Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Memo That Really Needs to Be Released

David French: In the post -- World War II era, American forces have been committed time and again even in offensive military actions without even the slightest effort to obtain congressional authorization. The latest example occurred on April 6, 2017, when President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike on Syria in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons against its own civilian citizens. Unless there is classified information we don't yet know, a strike of this nature is exactly the kind of military action that should require congressional approval. We were not at war with Syria. We were not acting in immediate self-defense of our nation. We were not fulfilling a Senate-ratified treaty obligation. Shrugging off the Constitution is a bipartisan practice. Who can forget President Obama's strikes against Libya?

More

We are steadily moving away from the separation of powers and toward an unconstitutional legal regime that places sole war-making authority in the hands of an increasingly imperial presidency. This is wrong. It's dangerous. It has to stop.

Comments

This is not a partisan thread and the writer of the linked piece raises an issue that should resonate with all of us.

#1 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-07 03:48 PM

Think of the children!

President Ivanka.

#2 | Posted by bored at 2018-02-07 06:02 PM

Sorry Jeff, you get many replies to this here, since your thread title didn't include keywords like dotard, unprecedented or very fine feral felchers.

It is a serious issue, though, but sadly most people either don't care or have given up in resignation. Might as well be posting about net neutrality.

#3 | Posted by sentinel at 2018-02-07 07:44 PM

*won't get

#4 | Posted by sentinel at 2018-02-07 07:45 PM

#3 agreed, Sentinel.

I was really hoping this thread would get some traffic, but I guess it's not an important topic to the DR residents, which is disheartening.

#5 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-07 07:58 PM

Maybe if your summary/analysis didn't so predictably jump to Obama...

#6 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-02-07 07:59 PM

Maybe if your summary/analysis didn't so predictably jump to Obama...

#6 | POSTED BY SNOOFY

Obama's Libya bombing was one of several examples cited. In the summary, the first example was Trump's bombing of Syria, without congressional approval, over the use of chemical weapons.

Don't be a hack. This is a serious thread addressing a serious and important issue.

#7 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-07 08:03 PM

America has given up on the idea of just or legal wars.

#8 | Posted by truthhurts at 2018-02-07 08:05 PM

Is the issue the ability of Congress to delegate their Constitutionally enumerated War Powers to the President, via AUMF?
I've always opposed that.
Here's the thing: Get Et_Al in here, and he will tell you there's no legal remedy for that which anybody has standing to pursue, through any court.
So, it's not an issue that's ever going away.
Well, maybe if Trump starts an ----------- war, Congress will somehow rein themselves in, but I seriously doubt it even then.

#9 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-02-07 08:06 PM

"America has given up on the idea of just or legal wars."

That's probably a good thing, since it's a stupid concept, dreamed up by famous Christian scholar Thomas Aquinas, who also "discovered" the soul arrives in the fetus at 40 days for a man, 80 days for a woman.

#10 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-02-07 08:07 PM

I'm with Jeff here, allowing war to be waged without Congress is unconstitutional and though other previous Presidents have done it, we need to stop it. All talk of additional wars today should be met with outrage. Realize, we are about to get into a war with a NATO ally over the Kurds. The disruption to world peace will be immense. A solution besides war needs to be found without us just bailing out on the Kurds who were absolutely instrumental in our war on ISIS.

#11 | Posted by danni at 2018-02-08 08:37 AM

#11 | POSTED BY DANNI

Kudos to you for recognizing the severity of this issue and kudos to Rcade for moving this thread to the front page.

#12 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-08 10:17 AM

The issue with this is a serious one. If approval was sought by Trump for a missile strike on Syria you know that his detractors would not have granted approval just for spite and if it was approved it would have taken too much time to be effective and the strike would have been leaked. I am all for congressional approval for war, don't get me wrong, but in this political climate it is a slippery slope.

#13 | Posted by fishpaw at 2018-02-08 11:04 AM

"I am all for congressional approval for war, don't get me wrong, but in this political climate it is a slippery slope."

The founders made a declaration of war a difficult thing to achieve politically intentionally. Think how much better off we would be today had our Presidents and Congress actually followed the Constitution.

#14 | Posted by danni at 2018-02-08 11:27 AM

It's definitely something that should have been addressed already but I think the lack of context is what is causing it to go unnoticed, or at least ignored. In context, we can see the bigger picture that is stated in the article, which is the the office of President is turning imperial. If a list of all the abuses and sidestepping were put together across the political spectrum that shows what President's have done that go against the purpose of checks and balances, we would see a trend line from 1800 that steadily goes up showing how much more power has been wielded.

