When the House of Representatives voted, on July 12, 2007 — by a margin of 223-201 — against the Iraq war, the news media characterized the bill as requiring a “withdrawal” from that war-torn country. Media reports said that the legislation required the start of withdrawal in four months and mandated that it be completed by April of 2008.
Nonsense. The bill did nothing of the sort. Rather, it specified that its goal was to “require the secretary of defense to commence the reduction of the number of United States armed forces in Iraq to a limited presence by April 1, 2008” (emphasis added). The legislation went on to specify what it meant by a “limited presence.” It specified that the “president shall, at a minimum, address whether it is necessary for the armed forces to carry out the following missions:
“(A) Protecting United States diplomatic facilities and United States citizens, including members of the armed forces who are engaged in carrying out other missions.
“(B) Serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions.
“(C) Engaging in actions to disrupt and eliminate al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations in Iraq.
“(D) Training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces.”
Indeed, rather than require a pullout, the legislation requires the president to keep troops in Iraq if he finds that any of the above purposes are “necessary.”