Monte Kuligowski
April 8, 2011
Per the War Powers Resolution (and his own words), Obama should be impeached
By Monte Kuligowski

President Obama ordered a non-emergency military attack on a sovereign country without the authorization of Congress.

Immediately after Obama thundered Tomahawk explosives into Libya, GOP leaders should have condemned the president's unilateral order. They should have described the attack as "unconstitutional." They should have repeated Obama's own words which were directed at President George W. Bush.

In 2007, Mr. Obama accurately told the Boston Globe that, "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." By his own admission, President Obama subverted the U.S. Constitution.

Adding to the current administration's sincere view of the constitutional jurisdiction of the president are the words of Vice President Joe Biden. In 2007, Adam Leech reported that: "Presidential hopeful Delaware Sen. Joe Biden stated unequivocally that he will move to impeach President Bush if he bombs Iran without first gaining congressional approval."

In context of the Iran nuclear crisis, Biden warned that, "The president has no authority to unilaterally attack Iran and if he does, as Foreign Relations Committee chairman, I will move to impeach."

Those are fairly strong words. But a military attack in a non-imminent-threat situation without congressional approval deserves stern language.

Sometime later, Biden appeared on Chris Matthews' show and was asked if he stood by his remarks warning Bush against bombing Iranian facilities. Biden was unequivocal once again:

"The reason I made the comment was as a warning. ... I don't say those things lightly Chris. ... I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee for 17 years ... I teach separation of powers in constitutional law. This is something I know. So I got together and brought a group of constitutional scholars together to write a piece that I'm gonna deliver to the whole United States Senate, pointing out the president has no constitutional authority to take this nation to war against a country of 70 million people unless we're attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does ... I will move to impeach him. ... I would lead an effort to impeach him."

Never mind that the House, not the Senate leads the effort to impeach. We get Joe's point loudly and clearly: If George W. Bush had done what Obama did without congressional debate and authorization Biden would have supported impeachment and voted for conviction in the Senate.

Unsurprisingly, many of the same Democrat politicians who viciously condemned Bush (who acquired congressional authorization for Afghanistan and Iraq) now whole heartedly support Obama's unilateral military attack.

President Obama sent Congress a letter, citing the War Powers Resolution of 1973 as the basis for his mere notice — two days after commencing the military offensive against Libya. True, the Resolution allows the president to notify Congress by report within 48 hours of launching a military assault. Unfortunately, however, the notice requirement only applies after a president responds to an actual attack.

The Resolution authorizes the president to unilaterally release the killing power of the U.S. military in only one circumstance: "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." In non-emergency situations, the Resolution requires either a congressional "declaration of war" or "specific statutory authorization" prior to a president's dispatch of the U.S. military into hostilities.

The Resolution codifies the spirit of commonsense with respect to executive military power.

The Resolution allows the president to act with rapid dispatch in the event of emergency created by attack on the U.S., its territories or its military. And I don't believe many would quarrel over a distinction between attack and imminent attack on the United States when American lives are at stake.

What the Resolution attempts to preserve is the right of the people, under the Constitution, to deliberate via their representatives prior to a president ordering a military offensive. The Resolution makes congressional debate the protocol in non-emergency situations such as Libya. In non-emergency situations, the case for military attack should always be made in Congress. The consent of the people should always be acquired prior to committing precious American lives and resources.

That's just a basic principle of popular sovereignty and representative government.

Barack Obama stated the law soundly in 2007. Presently, Mr. Obama is making no sense in his attempts to justify his order of military force without congressional authorization when no threat of attack existed. Obama has surrendered U.S. military sovereignty to a U.N. committee in order to protect unknown rebel forces in a foreign country.

Mr. Obama's tenable doctrinal statements which were directed toward Bush should be applied to Obama today. Mr. Obama cites the War Powers Resolution in his letter to Congress but cites no U.S. emergency to justify bypassing Congress.

When Mr. Obama took office we were already knee deep in his hypocrisy. At this point we are swimming in it. Whether he is speaking about "unprecedented transparency" while concealing basic records or talking of "fiscal responsibility" while burying the country in unprecedented debt, Obama seems to get away with saying one thing while doing the opposite.

Obama should be judged by his own words.

The opposition party should be calling for his impeachment not endorsing his unlawful and sovereignty-surrendering actions.

© Monte Kuligowski

 

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Monte Kuligowski

Monte Kuligowski is an attorney and writer whose legal scholarship, including "Does the Declaration of Independence Pass the Lemon Test?" (Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy), has been published in several law journals... (more)

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