Heard this during the Patreus hearings..... http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/04/AR2008040402581.html A crucial yet overlooked deadline looms over the Iraq debate: Unless further action is taken, the war will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2009. Despite protestations to the contrary, Congress clearly understood that it was authorizing the president to intervene militarily when it passed its joint resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq in October 2002. But it did not give him a blank check. It allowed for the use of force only under two conditions. The first has long since lapsed. It permitted the president to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq." This threat came to an end with the destruction of Saddam Hussein's government. It makes no sense to say that it continues today, or that our "national security" is "threatened by" the Iraqi government headed by Nouri al-Maliki. Instead, U.S. military intervention is authorized under the second prong of the 2002 resolution. This authorizes the president to "enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." This has allowed the Bush administration to satisfy American law by obtaining a series of resolutions authorizing the United States to serve as the head of the multinational force in Iraq. But here's the rub. The most recent U.N. resolution expires on Dec. 31, and the administration has announced that it will not seek one for 2009. Instead, it is now negotiating a bilateral agreement with the Iraqi government to replace the U.N. mandate.