3 Years After He 'Ended the War': Obama Declares Iraq a 'National Emergency' for U.S.

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 20, 2015 | 1:12 PM EDT

President Barack Obama at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, announcing that the war in Iraq was ending. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

(CNSNews.com)- President Barack Obama sent a message to Congress yesterday giving notice that he was extending the "national emergency" the United States has experienced as a result of the problems in Iraq since 2003, when the U.S. first invaded that country and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein.

President Obama pulled the last U.S. troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011. Then--while running for reelection in 2012--he repeatedly stated at campaign rallies that he had "ended" the war in Iraq.

"We've ended the war in Iraq," Obama said at a June 25, 2012, rally in New Hampshire for example.

"I've kept the commitments that I've made," he said in Iowa on Oct. 24, 2012. "I told you we'd end the war in Iraq. We did."

"You know I say what I mean and I mean what I say," Obama said at a rally in Florida on Nov. 4, 2012. "I said I would end the war in Iraq. I ended it."

The message he sent to Congress on Tuesday said that he was extending a "national emergency" becauase the situation in Iraq continues "to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

“Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date,” said Obama. “In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq that was declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, is to continue in effect beyond May 22, 2015.

“Obstacles to the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Obama said. “Accordingly, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq.”

A Congressional Research Service report published in 2014 explained that when the president declares a national emergency it triggers provisions in “numerous statutes which confer standby authority on the president.”

“Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution vests in Congress the power ‘to declare War.’ Pursuant to that power, Congress has enacted 11 declarations of war during the course of American history relating to five different wars, the most recent being those that were adopted during World War II,” said the CRS report.

“In addition, Congress has adopted a number of authorizations for the use of military force, the most recent being the joint resolution enacted on October 16, 2002, authorizing the use of military force against Iraq,” said the CRS report. “To buttress the nation’s ability to prosecute a war or armed conflict, Congress has also enacted numerous statutes which confer standby authority on the President or the executive branch and are activated by the enactment of a declaration of war, the existence of a state of war, or the promulgation of a declaration of national emergency.”

The CRS report includes a list of the statutory provisions triggered during a “national emergency.” The report--with its list--is available by clicking here.

President Obama visited Fort Bragg in North Carolina in December 2011 to announce the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. At that time, the president said he was “ending a war” and “leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.”

“It’s harder to end a war than begin one,” Obama said then. “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq--all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering--all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”

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