Bush may not need authorization to launch attack against Iraq
August 1, 2002 7:11 AM   Subscribe

Bush may not need authorization to launch attack against Iraq (NYTimes, reg req).
Senator Trent Lott, the Republican minority leader, told reporters today that he did not think the administration needed Congressional approval for a major assault. He said that authority had been granted last fall in a resolution supporting military action against Al Qaeda.
"I suspect that Al Qaeda elements are in Iraq," Mr. Lott said. "The resolution we passed, we made it very clear the president has the authority to pursue the Al Qaeda wherever they may be found, in whatever country, which could very well include Iraq."

Hello? Article I, Section 8, Clause 11? War Powers Act Section 5b? I know they gave GWB the right to go after Al-Qaeda, but this is ridiculous. Should we deport one of our prisoners from Guantanamo to the next country that we want to make some changes in? Sheesh. You want to go to war? Fine by me - but do it Constitutionally.
posted by rshah21 (28 comments total)
Well, the War Powers Act lets them skirt the constitutional provision for declaring war, effectively, as I already discussed here.

(2) has extended by law such sixty-day period

That's the key provision in section 5b, so Congress can really just let the Prez do whatever he wants as long as they don't disagree, they are no longer bound by law to change it. And if the attack say took 59 days, on day 60 (assuming the President didn't get an extension, which is what would probably happen), they could always rename it as a peacekeeping mission and the definition of hostilities requiring a declaration of war would be moot.

Besides, right after Sept. 11 didn't Congress issue a general declaration of war on anyone who was our 'enemy'?
posted by insomnyuk at 7:20 AM on August 1, 2002

Hope me Barbara Lee!!
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:21 AM on August 1, 2002

"...And when the shadow of war has dispersed and the bright day of liberty has dawned once again, the power we now give to the Supreme Chancellor will be gladly, and swiftly returned. Out ancient liberties will be restored to us, burnished even more brightly than before!"
posted by Perigee at 7:23 AM on August 1, 2002

No worries. The majority of white male landowners support the President, and the Founding Fathers were only concerned with the rights of the white male landowners. So you see, this is totally legit.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:27 AM on August 1, 2002

First, my apologies for not posting this article into that previous thread - chalk it up to moral outrage.

But, since we're here...

1.) Introduction of forces into Iraq would invoke Section 4a of WPA - the president would need to report it to Congress.

2.) Any Iraq mission would probably take more than 59 days. I'm not certified military strategist, but this doesn't take a West Point education to surmise .

3.) At that point, Congress would have to declare war, and if they did so, well, then, the Constitution still works

As for the Sept 11th general declaration of war - no. He was given authority to go after Al Qaeda using military force. That wasn't a declaration of war (international law dictates you have to declare war on a state - you can't declare it on, say, the Red Cross).
posted by rshah21 at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2002

For those interested, the Senate Foreign Relations Committe hearing on military action against Iraq is on right now on C-Span (there's streaming audio/video), though today is focusing on what happens after we invade.
posted by kittyloop at 7:34 AM on August 1, 2002

There was a report on the news yesterday that said 76% of people support Bush getting Congressional approval before acting, and 26% of respondents saying he could act without it. It's poll numbers like that that will make Bush get congressional approval. It's less about Iraq then reelection.
posted by vito90 at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2002

I was wondering why I was seeing so many "Iraq Closer to Nuclear Bomb" stories start to pop at such a convenient time. Resident Bush musta created a "Department of Hysterical Rhetoric" along with the others.
posted by RavinDave at 7:44 AM on August 1, 2002

Um, vito, the numbers don't add up. Did 102% of the people asked respond?
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:47 AM on August 1, 2002

rshah21: When did Bush ever need to follow international law? :-)
posted by timyang at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2002

Don't criticize Bush, or the terrorists will threaten to strike again. It has happened every time so far...as soon as he does something that causes mainstream media criticism, those terrorists threaten to blow something up.

They have remarkable timing.
So if you want to continue to live in peace, free from terror--don't question Dubya! Just let him do what he wants.
posted by Fabulon7 at 7:53 AM on August 1, 2002

don't question Dubya! Just let him do what he wants.

posted by quirked at 7:56 AM on August 1, 2002

Maybe one of you know the answer to this question: is it true that we haven't actually *declared* war since World War II? Korea, Vietnam, etc. were "police actions," correct?

If this is true (and I'm not really sure), is the era of constitutional, and thus effectively citizen, control over whether the US goes to war over (and in fact has been over for nearly 60 years)?
posted by lisatmh at 8:17 AM on August 1, 2002

is it true that we haven't actually *declared* war since World War II? Korea, Vietnam, etc. were 'police actions,' correct?

