On September 14, 2001, with Americans still reeling from 9/11, U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) rose to address her colleagues in the House Chambers. The House was debating Joint Resolution 64, the Authorization to Use Military Force to pave the way for the invasion of Afghanistan. In opposing the resolution, Lee said “This unspeakable act on the United States has really forced me to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God for direction.”
When the votes were tallied, Lee was alone in her opposition. The House voted 420 to 1 and in the Senate, 98 to 0. Afterward, Lee received death threats and was maligned by the popular press. To this day, Rep. Lee (still representing California’s 13th District) has repeatedly introduced legislation to repeal the AUMF. As current events unfold in Afghanistan, it is as good a time as any to reconsider the importance of dissent and of demonstrating support for leaders who are willing to take a principled, unpopular stand based on their convictions.
This month, Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez interviewed Rep. Lee for The Cut:
The Washington Post also revisited Lee’s fateful vote and provided a video of Lee’s 9/14/2001 floor speech: She was the only member of Congress to vote against Afghanistan. Some called her a traitor.
The text of Lee’s speech at Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website.