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WAR POWERS

February 7, 2007

Your Montag wrote the following back in April of 2003; before I could even spell ‘blog.’ But, boy was I right. I’m not just saying “I told you so,” ’cause I didn’t tell you so. Maybe I did tell some of you, but that’s neither here nor there.

You know what? I’m not so sure that what I wrote about doesn’t still need to be done— immediately.

Your Montag
April-something, 2003:

In October 2002, George Bush convinced congress to surrender their constitutional War Powers to him. The joint resolutions known as HJ.Res.114 and SJ.Res.45 authorize the president to…

…use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to– (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Furthermore, in the joint resolution, Congress specifically relinquishes its own authority granted in the War Powers Act of 1973, the purpose of which was…

…to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.

Bush has already used these War Powers to wage a war in Iraq. When he failed to find a diplomatic solution, and failed to gain the support of the United Nations for a current, more pertinent resolution, he invoked twelve-year-old United Nations resolutions, 678 and 687. These resolutions were written as a result of Iraq having invaded Kuwait; but, out of necessity, Bush had to apply them to the (then [in 2002]) current set of circumstances.

Congress signed over their War Powers under the same set of circumstances: of Iraq not complying with said UN resolutions. What’s to say that Bush won’t attempt to continue to use the War Power granted to him by bending the resolution to fit the next set of circumstances where war suits his agenda? [Ahem.]

There is already hostile rhetoric coming from the Bush administration regarding Syria [read “Iran”]. They have already made claims that Iraqi leaders have fled to Syria, and that Syria has weapons of mass destruction. This rhetoric is coming at a time when there is still no evidence of weapons of mass destruction having been found inside Iraq. It could be argued that the claims against Syria create a set of circumstances, which could be used by Bush to invoke the joint resolution, by claiming that Syria’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction represents a continuing threat posed by Iraq. [Of course, it’s even more obvious now that Teh Decider don’t deal in “arguments” or “claims;” at least not the kind that one can make sense of.]

So far, the truth is, that weapons of mass destruction have not yet been found in Iraq, nor has any convincing proof been presented as to their continued existence in Iraq or anyplace else. [Today, we can’t even believe we bought all that shit about the WMD!] The American people have been asked to have faith in our Administration. Faith that they are telling us the truth, and that they are doing the right thing. No matter that the notion of war is an affront to the sensibilities of average people. No matter that we lack the support of virtually the whole world. No matter the appearance that Bush and the American corporate elite are lining up to profit from the rebuilding of Iraq.

The fundamental problem is that it is unfair to ask the citizens of the United States to have blind faith in their leaders. When Congress surrenders its authority under the War Powers Act, it undermines one of the all-important checks-and-balances that protect the integrity of our democracy. The deferral of this authority to the president also robs the American people of the chance of having their voice heard by their leaders. That is, a letter to one’s Senator or Representative has a better chance of being read, and of carrying some political weight, than a letter to the President.

This situation, where the people are rendered virtually powerless, is deplorable and unacceptable for the citizens of the United States. This is why it is time for Congress to reverse the joint resolution to authorize the use of force against Iraq. The Iraqi regime that was targeted by the joint resolution has been driven from power and does not prove to be a continuing threat. Now, Congress needs to send a clear signal that the joint resolution is not carte blanche for the President to wage war elsewhere. [Ahem.]

Still, important questions remain regarding the [imaginary] weapons of mass destruction. But, again, the regime that was so willing to [imagine] us[ing] them is gone. Congress should reserve judgment on whether these [imaginary] weapons pose a continuing threat. And, it is Congress’ judgment to make, in the future, when solid proof exists as to their existence, location and who possesses them.

Patriotic Americans should demand that their congressional leaders take back their constitutional authority relating to the waging of war. It is unpatriotic to sit by as Congress shirks its responsibility to represent their constituents in these matters. It is unpatriotic to yield this most important power to a single man. We must not let our democratic tradition become dictatorship.

So today, in 2007, the constitutional crisis, that even Your Montag could predict, seems to loom large as we focus on Iran. I’m concerned that the president, or the vice president— whoever’s running this motherfucker nowadays —is going to go apeshit and start something.

At least, in 2007, I’m not the only crazy, paranoid, marginal theorist fretting over a power mad, war mongering executive branch wiping its ass with the constitution.

Leonard Weiss and “Former Bush CPA adviser” Larry Diamond:

…we need Senate and House hearings now to put the Bush administration on notice that, in the absence of an imminent military attack or a verified terrorist attack on the United States by Iran, Congress will not support a U.S. military strike on that country. Those hearings should aim toward passage of a law preventing the expenditure of any funds for a military attack on Iran unless Congress has either declared war with that country or has otherwise authorized military action under the War Powers Act.

The law should be attached to an appropriations bill, making it difficult for the president to veto. If he simply claims that he is not bound by the restriction even if he signs it into law, and then orders an attack on Iran without congressional authorization for it, Congress should file a lawsuit and begin impeachment proceedings. [LA Times: Congress must stop an attack on Iran (Via: Kevin Drum via: Think Progress)]


This was my letter, again from April, 2003:

Dear Representative & Senators,

The purpose of this letter to request that you introduce and/or support a resolution that would, in effect, cancel out joint resolution HJ.Res.114/SJ.Res.45 authorizing the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq. The Iraqi regime that was targeted by this resolution has been driven from power, and does not prove to be a continuing threat. Please, send a clear signal that this joint resolution is not carte blanche for the President to wage war elsewhere.

Understanding the potential threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, congress is urged to reserve judgment on whether further military action will be required to deal with these threats. It is the constitutional authority of both congress and the President to make such decisions, as set forth in the War Powers Act of 1973. Please, do not continue to forgo this constitutional authority, as it is every member of congress’ responsibility to represent his or her constituents in these matters. This responsibility must not be carried by one individual, as this scenario does not provide for meaningful public debate.

HJ.Res.114/SJ.Res.45 should be made obsolete. It is unconstitutional, and effectively robs the American people of their voice in the war debate.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Constituent Montag

We’re gonna need a bigger boat more current letter.

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