I just completed a two-city debate with former Bush official John Yoo on executive power with a focus on undeclared wars. It appears Yoo won the debate . . . at least with President Obama. Indeed, Yoo appears to have had Obama at “hello” to quote Jerry Maguire. Without any declaration of war, Obama has launched attacks against targets in Syria — an act of war by any measure and a violation of international law.
We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area.
The most serious acts of unilateral presidential action falls within war powers — powers that the Framers expressly and carefully limited to prevent precisely this type of attack. Of course, the Administration does not use the word “war.” I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing.
The White House insisted that this was “military action” but that “[g]iven that these operations are ongoing, we are not in a position to provide additional details at this time. The decision to conduct theses strikes was made earlier today by the U.S. Central Command commander under authorization granted him by the commander in chief.”
The Administration is now calling this a “sustained campaign” with no estimate on how long it will take. So we are again attacking another nation without a declaration or even a debate in Congress. Members are allowed to avoid their constitutional duties of clearly declaring a war while the President has been allowed, again, to jettison any limitations on his ability to wage war.
It is one thing to take out our own captured Humvees (with missiles costing $250,000 a shot) in Iraq with the permission of the country and hitting cities and targets in Syria against the express position of the government. That is clearly an act of war to prosecute a military campaign against the territory of a sovereign nation.
We are continuing an assault on basic principles of international war and returning the word to a state of nature. When another country elects to take our individuals or targets in the United States, what precisely will we claim as authority. We have assumed the role of Roper from “A Man For All Seasons“:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
Source: ABC News