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    Panetta: ‘International Permission’ Trumps Congressional Permission For Military Acti

    Panetta: ‘International Permission’ Trumps Congressional Permission For Military Actions
    Posted on March 8, 2012 by Conservative Byte
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    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared at a Senate Armed Services Committee congressional hearing, where he said “legal basis” was needed to initiate a no-fly zone over Syria.




    Panetta: ‘International Permission’ Trumps Congressional Permission For Military Actions | Conservative Byte
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    Déjà Vu: Obama's Military Actions in Syria May Be Impeachable | Print |
    Written by Raven Clabough
    Friday, 09 March 2012 15:00

    On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the Obama administration would seek “international permission” before engaging in war in Syria. Besides the possibility that it is merely a ruse — as there is growing evidence that the United States may already be covertly involved in Syria’s war — for the United States to seek permission from other nations to go to war is unconstitutional. For that reason, Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C., left) has just introduced House Concurrent Resolution 107, calling for the impeachment of the President if he declares war without congressional approval.

    Jones's resolution, which calls upon the U.S. House — with the Senate concurring — to prevent President Obama from starting yet another war without Congress declaring war. HCR 107 states:

    Expressing the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.

    Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the United States, the use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.

    The Obama administration has openly rejected the constitutional requirement of seeking congressional approval for U.S. military engagement.

    "Our goal would be to seek international permission and we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this," Panetta replied. "Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress, I think those are issues I think we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here."

    The Obama administration has previously violated the Constitution in electing to involve the United States in an attack on Libya without congressional consent, prompting some members of the U.S. House to issue a resolution demanding that the President explain his reasons for such a decision. The resolution was ignored.

    The Ohio Democrat told Raw Story, “President Obama moved forward [militarily against Libya] without Congress approving. He didn’t have congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that’s got to be said.”

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) declared at the time that President Obama’s approval of air strikes against Libya was officially an “impeachable offense.”

    Kucinich has been relatively consistent on the issue of unconstitutional wars, as he indicated his desire to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for similar actions in leading the United States into war against Iraq.

    Ironically, in 2007 Obama adhered to a philosophy similar to that of Kucinich, when as a Senator he declared, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

    Since taking office, however, President Obama’s views of the so-called War on Terror seem to have changed dramatically. Yahoo's Associated Content observed:

    Barack Obama has been obliged to renege on a number of his campaign promises surrounding the War on Terror. Besides keeping the prison at Guantanamo open, he has not made a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, has actually increased troop levels in Afghanistan, and has stepped up drone strikes in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. The joke is that Obama has killed more terrorists in the two years of his presidency than George W. Bush did in all eight years of his.

    In fact, critics note that President Obama has exhibited all the qualities worthy of a neoconservative’s praise. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has hailed many of Obama’s hawkish decisions, explaining, "I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience.”

    The discussion of a possible Obama impeachment was revisited following the targeted killing of American-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki last September, with no charges being brought. Texas Congressman and GOP presidential contender Ron Paul has observed that because of the President’s “flouting” of the law in the murder of al-Awlaki, impeachment is possible.

    Ben Johnson of White House Watch wrote of the assassination of al-Awlaki:

    Although federal agents have sought al-Awlaki since the Clinton administration, and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed following 9/11 allows the president to kill anyone he “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11,” al-Awlaki’s birth in the United States has many debating the proper interplay between national security and civil liberties.

    According to Rep. Paul, the assassination of an American citizen, regardless of the reason, "continues" and "accelerates" the "slip toward tyranny.” He added, "I put responsibility on the president because this is obviously a step in the wrong direction. We have just totally disrespected the Constitution.”

    Paul warned attendees at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, that permitting targeted killings of American citizens without proper due process could set a dangerous precedent:

    Al-Awlaki was born here. He is an American citizen. He has never been tried or charged for any crimes. If the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating who he thinks are bad guys I think it’s sad. What would the people have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn’t assassinate him. We were pretty certain that he had done it. And they put him through the courts and they executed him.

    Similarly, blogontherun.com wrote, “When the president of the United States can singlehandedly order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without charge or trial, we’re not just on the slippery slope toward dictatorship, we’re in free fall.”

    Paul added that virtually every U.S. President during his own terms in Congress had committed impeachable offenses. “I just said almost every President I’ve known I’d probably have to vote for impeachment, because there’s very little respect for the Constitution, and certainly there’s no respect for the Constitution [if they’re] assassinating American citizens.”

    Ironically, Panetta callled upon the Constitution in his defene of the President’s decision to seek international approval for military intervention in Syria. "When it comes to the national defense of this country, the President of the United States has the authority under the Constitution to act to defend this country and we will,” he declared.

    He did not explain how U.S. military intervention in the Mideast country of Syria is acting in defense of the United States or where in the constitution authorization for such executive branch action is found.


    Déjà Vu: Obama's Military Actions in Syria May Be Impeachable

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    Obama Adm. Will Seek "International Permission" for Going to War | Print |
    Written by Jack Kenny
    Thursday, 08 March 2012 20:30

    PanettaSecretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Wednesday that the Obama administration would seek "international permission" before intervening military in Syria's civil war. Both men left open, however, the question of whether the approval of Congress would be either sought or required. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) pressed Panetta repeatedly on that question, but failed to get a definitive answer.

