US lawmaker who repudiated his vote for Iraq war dies
North Carolina Republican Congressman, Walter Jones (left), and his Democratic colleague James McGovern, of Massachusetts (d) at a press conference in Capitol Hill, Washington. On Dec. 1, 2009. EPA-EFE / Matthew Cavanaugh / FILE
Washington, Feb 11 (epa-efe).- US congressman Walter Jones, best known for repudiating his support for military intervention in Iraq, died over the weekend as a result of a fall at his home last month, his office said. He was 76.
Jones represented his North Carolina district for 24 years as a Republican, though he started his political career as a Democrat.
"Congressman Jones will long be remembered for his honesty, faith and integrity. He was never afraid to take a principled stand. He was known for his independence, and widely admired across the political spectrum. Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognized that he did what he thought was right," his office said in a statement.
Jones supported then-President George W. Bush in 2002 in the decision to invade Iraq based on intelligence that Saddam Hussein's was continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction.
His initial enthusiasm for the project was such that in 2003, he reacted to France's criticism of the US military intervention by pushing the Capitol cafeteria to rename french fries as "freedom fries."
In 2004, a report prepared by US government inspectors determined that the suspicions about WMDs in Iraq were unfounded.
But it was not those findings that turned Jones against the war, rather it was his experience of attending the funeral of a US Marine Corps sergeant who was killed in Iraq.
Hearing from the Marine's family at the funeral convinced Jones that the toll of human lives in the Iraq conflict was intolerably high.
Following that episode, the Republican, whose district included the Camp Lejeune Marine base, set himself the task of writing to the families of US military personnel killed in action.
"I have signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who've lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that was for me asking God to forgive me for my mistake," Jones said in a 2017 interview with US National Public Radio.
Last year, Jones joined with California Democrat Barbara Lee in calling on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to replace the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) adopted following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the 2002 AUMF that led to the Iraq war with new legislation that was "specific, tailored, limited and clear."
The North Carolinian was also among the original Republican co-sponsors of a resolution demanding an end to US involvement in the war in Yemen.