Suggest that America might be even a little responsible for being hated by so much of the world, and you were chastised as a traitor. Along with those who perished, truth was the major victim of 9/11.
+61 # ericlane 2016-09-12 17:48
Moxa, it was a stampede toward a fixed agenda. All our voices were silenced. The largest anti-war movement in history opposing the Iraq invasion was never televised yet millions across the glove marched against it. Thank the Republican ideologues and greed masters for the massive damage and carnage that has resulted. That's why voting for a Republican is simply war mongering.
+28 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-12 19:47
YES! However voting for Hillary Clinton is ALSO war mongering!

THAT is why I must vote for Jill Stein!
+11 # ericlane 2016-09-13 02:13
guy, I disagree with you. I think the election of Trump would be a singular disaster, worse than George 'The Idiot Child' Bush. At least Hillary has acknowledged her mistake. And, I think, today she is wiser for it. We tend to forget that the invasion of Iraq was manufactured and led by George W. Bush and his cabal and I hold him and the Republican Party responsible for that war and its aftermath. I believe there should have been and still should be an investigation of the stampede to war and that all of them, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, et all, if found guilty, should go to jail. Of course, it will never happen.
+1 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-14 10:48
Look at the chaos and mass death Hillary created in Libya as SOS.
That is just one example.
She has learned NOTHING!
+17 # Radscal 2016-09-12 22:24
Watching the "man on the street" interviews immediately after the attacks, I was impressed with how many people said they didn't want this to excuse us going to war.

But, the corporate media reshaped public opinion.

Too bad you're still holding onto partisanship. Even if we excuse every single Democrat except Ms. Lee for their vote for the 2001 AUMF, there is no excusing the majority who voted for the Iraq War.

No one who voted for Iraq War II deserves our votes ever again. The lack of judgement (or worse) is disqualifying.
+16 # Henry 2016-09-13 08:01
Quoting Radscal:
Watching the "man on the street" interviews immediately after the attacks, I was impressed with how many people said they didn't want this to excuse us going to war.

Many many people were NOT calling for revenge, you're right! Including 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, with this quote on their web page masthead: "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
+19 # economagic 2016-09-12 20:09
I remember my first thought upon realizing that it was an attack -- asymmetrical warfare on a grand scale -- was of the blinded Cyclops striking out in rage, harming others while doing himself no good.
+1 # Caliban 2016-09-14 22:03
"The blinded Cyclops" -- great image, # economagic.
+1 # Charles3000 2016-09-15 19:31
I had zero surprise. They had tried two times before to send the message that US economic tentacles in the mideast and their corrupting influence were not wanted.
+72 # Graywolf 2016-09-12 17:06
Thanks to RSN for keeping her name alive!
+22 # vicnada 2016-09-12 18:04
Yes! and double our donations for this.
+12 # treerapper 2016-09-12 21:47
And, all the more reason for everyone to start supporting RSN financially. We need this access and everyone needs to dig into their respective pockets to ka sure we can continue to receive this type of reporting.
+18 # Hendrik Gideonse 2016-09-12 17:20
And you should all read and ponder deeply Jim Wrights Stonekettle Station blog at
I deeply, earnestly, fervently wish that our hectoring Curator would figure out how to charge very, very modest, penny's-only "landing fees" and assure that users are payers. I'm getting weary making this point but even wearier (wd?) with the monthly exposure to his almost unrelieved whining.
+1 # Patriot 2016-09-13 15:17
And I'm weary of being one of the tiny minority who help to pay for what most are enjoying as a free ride.

Whining? Whining? Marc Ash has been running RSN on about a half budget for most of this year. How is begging, peading foor money, for adequate funding, whining!

Get real!!

This site appeals to Progressives, people who want responsible government that is accountable to its constituents, that cares for the welfare of the planet, the nation, and its constituents, in that order.

Yet the vast majority of those who read here accept no responsibility for helping to keep the RSN organization running.

If you read, donate. It's that simple.

