Rep. Barbara Lee’s lone vote in 2001 against the Afghanistan war has received renewed attention in recent days, but the lawmaker says she doesn’t necessarily feel vindicated.
Weeks after the 9/11 attack, Congress convened to vote on launching a war in Afghanistan. Lee was the only member of Congress to vote against it, urging her colleagues at the time to “pause” and think about what the war would mean.
“I almost wish, in many ways, that I had been wrong,” Lee told The Washington Post. “Because what’s taking place today is terrifying.”
Harrowing photos from Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul show chaos as American forces evacuate. President Joe Biden pressed forward with a withdrawal of US troops from the country, though Taliban forces took over in a matter of days.
Lee told The Post she feels “worry and sadness and anxiety” and she has a sense of urgency to help Afghani people who supported American troops during the war more than anything.
“I’ve got more to do,” said Lee, whose office is reportedly overwhelmed by media requests since the clip of her 2001 vote went viral.
After Lee’s move two decades ago, she was criticized, called a coward and even a traitor. Now, her remarks from the podium are being reframed as rational and insightful.
“How can we be rational as leaders when we’re grieving for the country, when we’re grieving for people who were killed, when we’re afraid for what might happen next?” Lee said.