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President Obama Must Not Act In Iraq Without Congressional Authorization

Obama Marine One

Yesterday, the White House announced that President Obama had authorized the transfer of 275 American soldiers to Iraq in response to the advances made on the battlefield by ISIS/ISIL and its Sunni supporters and the threat that it could pose to Baghdad itself. Ostensibly, these forces are meant to beef up security at the vast American Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone, but there seems to be at least some implication that they would also be coordinating with the Iraqi military in its defenses against the militants that have scored such stunning successes recently. Additionally, there have been reports that the Administration has been considering air strikes against ISIS/ISIL targets in an effort to aid the Iraqi military by slowing the militant’s advances. Leaving aside the question of whether or not such air strikes would even accomplish anything militarily outside of a short-term solution that doesn’t address Iraq’s political problems, National Journal’s James Oliphant notes that questions are being raised about the President’s legal authority to launch such attacks without obtaining Congressional authority:

As the White House grapples with military options for intervening in Iraq to protect Baghdad from Sunni terrorists, it’s also examining how an air strike can be justified under U.S. law.

It’s not a question without significance, especially for an administration that likes to say it holds the rule of law above all else (even as it adopts elastic interpretations to suit its ends).

Indeed, despite the U.S. military operating freely in Iraq for eight years during its occupation, a potential strike against forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its allies presents a tougher call than it appears.

For one thing, the administration has in no uncertain terms repeatedly declared the conflict in Iraq to be over—and in 2011, the United States effectively pulled out of the country after an agreement to leave a more robust U.S. presence couldn’t be reached with the Iraqi government. That means the White House may no longer be able to seek legal cover by invoking the 2002 law passed by Congress that authorized the Iraq invasion.

“It’s a bad argument,” said Bobby Chesney, an expert on national security law at the University of Texas. “Obviously, the context was for action against the government of Iraq.”

Chesney conceded that the law was used for years afterward to justify continued U.S. operations in the country after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, but, he said, “We’ve been out for years. To go in there and attack ISIS—it’s really a fresh fight.”

Moreover, the administration has come out in favor of repealing the Iraq Authorization of Military Force—and Obama reiterated last week that he hasn’t changed his mind. That makes asserting it now, at best, inconvenient and at worst, highly hypocritical.

The White House could instead invoke the broader 2001 AUMF that authorized U.S. action against al-Qaida in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The main problem with that? Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has denounced ISIS for its conduct in Syria, where it has clashed with an al-Qaida backed group.

In addition, Chesney noted, the 9/11 AUMF was intended to warrant preemptive action against threats to the United States—and there has been little evidence that ISIS has America on its mind. The best thing for the administration’s legal position, he joked, is if al-Zawahiri issues a press release praising ISIS and hinting at reconciliation.

(…)

So far, the White House is checking the boxes. Monday evening, as called for by the War Powers Act, it notified Congress of the deployment of almost 300 troops to help protect U.S. personnel in Iraq. But it seems unlikely Obama will seek any sort of formal approval from lawmakers before engaging ISIS—even though, at present, the administration appears to be pursuing diplomatic solutions to the crisis.

“When he spoke on the South Lawn last week, the president made clear we will consult closely with Congress on Iraq as we make determinations about appropriate action,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council. “He has not made a decision to undertake military action at this stage, so I’m not going to get ahead of the process and discuss what legal authorities might go along with any hypothetical military action.”

Buzzfeed’s Kate Nocerra notes that several Senators are already starting to raise te issue of the Administration’s legal authority to act:

WASHINGTON — Senate critics of President Barrack Obama’s war on terror efforts are warning the White House must come to Congress for authority if he wants to launch significant military action in Iraq.


Democrats and Republicans alike have raised questions about the authority of the Obama administration to wage war against terrorist groups, the continued territorial gains by ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and deteriorating situation in Iraq have given the debate new urgency on Capitol Hill. The administration announced Monday they would dispatch up to 275 U.S. troops to protect the U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

“A new war has started and if people want to go be involved in a new war, the job of Congress is to vote on it,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday. “I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later.”

“I think the president has essentially admitted the Iraq AUMF has functionally expired,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who along with Paul is part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have pushed to reign in the administration’s authority under the 2001 Authorized Use of Military Force resolution. “I think we have over a dozen AUMFs on the books and we need a comprehensive look at which are functional and which are obsolete. The Iraq AUMF is functionally obsolete.”

“If he’s looking for a longer-term military engagement I don’t think he can do that under the Iraq AUMF … he’s got to come back to Congress,” Murphy added.

