Tag: War Powers

War Without End


On Face the Nation on Sunday, Mitt Romney said that if elected president he wouldn’t have to get congressional permission for a military strike on Iran.

I can assure you if I’m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don’t believe at this stage, therefore, if I’m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now.

Now douse that with some salt because this is Romney and he’ll say anything. But this is the apotheosis of the unitary executive idea cooked up under Bush and brought to its apotheosis under Obama. Obama blatantly ignored the War Powers Act in attacking Libya. And now, Romney is taking it a step further.

I think it’s pretty clear where I stand on this … where I have always stood on this. The Constitution gives the war-making authority to Congress, not the President. Right there in Article I, Section 8.

If Romney is elected and does indeed attack Iran without Congressional authority, the most fun/aggravating part which will be watching the Flopping of the Pundits, as the conservative ones race to say this is OK and the liberal ones scream about tyranny. Only a handfull will have said the same thing with Obama and Romney: this is not the way it’s supposed to work.

The Decider In Chief

This is pretty fucking unbelievable:

President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Holder was of the same opinion as Krass. But Obama really didn’t need lawyers to tell him this; he’s a Constitutional law professor. He knows that the OLC was right. But he decided to override their opinion anyway.

The claim within the Administration is that we are mainly providing refueling and surveillance and the Libyans aren’t shooting back, so we’re not really engaged in “hostilities”. But this is precisely the kind of legal hair-splitting that drove me nuts with the last Administration. If there is any doubt, go to Congress. Respect the law.

The big question — the one that Glenn Greenwald asked on Twitter — is why? Why are they playing these kind of legal reindeer games instead of just going to Congress? It’s very likely that they would have gotten the authorization they wanted and diffused the whole controversy. Greenwald attributes it to hubris and the love of executive power. I would go further. This is another hammer tap on the wedge into the Constitutional limitations of the office. Obama is pushing the boundaries further than Bush did, expanding the power of his office just one more degree. He does this so that he can push it even further in the future.

This is why it’s critical that Congress push back on this. As Lee said so often, the problem with the powers the President is assuming is what they mean for the next guy and the next guy. But it’s more than that. The problem is what happens with the next issue, the next issue and the next issue. If Obama can bypass Congress on war, he can bypass them on a lot more.

Maybe that’s the idea.

The Return of the War Powers

About time:

A bipartisan group of House members announced on Wednesday that it is filing a lawsuit charging that President Obama made an illegal end-run around Congress when he approved U.S military action against Libya.

“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who led the 10-member anti-war coalition with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

Whatever one thinks of the two wars George W. Bush started, he got Congressional approval for them (or at least got them to punt it). His own party pressured him to do so. And while Republicans fought Democratic efforts to stop or defund the wars via Congress, they did not dispute Congress’ authority to do so.

This is a President in open defiance of the law. What else are they supposed to do.

Of course, to the Lost Tribe of Liberals, the fact that Republicans are joining Democrats in this efforts means only one thing: racism!.