Have $1 per month transferred to RSN indefinitely. You can always cancel your transfer, but if it is indefinite, you'll never have to tend to it again.
+6 # Patriot 2016-09-13 15:18
Almost 1 million people read RSN last month, yet less than 1% contributed money to help meet its payroll, pay its utilities and rent, pay the writiers who contribute, obtain permission to reprint. All of that costs money. It must come ffrom us, since RSN neither solicits nor accepts funds from business or government.

We have many responsibilitie s--to pay our taxes to the nation, our state, our community; to show up on election days and vote as governors of our nation, state, county, city or town; to feed and house and clothe our families; to try to create a more perfect union for our chidren to live under. A free press is the most essential tool of the more perfect union--and new organizations like RSN, which is funded solely by its readers, are the sole remaining members of a truly honest FREE press.

But FREE press doesn't mean free to readers; it means free from government interference, censorship, or control.

If readers want a FREE press, they must hel to cover its operating expenses.

I am a contributor because I am a reader.

You're a reader, too: Are you a contributor? If not, please, become one TODAY.

1% of RSN's readership simply cannot meet RSN's budget.
+5 # Hendrik Gideonse 2016-09-13 20:11
Are you talking to me, "Patriot"? Can't use your given name like I do? What gives? What's your point?

I pay monthly. I've already done what you suggest. I'm not a dolt. I know how to authorize a continuing credit card transfer. I 'm just frankly amazed that Ash doesn't have enough appreciation for those of us who do pay regularly, or at least frequently, to figure out how to direct his hectoring e-mails only to those who don't give monthly or haven't given for some whatever period of time or maybe, even, (God forbid!) to figure out how to send a little "thank you" every time a payment is received. [9/14, came today!) Ash is killing his baby by allowing his frustration to poison the whole experience. He knows it. It's why he acknowledges he's going to lose some of us. For several months I've been thinking about pulling out and sending the money to Common Dreams instead. They are MUCH nicer about their appeals. I would still be able to see RSN's posts through the home website. The only thing I'd lose by doing that would be my ability to comment.

That's not a big thing for me; I have enough other outlets for expressing myself (local papers, legislative committees, Maine's misnamed "environmental protection" board the day after tomorrow, and so on). I value RSN's information, but I'd rather spend my money getting to those venues to testify.

I don't really like the feeling of always being subject to the Curator's sense of pique over others' failure to participate.
+1 # Caliban 2016-09-14 22:11
Marc Ash is not perfect, # Hendrik Gideonse, but he and the rest of the RSN staff deserve better than this long (but lame) critique.
+46 # ericlane 2016-09-12 17:44
I was with Barbara Lee back then and I am with her today.
+12 # Radscal 2016-09-12 22:27
I was very impressed that she refused to endorse HRC.

That she considers HRC to be less dangerous than Drumpf is something upon which informed people of good will may disagree. And it's looking more and more like the DNC made a horrible mistake in foisting that candidate on the electorate.
+9 # grandlakeguy 2016-09-12 23:58
It is not too late for the DNC!
Bring back BERNIE!
+40 # munza1 2016-09-12 19:12
The good news in this so deeply deeply shameful performance of all but one of our elected representatives is that this heroine does continually get elected, which gives some hope that the whole country is not part of the nightmare.
Thank you comment writers from the district for weighing in.
+25 # IchapopCranium 2016-09-12 20:19
Barbara Lee is our First and Foremost 21st Century American Hero. Senator Paul Wellstone the close Second, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Adam Kokesh, Medea Benjamin, Amy Goodman, Bernie Sanders, the entire Winter Soldier force, Helen Thomas, David Ray Griffin, Steven Jones, Sibel Edmonds, Jeremy Scahill.
+12 # tedrey 2016-09-12 20:40
Now there's a slate of candidates I could vote for!
+2 # sashapyle 2016-09-15 17:54
And our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock.
+5 # John S. Browne 2016-09-13 01:51

Selah, that is truth. The U.S. government and military, as well as the forces of NATO and U.S. allies, have "become the evil we (allegedly) deplore". Obviously, they do NOT deplore that evil, but relish it and have come to relish it more and more. The deaths of over two million innocent civilians, every single last one of them a murder because they are deaths which occurred in face of the fact that all these wars are illegal wars of aggression because all of the nations they have been perpetrated against did NOT attack the United States, are relished; though of course the war- mongers will falsely claim the opposite.

