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Obama Misses 2nd Iran Chance

Sen. Jim Webb sent a letter today to the White House warning President Bush not to take offensive military action against Iran without the consent of Congress. The issue has recently cropped up in the presidential race, where Sen. Barack Obama former Sen. John Edwards have criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for voting in favor of an amendment designating a wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

Obama spent much of Tuesday's debate on the issue, hitting Clinton for offering the president what he characterized as the first steps down the path toward the use of force against Iran. But in what is apparently a missed opportunity to drive the point home, Obama was not among the 29 senators who signed on to Webb's letter. One source familiar with the process said Obama's office was among those asked several times to sign on. Clinton, however, did sign on.

Webb, who has recently become one of the party's leading voices on military issues, was joined by Clinton along with top Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, John Kerry and Jack Reed, among others, in affirming that congressional authority was not granted by an amendment designating the Quds Force a terrorist organization. That amendment, offered by Sens. Jon Kyl and Joe Lieberman, "should in no way be interpreted as a predicate for the use of military force in Iran," the letter reads.

The missed opportunity is not the first time Obama's Senate record has been put seemingly at odds with his campaign rhetoric on the issue. Obama's argument against Clinton has been questioned by some, who noted he missed the vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment in order to campaign.

Neither Obama's Senate office nor his campaign office returned multiple calls and emails seeking comment. UPDATE: Obama's office emailed through the following statement:

Senator Obama admires Senator Webb and his sincere and tireless efforts on this issue. But it will take more than a letter to prevent this administration from using the language contained within the Kyl-Lieberman resolution to justify military action in Iran. This requires a legislative answer and Senator Obama intends to propose one.

Full letter below the jump.

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

We are writing to express serious concerns with the provocative statements and actions stemming from your administration with respect to possible U.S. military action in Iran. These comments are counterproductive and undermine efforts to resolve tensions with Iran through diplomacy.

We wish to emphasize that no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action against Iran. This includes the Senate vote on September 26, 2007 on an amendment to the FY 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. This amendment, expressing the sense of the Senate on Iran, and the recent designation of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, should in no way be interpreted as a predicate for the use of military force in Iran.

We stand ready to work with your administration to address the challenges presented by Iran in a manner that safeguards our security interests and promotes a regional diplomatic solution, but we wish to emphasize that offensive military action should not be taken against Iran without the express consent of Congress.

Sincerely,


1. Webb
2. Akaka
3. Baucus
4. Boxer
5. Brown
6. Byrd
7. Cantwell
8. Carper
9. Casey
10. Clinton
11. Dodd
12. Dorgan
13. Durbin
14. Feinstein
15. Harkin
16. Johnson
17. Kerry
18. Klobuchar
19. Kohl
20. Leahy
21. McCaskill
22. Mikulski
23. Murray
24. Reed
25. Rockefeller
26. Sanders
27. Stabenow
28. Tester
29. Whitehouse
30. Wyden