Members of Congress are taking steps to make the war on terror permanent — and make the Constitution optional — for future presidents. Only days after the killing of Osama Bin Laden, members are moving to relieve presidents of any need for approval from Congress — or anyone — in committing troops in the fight against terror. The bill would take the “The Authorization for Use of Military Force” passed after 9-11 (and used to justify two almost ten years of worldwide attacks) and extend it to allow military operations against any “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.”
While some members are still objecting to the third undeclared war in Libya (launched with no authority from Congress), other members want to give away any semblance of checks and balances on presidents in waging such operations. James Madison be banned.
The bill, approved last week by the House Armed Services Committee and heading for the floor this month, would replace the limiting language referencing Al Qaeda and the Taliban with the open-end phrase “forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” After the rollback on standing by federal courts, it is not clear who would have standing to challenge a president’s claim of “hostilities.” The bill would also violate international law by allowing the detention of “belligerents” until the “termination of hostilities.”
It is the latest radical change in the careful balance struck by the Framers in our Constitution. Members are continuing the trend toward the concentration of power in the president — a model expressly rejected by the Framers. During the constitutional convention and ratification conventions, the Framers repeatedly warned against giving a president this type of unchecked authority. Yet, the love for all-powerful leader seems to rest like a dormant virus in even free societies. Madison believed that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” and created the tripartite system to have each branch jealously guarded its own constitutional power. He did not anticipate so many members eager to surrender power to an ultimate leader.
No free nation can long exist as a nation engaged in a permanent and ill-defined war. This bill itself present a clear and present danger to our constitutional values.
Source: NY Times