I think Fishpaw's analysis is correct though, mainly because the checks and balances that were originally put in place do not account for immediate problems. Let's take a very partisan issue as an example. ACA was against the Constitution yet was voted into law by all three branches because it finally took care of some major flaws in the previous system. Necessity made it passable. However, if you talk to someone who wanted it done just because they are Democrat, they will say it's completely legal even though the Constitution specifically and in almost exact words says a service like that can't be forced. W did the same exact thing with the Patriot Act. It infringes our rights at a deeper level than the ACA ever possibly could yet it was signed into law, only because of the imminent threats at the time. Try passing the Patriot Act during a time of peace with no imminent threats to our lives. Try passing the ACA at a time of great prosperity with no imminent threat to our health. It just won't happen. During immediate threats though, getting something caught up in bureaucracy only pisses off both sides and eventually needs to be resolved by one person.

We need a modernized system of checks and balances. Of course, we need a lot of systems to be modernized in our country. But since we can't actually talk about anything, instead resolving to just arguing with each other based on party lines, we can't modernize anything. Just watch, people will try to argue with me about either topic I mentioned without actually knowing why the Constitution says it is not allowed, just because of party affiliation.

#15 | Posted by humtake at 2018-02-08 11:54 AM

Who can forget President Obama's strikes against Libya?

POSTED BY JEFFJ

..or GW Bush's invasion of Iraq
..or Clintons strikes in the Balkans
..or HW's adventure into Kuwait
..or Reagan sending troops to Panama and Grenada.

Don't be a hack. This is a serious thread addressing a serious and important issue.

#7 | POSTED BY JEFFJ

I agree that it's an important issue, but Snoofy also has a point. The US has not had a declaration of war since WWII. So you certainly make this sound like a partisan point by stopping short at Obama.

Presidents have gone pat the bound of the War Powers Act on a number of occasions.

The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30-day withdrawal period, without a Congressional authorization for use of military force (AUMF) or a declaration of war by the United States. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding the veto of the bill from President Nixon.

But do you believe the War Powers Act to be completely unconstitutional?

#16 | Posted by Whatsleft at 2018-02-08 11:57 AM

I agree that it's an important issue, but Snoofy also has a point. The US has not had a declaration of war since WWII. So you certainly make this sound like a partisan point by stopping short at Obama.

Except for the fact that I didn't do that. The summary at the top of the thread has the 2 most recent examples: Trump's Syrian air-strike in response to their use of chemical weapons and Obama's Libya bombings - neither of which even had an AUMF from congress and neither of which were an immediate act of national defense.

The article embedded into this thread chronicles other somewhat recent examples.

#17 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-08 12:11 PM

ACA was against the Constitution yet was voted into law by all three branches because it finally took care of some major flaws in the previous system.

Who defines constitutionality? Some anonymous blogger on Druge Retort or SCOTUS?

Our democracy worked as intended: congress passed a law, some people objected and took their objections to court. The SCOTUS said that the law (with some modifications) was constitutional. It's as simple as that.

Why do people insist on thinking that their opinion regarding the constitutionality of the ACA matters when SCOTUS has spoken?

#18 | Posted by FedUpWithPols at 2018-02-09 05:15 AM

We are steadily moving away from the separation of powers and toward an unconstitutional legal regime that places sole war-making authority in the hands of an increasingly imperial presidency. This is wrong. It's dangerous. It has to stop.

Yes: it is wrong, it is dangerous and it has to stop. However, as long as congress is the dysfunctional entity that it is, the power of POTUS will continue to increase. Congress is not the check on the presidency envisioned by the constitution; voters are. Unfortunately, a lot can happen in the 4 years that it will take for the voters to send a message to the president.

Congress needs to do its job and stop being the president's bit.h.

#19 | Posted by FedUpWithPols at 2018-02-09 05:22 AM

Obama's Libya bombing was one of several examples cited. In the summary, the first example was Trump's bombing of Syria, without congressional approval, over the use of chemical weapons.

Don't be a hack. This is a serious thread addressing a serious and important issue.

#7 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-07 08:03 PM | Reply | Flag

Obama had the authority by way of UNSC Res 1973 as per our treaty obligations of the UN Charter.

#20 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2018-02-09 06:00 AM

#19 | POSTED BY FEDUPWITHPOLS A

NW

#21 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 12:00 PM

Obama had the authority by way of UNSC Res 1973 as per our treaty obligations of the UN Charter.

#20 | POSTED BY LAURAMOHR

The US is a sovereign nation and our Constitution has primacy over institutions like the UN. He did NOT have authority to initiate a bombing campaign in Libya just like Trump didn't have authority for his bombing campaign in Syria.

#22 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 12:02 PM

The last justified war the US fought in was WWII. Perhaps not coincidentally, that's also the last time Congress actually declared war in accordance with the Constitution.

The problem of Congress giving unfettered military discretion to the President has been an issue for decades. With a legitimate toddler at the helm, it's a bigger problem than ever.