We are in a perpetual state of war, and under the increasingly oppressive and repressive existence of a standing army from shore to shore on U.S. soil, a situation that was meant to never come to exist at the hands of, and within the nation of, the United States. It is the exact antithesis of what the U.S. is supposed to stand for, and ONLY stand for, under any and all circumstances. But, because of many lies, manipulations, rationalization s, and false "justifications ", we now live under a totalitarian militarized police state from border to border, and we are inflicting mass-carnage on mostly innocent civilians the world-over, all of which should make every single American exceedingly ashamed.

(Continued below)
+5 # John S. Browne 2016-09-13 01:51

There are NO justified "excuses" for ANY of this, and we should all recognize, though most of us do NOT, that it is all completely contrary what the U.S. is only supposed to stand for. It is a grave disgrace that gets worse and worse with every passing day. I can just imagine that the warnings which many are giving concerning this entire state of affairs, are much like those that many Germans and others, most of whom were murdered by their own governments, gave about the hell on earth that Germany and its conquered vassal states were entering, and did enter, leading to the demise of many millions of innocent people at the hands of all the forces that were involved.

Now history is being repeated; and, under today's "Fourth Reich", led by the U.S. government, we are, due to the far larger size of the forces involved compared to the size of Germany and its allies all those years ago, headed into a hell on earth far worse than that which occurred previously. As a result, the oppression and repression carried out by these forces can only get far worse than anything that has heretofore transpired, and it is threatening the outward expression of all our True Freedom(s) and Liberty(ies), as well as the very existence of most of us on this increasingly benighted and environmentally -devastated planet.

+9 # bardphile 2016-09-13 03:02
Fifty years ago, two senators (Morse and Gruening)had the courage and moral clarity not to get stampeded into voting for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. History has vindicated them, too. And the Greeks had their Cassandra--give n the gift of prophesy, and fated to be disbelieved ...
+10 # IchapopCranium 2016-09-13 04:06
Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Cornel West, Cynthia McKinney, Gabby Giffords, Danny Casolaro, Gary Webb, William Cooper, Cindy Sheehan, James Gandolfini, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore
+8 # IchapopCranium 2016-09-13 05:56
Muhammad Ali
+16 # djnova50 2016-09-13 08:26
We have to admire Barbara Lee for her great courage to go against the system by voting against the AUMF. Even Bernie Sanders voted for it.
+6 # Jim Young 2016-09-13 11:23
Barbara Lee (and Tulsi Gabbard) have been ahead of me on issues I should have paid more attention to.

I suspect Barbara Lee may have the greater experience and consistent track record.

My interest in Tulsi Gabbard started when she resigned as the Vice Chair of the DNC, and represents Hawaii 2nd District (where my son was born). She started more conservative than me (a 5th gen Republican until 1996) on some issues, but may be the most improved, responding to evidence gathered from starting at a very young 21, and learning so much by the time she reached half of my age. She, like Barbara Lee, seems ahead of me on all the most important issues.

I absolutely do not put too much preference in voting for women (Margret Thatcher showed me why I shouldn't), but Lee and Gabbard remind me to start looking very deeply to find the matches in aim and priority, as well as the areas I can learn from what they have found.

To me, their support as two of the 161 co-sponsors of H.R. 20 The Government By the People Act of 2015 is a very personal connection point. Rep. John Sarbanes shared how it fits with the PBS "By the People" themes (Deliberative Democracy), in my case, with what came out of the June 2011 program described at
+2 # Johnny 2016-09-13 12:15
That "blank check" is exactly why the terrorists staged the 9/11 attack--PNAC's "new Pearl Harbor."
+2 # MidwestDick 2016-09-13 15:10
Right every time on " Homeland security" as well.

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