In many ways, this entire discussion is remnisicent of one that was being had in Washington nearly one year ago about Syria. Back then, the Administration was beginning to make noises that the President was considering the use of military force against the Assad regime over its use of chemical weapons against civilians and rebels in that country’s still ongoing civil war. Polling at the time indicated both that the American public was opposed to the idea of military strikes and that it believed that the President should seek Congressional authority before he took any action. At the time, I argued that Congress most assuredly needed to weigh in on the issue of attacking Syria, but given the President’s previous actions in Libya and elsewhere I doubted that he would actually take that step. However, in response no doubt to both public opinion and the outcry from Congress itself, the President announced in August that he would ask Congress for authority to strike Syria. As the month wore on, though, it became clear that the proposal lacked sufficient votes in both the House and the Senate and, in the end, no votes occurred thanks to a deal brokered with Russia and the Syrians that resulted in Syria agreeing to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile.

The arguments in favor of the President deferring to Congress with regard to a possible attack on Iraq today are the same as the ones that were made in favor of deferring to Congress on a possible attack on Syria a year ago. Now, as then, the possibility is being floated that the President will unleash military strikes against targets in a foreign country based on events that, at the very least, do not constitute a direct attack against the United States or its interests. Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons was, after all, just another event in a civil war that was already long and brutal a year ago, and it ended up killing a small number of people compared to the over 100,000 who have been killed in that war according to most international estimates. Similarly, the military success of ISIS/ISIL has achieved is not a direct attack on the United States and, to the extent that American lives are in danger, there is still plenty of times to evacuate American personnel safely should the need arise. As noted above, the AUMF that authorized the Iraq War in 2002 could not be used to justify action against a totally different adversary more than a decade later without straining the bounds of credulity. The same applies to the AUMF that authorized action against al Qaeda that was passed in 2001. While that particular resolution has been used to justify force far beyond Afghanistan, the fact that any connection between ISIS/ISIL and al Qaeda is theoretical at best at this point means that you simply could not make the argument credibly.

Obviously, the President could decide to act on his own as he did in Libya, but there are several reasons why I think this would be a bad move on his part .First of all, while we have yet to see any polling on public attitudes toward potential military action in Iraq, there’s more than enough polling evidence out there to indicate that at the very least the public would be skeptical about such an attack, and probably overwhelmingly against the idea. Taking such action on his own in the face of strong public opposition would be a tremendous political risk, so it would be in the President’s own interests to try to get Congress on board with the idea of an attack if that’s the course of action he chose to take. In hindsight, this is probably the reason why he decided to seek Congressional approval for an attack on Syria last year. He would do well to listen to those instincts again, because a unilateral attack on Iraq given our recent history with that country would most likely be viewed very negatively by the public, especially in light of the President’s already low job approval numbers.

The political argument for going to Congress in this case is made stronger by President Obama’s own past statements on the issue of Presidential authority to go to war. For example, when he was still just Senator Obama and starting out on what would become a successful run for President, Barack Obama had this to say:

2. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

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.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.” The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Elsewhere during that campaign, Obama  also said that the American people have a right to know the basis for military action before it occurs, and Vice President Biden once even suggested that taking military action without Congressional approval could be grounds for impeachment.  Given all of this, the President would at the very least by hypocritical if he didn’t seek Congressional approval should he decide to weigh in against ISIS/ISIL in Iraq. For those reasons, and most importantly because the Constitution requires it, though, Congress must insist that he seek such approval.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Donald Sensing says:

    I do not think Obama would need Congressional authority to conduct NEO operations whether they involved fighting or not, nor to take military action to protect American lives or embassy property.

    Bill Clinton successfully argued that his extended 1998 bombing campaign against Iraq was already justified under the 1991 Congressional authorization that GHW Bush got to mount Desert Shield/Storm. As you know, I blasted Obama pretty hard for his monarchical Libya campaign, but I would probably be at least sympathetic that Obama could argue that offensive action against ISIS is authorized under the AUMF passed by Congress in Oct. 2002 regarding Iraq. (But I did not re-read it before posting this, either.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  2. wr says:

    So just to get this straight — the Republicans who are demanding that Obama crawl to them for a permission slip before he acts are the same ones who are demanding that he re-invade Iraq NOW NOW NOW!!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

  3. Cletus says:

    Obama doesn’t care about polls as a 2 term president and will take unilateral action if he chooses. There’s no way the GOP will sign off on force and he’ll see a mixed bag of support from Dems if he seeks congressional approval. His relationship with Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence chairwoman is also frosty at best .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    President Obama Must Not Act In Iraq Without Congressional Authorization