#23 | Posted by JOE at 2018-02-09 12:09 PM

The US is a sovereign nation and our Constitution has primacy over institutions like the UN. He did NOT have authority to initiate a bombing campaign in Libya just like Trump didn't have authority for his bombing campaign in Syria.

Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 12:02 PM | Reply

Liar he did too. This had been settled when congress took Truman to court over his involvement in the Korean Conflict. The court said he had the authority because just like Obama he was responding to a UN Declared mission.

NEXXXXTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT

#24 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2018-02-09 12:13 PM

#23 | Posted by JOE

Is there a form somewhere for a "Declaration of War" because the extant kill anyone, anywhere, anytime AUMF looks like a declaration of war to me.

#25 | Posted by et_al at 2018-02-09 12:46 PM

No he did not.

And drop the liar ----, shill.

#26 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 12:46 PM

#24 | Posted by LauraMohr

I'm not finding in that resolution authority to bomb Libyan military forces attacking rebel positions. Can you point that out for me? Using force to protect civilians is one thing but becoming the air force of the rebels is another.

#27 | Posted by et_al at 2018-02-09 12:51 PM

I'm not finding in that resolution authority to bomb Libyan military forces attacking rebel positions. Can you point that out for me? Using force to protect civilians is one thing but becoming the air force of the rebels is another.

#27 | POSTED BY ET_AL AT 2018-02-09 12:51 PM | REPLY | FLAG

Talk about hairsplitting. Winning the war "protects civilians", a line that has been used since at least World War 2.

#28 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2018-02-09 12:59 PM

#26

So you are fine with the US ignoring its treaty obligations?

#29 | Posted by DirkStruan at 2018-02-09 01:00 PM

So you are fine with the US ignoring its treaty obligations?

#29 | POSTED BY DIRKSTRUAN

Not at all. I don't see how the bombing in Libya, or more recently in Syria, was a treaty obligation. Also, even with a treaty POTUS still needs and AUMF (or a declaration of war) for any military action that is other than self defense of this nation.

#30 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 02:51 PM

Not at all. I don't see how the bombing in Libya, or more recently in Syria, was a treaty obligation. Also, even with a treaty POTUS still needs and AUMF (or a declaration of war) for any military action that is other than self defense of this nation.

#30 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-09 02:51 PM | Reply | Flag:

No he didn't Need congress just like Bush 41 didn't need congress when he started Desert Storm. He had the authority based on our Article 43 obligations within the UN Charter via UNSC Res 678 Please do try again.

#31 | Posted by LauraMohr at 2018-02-10 04:55 AM

Bush 41 got congressional approval for Desert Storm. he actually received fewer votes than Bush 43 received for his adventure in Iraq.

#32 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-10 11:11 AM

Pick up a copy of the Constitution and ------- read it, Laura.

Your ignorance of it is astonishing.

#33 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-10 11:12 AM

Looking back at our history during the past 60 years, I doubt that anyone can make a reasonable case for any form of war being conducted by the U.S. without a full blown declaration of war passed by Congress and signed by the President. We need to insist on a fully Constitutional process and all these pretend methods of taking us to war without a declaration of war have allowed terrible judgement to be used which has caused us to make war on nations that never attacked us. All of these excuses to make war without a declaration should have been declared unconstitutional but apparently our SC is only concerned with increasing corporate power and wealth not on actually acting to carry out our constitution. Today there are hints at war with Iran or N. Korea, I would hope that, considering our history, all Americans would demand that both houses of Congress approve any such war and that all voters should warn their representatives that if they vote for another war they will be thrown out of Congress on their asses. And any President that tries to do this unconstitutionally should be tried for treason. We have already endured the consequences of a President, not even popularly elected, taking us to war simply to give him the power of a "war time president." Today, we are again faced with the same situation and for the same reason. Both Presidents wanted to use the power they gained by being a "war time President" to privatize SS. The very suggestion of that should make all Americans' blood boil, it does mine.

#34 | Posted by danni at 2018-02-10 11:44 AM

#34 very well stated, Danni.

NW

#35 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-02-10 01:24 PM

"neither of which were an immediate act of national defense."

Where's "immediate?"
Not in the Constitution.

#36 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-02-10 01:43 PM

All of these excuses to make war without a declaration should have been declared unconstitutional but apparently our SC is only concerned with ...

The SC is only concerned with "cases and controversies" brought before them. What case brought the issue before them?

#37 | Posted by et_al at 2018-02-10 05:38 PM

"The SC is only concerned with "cases and controversies" brought before them. "

Not for Scalia's lack of trying.

#38 | Posted by Danforth at 2018-02-10 07:03 PM

Not for Scalia's lack of trying.

Citation required.

#39 | Posted by et_al at 2018-02-10 07:15 PM

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