On June 16, 2005, forty-one Democratic members of the House of Representatives formally established the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus (OICC), an entity dedicated to agitating for a swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Iraqi theater of war. According to OICC, the Bush administration had launched America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq on the pretext of lies and deliberately manipulated intelligence. The nominal co-founders of Caucus were John Conyers, William Delahunt, Barbara Lee, John R. Lewis, Charles Rangel, Jan Schakowsky, Maxine Waters (chairwoman of the organization), and Lynn Woolsey.
Formally announcing OICC’s formation on June 21, 2005, Rep. Waters quoted the antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan’s assertion that “the leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence.”
At the same June 21, 2005 event, Barbara Lee accused the Bush administration of having “misled the American people and the world that there were no [sic] weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Lynn Woolsey, meanwhile, asserted that Bush had sent soldiers “to do a job that was not necessary.” And Charles Rangel accused the President not only of mishandling the situation in Iraq, but also of recklessly “rattling swords in North Korea” and “threatening Syria and Iran.”
By January 2007, OICC’s membership had grown to 74 House members, all Democrats.
More than half of the 74 OICC members also belonged to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And 29 had signed a May 14, 2005 letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, calling for a special prosecutor to investigate claims that “high-ranking officials within the Bush Administration [had] violated the War Crimes Act … or the Anti-Torture Act … by allowing the use of torture techniques banned by domestic and international law at recognized and secret detention sites in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.”
In late 2006 and early 2007, Maxine Waters, in her role as OICC chair, collaborated on several antiwar events with United For Peace and Justice, the massive coalition which was then headed by the pro-Castro communist Leslie Cagan.
OICC was adamantly opposed to President Bush’s January 2007 decision to stage a “troop surge” that would send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq in an attempt to turn the tide of America’s then-failing war effort. That month, eleven OICC leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her “to oppose any efforts by the [Bush] Administration to escalate the Iraq War, including deployment of additional U.S. troops to Iraq.” Asserting that Bush’s proposed surge would do nothing to “end the violence in Iraq,” the letter excoriated the President for “continu[ing] to mislead the American people by claiming that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States and its allies.”
By 2009, OICC was largely inactive because President Bush’s troop surge had been so successful in restoring stability to Iraq.
When the last American troops left Iraq in December 2011, OICC ceased to exist.
For additional information on OICC, click here.