I think you're right (and the Gulf War was a UN action, not a war between the US and Iraq).
posted by kirkaracha at 8:23 AM on August 1, 2002

is the era of constitutional, and thus effectively citizen, control over whether the US goes to war over

Absolutely, unequivocably, yes.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:32 AM on August 1, 2002

If you actually declare War, doesn't that have loads of implications for the economy (insurance, banking etc)??

Also, since when did this become a good idea?? Am I the only one who is scared shitless at the thought of Bush returning to the firework after lighting the blue touch paper?
posted by fullerine at 8:33 AM on August 1, 2002

no. Of the major US military actions, the following were wars / political actions:

WWII: Declared war on Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan).

Korea: UN police action (no war declared)

Vietnam: War on North Vietnam (based on the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident). Congress passes War Powers Act after this

Grenada: War Powers Act invoked - Congressional oversight declares US troops not in harms way after 60 days

Panama: War Powers Act invoked - Congressional oversight declares US troops not in harms way after 60 days

Gulf War: War declared on Iraq

posted by rshah21 at 8:35 AM on August 1, 2002

Ufez, oops, it should be 24% thought he could act without approval.
posted by vito90 at 8:36 AM on August 1, 2002

it's cool, vito. We understood the point at any rate. And i'm glad that the public at large at least want's the president to be under the law just like the rest of us peons.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:37 AM on August 1, 2002

We didn't get formal declarations of war for Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, etc. But, I think that we got a formal declaration of war for the gulf war. I remember that there was only one dissenting vote in the House. But I can't remember who it was.
posted by goneill at 8:44 AM on August 1, 2002

Everything out of the Beltway is smoke and mirrors. Congress wanting to cover their asses is what these hearings are about. If he wants to Bush will go ahead without Congressional approval simply on the basis of Iraqs' violation of the Cease Fire; that's the problem, there never was a peace treaty, only a conditional cease fire and Iraq has violated it from the beginning. Same thing with the Korean War, cease fire but no peace treaty, lots of N. Korean violations over the last 50 years but no talk of attacking them. Because we know they can fight back?
posted by Mack Twain at 8:55 AM on August 1, 2002

Constitutionally I don't know, I wonder how thomas aquinas is these days.
posted by johnnyboy at 9:32 AM on August 1, 2002

You're referring to Aquinas' ideas on just war, are you not, johnnyboy?
posted by insomnyuk at 9:48 AM on August 1, 2002

There has not been a formal "declaration of war" since World War II's declarations of war on Germany and Japan.

There were scattered deployments between WWII and the institution of the War Powers Resolution [its official name, from the text of the bill]. Sometimes congressional resolutions of support were sought, and other times not. The operative technique was either meeting a widely perceived threat -- or getting the hell out before Congress got to antsy about the deployment.

Korea was a UN-designated "police action", only possible because of the USSR's boycott of the security council over seating Red China instead of Taiwan.

The War Powers Resolution has provisions that have never been constitutionally tested; it's an open question whether they would survive a court test. Both sides use the WPA to manage the dance between constitutional provisions giving Congress the power to declare war but the President the authority to commit troops. Many times the act is invoked by Congress in a resolution that explicitly waives their oversight provisions; such is the case with September 14's resolution of force.

That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

The language gives the President wide latitude in "determining" which nations are subject to the act.

(b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

Section 5(b) of the act, as referenced, exempts the President from the reporting requirements when a specific Congressional authorization is in place. It's all gonna come down to whether there are votes against it.

Constitutionally, it is likely that there is no substantive difference between a 'declaration of war' and a 'resolution of force'; Biden has backed this interpretation. Certainly, under international law, the presence of armed conflict alone is sufficient to invoke the laws of war.
posted by dhartung at 10:44 AM on August 1, 2002

Doesn't it disturb anyone in the least that Lott is using Al-Qaida is being used as a justification for skirting law? Now anywhere we just think there are Al-Qaida cells can be targeted, attacked, invaded, etc. under the 2001 joint resolution. Scary open-ended for my tastes.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2002

QPSAT (Quick Political Scholastic Aptitude Test)

This test consists of one (1) multiple-choice question (so you better get it right!). Here's a list of the countries that the U.S. has bombed since the end of World War II, compiled by historian William Blum, author of "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II."

China 1945-46
Korea and China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Lebanon 1983, 1984
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Kuwait 1991
Somalia 1993
Bosnia 1994, 1995
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999

Question: Counting all of these Acts of War (since WWII), how many times did Congress actually declare war, thereby authorizing these attacks as Constitutional ?

Hint: (It's the same number as the answer below)

Question: In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result of the U.S. intervention ?

Choose one of the following:
a. 0
b. zero
c. none
d. not a one
e. a whole number between -1 and +1
f. zip
g. zilch
h. never happened

posted by sic at 4:42 PM on August 1, 2002

so much for democracy!
posted by sic at 4:43 PM on August 1, 2002

Nothing can stop Dubya from being a moron.
posted by mark13 at 9:19 AM on August 2, 2002

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