top of page

The Lowdown Hub

She was the only member of Congress to vote against war in Afghanistan. Some called her a traitor.

Rep. Barbara Lee faced death threats, insults and hate mail after she voted against a broad authorization used to carry out the war in Afghanistan

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) cast the only vote against an open-ended war authorization on Sept. 14, 2001. (C-SPAN)

Rep. Barbara Lee agonized over her vote, she said later, until that morning, when the California Democrat listened to the prayer of one of the country’s most prominent clergymen. It was three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and like nearly every other member of Congress, she was attending a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral. In his opening invocation, the dean of the cathedral, the Rev. Nathan Baxter, said, “Let us also pray for divine wisdom as our leaders consider the necessary actions for national security, the wisdom of the grace of God, that as we act we did not become the evil we deplore.”

When she quoted him on the House floor later that day to explain her vote against giving the president a broad, open-ended authorization for military force, she was called a terrorist, a traitor and close to treasonous. The House vote was 420 to 1. The Senate vote was 98 to 0.