Mitch McConnell fast-tracks authorization to give president unlimited war powers

January 24, 2016

Submitted by:  Veronica Coffin

Written by:  

Yesterday, during a visit to ISIS-friendly Turkey, VPOS Joe Biden said that if a political solution can’t be reached, the U.S. is prepared to use military force to “take out” ISIS or Islamic State (IS) and so end the civil war in Syria. The Obama administration has been carrying out “precision air strikes” on Islamic State (IS), but to no avail. (Source: Bloomberg)

Biden could make that promise because warmongers in Congress are paving the way to give Obama (and future presidents) unlimited war powers with no expiration date.

In 1973, to prevent “future Vietnams,” Congress passed the War Powers Act over the veto of then-Pres. Richard Nixon, to restrain the president’s ability to commit U.S. forces overseas by requiring the executive branch to first consult with and report to Congress. Although the Act was generally resisted or ignored by subsequent presidents, who regarded it as an unconstitutional usurpation of their executive authority, the Act nevertheless acted as a constraint.

In 2014, Obama did exactly that by declaring war against the Islamic State — a move considered by many legal scholars and even many members of Congress as illegal and unconstitutional. As Mike Krieger recounts for Liberty Blitzkrieg

President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written.

This became clear when White House officials briefed reporters before Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation on Wednesday evening. They said a war against ISIS was justified by Congress’s authorization of force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that no new approval was needed.

But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks.

Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate….

[Obama’s] refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) is fast-tracking an authorization that would give Obama unlimited war-making powers.

Mitch McConnell & Lindsey Graham

Sarah Mimms and Alex Rogers report for NationalJournal that late Wednesday (Jan. 20) night, McConnell surprised many members of Congress by fast-tracking a broad authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) authored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“Fast-tracking” refers to “Rule XIV” — setting up authorization for a future vote without putting the proposed AUMF on the Senate calendar, which means a vote can come at any time, or not at all.

McConnell and Graham’s AUMF would give the president unlimited war powers, placing no restrictions on the deployment of ground troops, or on time or geography. Even Obama’s claim of legal authority to wage war against ISIS does not allow for “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” nor is it unlimited in time, but would have expired three years after reenactment, unless reauthorized.

Mc­Con­nell’s spokes­man, Don Stewart, admitted in an email on Thursday that the new AUMF will not “tie the president’s hands”. 

McConnell’s move is an about-face, contradicting what he himself had told reporters last month: “It’s clear the pres­id­ent does not have a strategy in place, so it would be hard to fig­ure out how to au­thor­ize a non-strategy.”

McConnell’s res­ol­u­tion already has four Re­pub­lic­an co­spon­sors: Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, Daniel Coats, Joni Ernst, and Or­rin Hatch.

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Bob Cork­er (R-TN), while saying that there is still a “wide di­versity” of opin­ions on the is­sue, nevertheless argues with the Obama administration that no new AUMF is even needed. He said of McConnell’s new resolution, “I don’t think it changes any­thing [because] I’m in the same place that I’ve been—and that is I be­lieve the ad­min­is­tra­tion has the au­thor­ity to do what they’re do­ing.”

A Democrat warmonger, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who has ag­gress­ively ad­voc­ated for an AUMF, was thrilled Thursday that the Sen­ate could soon take up McConnell’s resolution. He argued that Obama’s war against Islamic State is illegal, “I don’t think there’s a leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for it. And I think the greatest danger we end up do­ing is al­low­ing the pres­id­ent to wage a war without Con­gress weigh­ing in.”

Mc­Con­nell’s proposed authorization for the use of military force will not “tie the president’s hands”. 

I cannot begin to emphasize how dangerous this new AUMF is, and what a threat to liberty McConnell et al. are.

~Eowyn

 

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