    FTFY….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @C. Clavin:The thought I always have at times like this that US intervention the last few decades has made things worse not better. Look no further than Iraq!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Well, there’s action and there’s action. I think the president has the authority, for example, to order the military to assist in the evacuation of American citizens without requesting Congressional authorization in advance or even notifying the Congress. And then, of course, if the soldiers assisting in the evacuation happened to be fired upon…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  7. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    If Congress has real concerns, repeal the outdated and clearly destructive AMUF, along with the Patriot Act, if you want to curb executive abuses. Not this nor any future President will hand back these powers of their own accord.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  8. Scott says:

    Not only should the President ask Congress (mainly because they may say no which I suspect he wants as an answer) but also demand the funds to pay for it (because as Republicans keep reminding us, we’re broke). Preferably by closing corporate tax loop holes (because who are we fighting for anyway?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  9. beth says:

    From all news reports, the President will meet with the top four Congressional leaders tomorrow so I guess we’ll get a feel for what the spin from both sides will be. If he’s sending in troops to merely protect the embassy and American citizens, I’m not sure as Commander in Chief he really needs Congressional approval nor will he get much pushback from either side.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. Grewgills says:

    He shouldn’t act at all in Iraq without at the very least firm commitments from Maliki and hopefully some concessions from Iran for the help they clearly want us to give. Even then I am skeptical, but that is a minimum bar.
    The AUMF as it has been used previously gives him as much cover as it gave Clinton and Bush, so calls of lawlessness are ridiculous. Calls of hypocrisy less so, but that doesn’t matter in the legal context.
    @James in Silverdale, WA: has it right about what congress should do. If they don’t want Obama using the AUMF to authorize military action then repeal it. If they aren’t willing to do that, then they aren’t serious and are just spouting off for political advantage in the mid terms.

    I am waiting for the usual suspects that have been demanding immediate military action in Iraq to turn their inevitable 180 now that Obama seems like he wants to go forward.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. Grewgills says:

    @beth:

    nor will he get much pushback from either side

    If only that were true. Whatever he does will get pushback, count on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. beth says:

    @Grewgills: You would think a President using troops to protect Americans in a war zone would be a no brainer but after the last 6 years, nothing surprises me anymore about the Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  13. Tillman says:

    If he starts engaging unilaterally, vote to cut off his funding or repeal past funding. Make it illegal to pay for the war.

    If he goes ahead anyway and his administration backs him despite the law, impeach him.

    Jesus, this is so easy. It’s too bad Congress has no backbone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    We’re talking about Obama here, who went into Libya without consulting Congress (BUT had the time to confer with NATO) and threatened to start bombing in Syria without authorization. Why the hell would he bother with following the law now?

    And don’t even start with impeachment. He’d see the House even introducing Articles of Impeachment as a political positive… and he’d be right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  15. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    I’m still waiting on your response on how the Syria situation could have been handled in a way that would have given a better outcome.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  16. rachel says:

    Wait… OK, leaving aside the possible airstrikes, which I think would be a very bad idea.

    1.If Obama didn’t send troops to support and secure for U.S. interests (like the embassy), and…

    2. If ISIS were able to murder State Department personel because those troops weren’t there to protect them…

    3. Would Obama be to blame for the situation like he supposedly should be for what happened in Benghazi?

    I would like to ask Senator Paul that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Am I the only one who remembers the War Powers Resolution? You know, the LAW that requires

    “the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.”

    Or does that law only apply to Republican Presidents? With Dems you put the cart before the horse? In other words, in a discussion of CIC powers, HOW IN THE “F” DO YOU TOTALLY COMPLETELY IGNORE THE MOST PERTINENT LAW ENTIRELY???? WTF????

    And for the record? I want us to stay out of it. For ever. Let Dick Cheney, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and their “no blood brothers” go over there and fight for the Iraq of their dreams.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  18. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Am I the only one who remembers the War Powers Resolution?

    You mean the single most ignored piece of legislation ever enacted in the entire history of our nation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Every president, from Ford to Bush, at least acknowledged it existed and acted “congruent to” it, without ever acknowledging its authority by saying they were acting “in compliance with it.” Clinton outright lied about its contents, but he acknowledged its existence.

    Obama simply said that it didn’t apply because he didn’t call what he ordered in Libya as “war.”

    And let me spell it out: Obama has not only the right to order US troops to defend Americans and American territory (like our embassy), but the obligation. Should he try to take an active role in the actual fighting, then he’s gone too far.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 7

  20. anjin-san says:

    Interesting how people who were A OK with torture as a policy under Bush are now desperately concerned about the President sticking to the letter of the law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  21. Ron Beasley says:

    Keep in mind the original Iraq war authorization was open ended and is still in effect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  22. Mike says:

    Congress has the purse strings. They can stop him anytime with strict “no funding” language or they can repeal the AUMF. But these would take backbone and Congress would rather get their one liners and sound bites in.
    Pretty sure the pres is on firm constitutional footing on safeguarding Americans in Iraq with Rescue ops though

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Interesting how people who were A OK with torture as a policy under Bush are now desperately concerned about the President sticking to the letter of the law.