    "We're worried about international legal basis, but no one's worried about the fundamental constitutional legal basis that this Congress has over war," Sessions protested. Referring to the last year's bombing raids by the United States and United Nations allies in Libya, Sessions said: "We were not asked, stunningly, in direct violation of the War Powers Act, whether or not you believe it's constitutional, [the Libyan raids] certainly didn't comply with it. We spent our time worrying about the UN, the Arab League, NATO, and too little time worrying about the elected representatives of the United States," Sessions said. "Do you think you can act without Congress and initiate a No Fly Zone in Syria, without congressional approval?" he asked Panetta.

    "Again, our goal would be to seek international permission and we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this," Panetta replied. "Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress, I think those are issues I think we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here." Sessions made it clear he was not pleased with what he heard.

    "Well, I'm almost breathless about that," the Alabama lawmaker replied. "Because what I heard you say is, we are going to seek international approval and then we'll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek Congressional approval. I want to say to you, that's a big deal, wouldn't you agree? You served in the Congress," he reminded Panetta, a U.S. representative from California from 1977-1993. "Wouldn't you agree that would be pretty breathtaking for the average American? So would you like to clarify that?"

    " I've also served with Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents who have always reserved the right to defend this country if necessary," replied the former CIA director, who succeeded Robert Gates as Defense Secretary in 2011. Panetta did not explain how last year's bombing in Libya was, or a potential military intervention in Syria might be, a defense of the United States.

    "But before you do this you would seek permission of the international authorities?" Sessions asked.

    "If we are working with an international coalition and we're working with NATO we would want to be able to get appropriate permissions in order to be able to do that. That's something that all of these countries would want to have — some kind of legal basis on which to act."

    "What kind of legal basis are you looking for? What entity?" asked Sessions.

    "If NATO made the decision to go in, that would be one," said Panetta. "If we developed an international coalition beyond NATO then some kind of U.N. Security Resolution..."

    "So you are saying NATO would give you a legal basis ... and an ad hoc coalition of the United Nations would provide a legal basis?" Sessions asked. "Well who are you asking for the legal basis from?"

    "If the UN passed a Security Resolution as it did with Libya, we would do that," the Defense Secretary answered. "If NATO came together as it did in Bosnia, we would rely on that, so we have options here if we want to build the kind of international approach dealing with the situation."

    "I'm all for having international support," Sessions conceded, "but I'm really baffled by the idea that somehow an international assembly provides a legal basis for the United States military to be deployed in combat. I don't believe it is close to being correct. They provide no legal authority. The only legal authority that is required to deploy the United States military is the Congress and the President and the law and the Constitution." Panetta's response was interesting more for what it did not say than for what he said.

    "Let me for the record be clear again," he replied. "When it comes to the national defense of this country, the President of the United States has the authority under the Constitution to act to defend this country and we will." The Secretary neatly sidestepped the Senator's point about the power and responsibility of Congress under the Constitution to decide whether and when to wage war. Panetta's response suggests the President can unilaterally commit the nation to war, even in the in the absence of an actual or imminent attack upon the United States. That runs counter to both the text and history of the Constitution, which names the President as commander in chief of the armed forces, but delegates to Congress the power to declare war. According to Madison's notes at the Constitutional Convention, the word "declare" was substituted for wording giving Congress the power to "make war," because the delegates did not want to deny to the President the duty and power to use military force to repel a sudden attack. Had the intention been merely to give Congress the role of announcing to the world that the President has decided to attack another country, that role could hardly be considered among the "powers" delegated to the Congress. It would more resemble a task for the President's press secretary.

    The War Powers Resolution referenced by Sessions was passed by Congress in 1973 after President Nixon had been waging secret wars in Laos and Cambodia. It forbids sending U.S, forces into military action abroad without authorization of Congress except in case of "a national emergency created by an attack on the United States, its territories or possessions or its armed forces." It further requires the President to notify the Congress within 48 hours of deploying troops in such an emergency and requires the troops to be removed within 60 to 90 days of their deployment unless there is an authorization of the use of military force or declaration of war by Congress. The joint resolution was passed by a two-thirds vote of Congress over President Nixon's veto and has been ignored ever since, most notably during President Clinton's bombing of Bosnia in 1999 and by President Obama's air war in Libya in 2011.

    In his testimony Wednesday, Panetta stressed the importance of getting international "permission" for taking military action, relegating the approval of Congress, should it be sought at all, to the status of a national afterthought.

    "If it comes to an operation where we are trying to build a coalition of nations to work together to go in and operate as we did in Libya or Bosnia, for that matter Afghanistan, we want to do it with permissions either by NATO or by the international community," he said.

    Sessions also questioned the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs about the legal basis for military action. General Dempsey listed three criteria: the United States would be "invited in" by a government under attack, would be acting in self-defense or would be operating "with some kind of international legal basis; an UNSCR [United Nations Security Resolution]...."

    "Wait a minute, let's talk about an international legal basis," Sessions replied. "You answer under the Constitution to the United States government, do you not? And you don't need any international support before you would carry out a military operation authorized by the commander-in-chief..."

    "No of course not," Dempsey answered. "That's the second one I mentioned."

    "I just want to know, because there's a lot of reference here to international matters before we make a decision," Sessions said. "And I want to be sure that the United States military understands, and I know you do, that we're not dependent on a NATO resolution or a U.N. resolution to execute policies consistent with the national security of the United States."


    Obama Adm. Will Seek "International Permission" for Going to War

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