Iran General NewsRivals challenge Clinton on her vote for Iran measure

Rivals challenge Clinton on her vote for Iran measure

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New York Times: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democratic opponents said at the debate on Tuesday night that she had voted for an amendment against Iran that would ultimately embolden President Bush to one day take military action against that nation. The New York Times

By JIM RUTENBERG and MICHAEL COOPER
Published: October 31, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democratic opponents said at the debate on Tuesday night that she had voted for an amendment against Iran that would ultimately embolden President Bush to one day take military action against that nation.

It is a fear that has been shared widely within the party.

The amendment in question, sponsored by Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, was actually a nonbinding “Sense of the Senate” resolution that gave Mr. Bush no such authorization — unlike the 2002 resolution on Iraq, which flatly stated, “The president is authorized to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate.”

The so-called Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which passed easily, declares that it is the “sense of the Senate” that the way the United States structures its future military presence in Iraq “will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region.”

It also stated that it was a “a national interest of the United States” to prevent Iran from turning Iraqi Shiite extremists into a Hezbollah-like force serving its interests inside Iraq. It called for the administration to press forward with plans for sanctions and urged it to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, who has been highly critical of Mrs. Clinton’s vote on the amendment though he himself was not present for it, was a sponsor of a bill that similarly called for that “terrorist designation” for the Iranian group.

And though Mr. Obama said there should be no talk of attacking Iran, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has noted that he has spoken with bellicosity about Iran and its intentions in the past. In a 2006 speech, he said: “If the Iranians and Syrians think they can use Iraq as another Afghanistan or a staging area from which to attack Israel or other countries, they are badly mistaken. It is in our national interest to prevent this from happening.”

But Mr. Obama’s campaign said that statement was made in the broader context of diplomacy with Iran and Syria. And, his aides said, the legislation he had supported in March did not include language linking the United States’ military posture in Iraq to the perceived threat from Iran.

Senators Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr., both on the stage on Tuesday, have each said that language could be used by Mr. Bush to pursue war, and many Democratic voters have expressed similar fears in the blogosphere.

Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina said the amendment “looks like it was written literally by the neocons.”

Two paragraphs were altered in the final bill in a bid to reassure critics that the proposal would not give Mr. Bush justification for military action, including one that said the United States policy should be to “combat, contain and roll back” Iranian activities inside Iraq. (That phrase was deleted.)

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