    Almost as interesting as how many people simply can’t offer an opinion on something without blubbering “but… BUSH!!!!!!!”

    It’s as if they’re more interested in attacking the people on the other side instead of the topic at hand, and they’re so insecure about defending Obama that they have to try to change the topic to something they think they can win more easily…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  24. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ron Beasley: That, sir, is an excellent point. Enough that I’m going to go look at the text of the AUMF, and see if I can find any loopholes…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  25. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I acknowledge the existence of the “Speed Limit 55″ signs on the Capital Beltway, but I do 70 just like everyone else. Presidents have the same relationship with the War Powers Act.

    Obama has not only the right to order US troops to defend Americans and American territory (like our embassy), but the obligation. Should he try to take an active role in the actual fighting, then he’s gone too far.

    I agree, he certainly doesn’t have to ask Congress for authority to evacuate anyone from the embassy in Baghdad. Airstrikes or other direct intervention would be, as you say, a step too far.

    I just think if he decides airstrikes are the way to go, he’ll do them regardless of what Congress says, just like the others did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  26. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    It’s hardly a surprise that the importance of historical context eludes you, and that you would not want to discuss the Bush presidency.

    As for staying on topic, that’s a good one coming from you. And attacking the people on the other side? That’s the only reason you get up in the morning.

    BTW, how long are you going to hide from the Benghazi thread?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ron Beasley: OK, the AUMF listed 12 reasons for authorizing military action against Iraq. Most of them were centered around Saddam and his government, but not all of them:

    1. Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 ceasefire agreement, including interference with U.N. weapons inspectors.

    2. Iraq “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability” and “actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability” posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”

    3. Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population.”

    4. Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people”.

    5. Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the 1993 assassination attempt on former President George H. W. Bush and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.

    6. Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.

    7. Iraq’s “continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,” including anti-United States terrorist organizations.

    8. Iraq paid bounty to families of suicide bombers.

    9. The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, and those who aided or harbored them.

    10. The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.

    11. The governments in Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia feared Saddam and wanted him removed from power.

    12. Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.

    So, it looks like if Obama wanted to push it, he could cite reasons 3, 6, 7, 9, and 10.

    Raises some interesting possibilities, doesn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. An Interested Party says:

    And don’t even start with impeachment. He’d see the House even introducing Articles of Impeachment as a political positive… and he’d be right.

    Republicans only have themselves to blame for that…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: It’s hardly a surprise that the importance of historical context eludes you, and that you would not want to discuss the Bush presidency.

    The question is, “what should Obama do?” You don’t seem to have any opinion on that, and instead want to start yet another round of “is Bush the worst president EVAR, or the worst human being EVAR?” We had 8 years to kick that around, and it became moot in discussions of current events about 5.5 years ago.

    So, if you don’t want to offer your own opinion, might I offer one on your behalf?

    BTW, how long are you going to hide from the Benghazi thread?

    “Hide?” I don’t recall ever promising to comment on every single thread, but I think I’ll stroll through it in the morning. Or not. I expect Cliffy’s having his usual rounds of giggling over the deaths of 4 Americans, so I don’t feel like wading through that before going to bed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  30. bill says:
  31. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    You don’t seem to have any opinion on that

    Sure I do, and I’ve already made it known. We screwed that pooch back in ’03. There is no way to unscrew it. We have to live with the wreckage, and the people of Iraq have to live in the wreckage, which is rather worse.

    “Hide?”

    Yes hide. You’ve been posting obsessively about Benghazi for years, and you’ve done many a victory dance over it. Now suddenly you are blasé and quite on the subject, just as you were when George Zimmermann’s post trail antics came to light.

    You may be fooling yourself, but you are not fooling anyone else. Hopefully the clucking noises you are making will not keep the neighbors awake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. anjin-san says:

    Shorter bill – “Blair is trying to cover his ass and shift blame, and I fell for it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. Ron Beasley says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I suspect he will make congress approve a binding resolution for political reasons which they won’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    We’re talking about Obama here, who went into Libya without consulting Congress (BUT had the time to confer with NATO) and threatened to start bombing in Syria without authorization. Why the hell would he bother with following the law now?

    You have made the clear implication that he broke the law in one or both of those cases. That is simply not true. He did not break the law in either of those instances. If he went in to Iraq without congressional approval, he would not be breaking the law. I don’t think he should do it, but it would be legal.
    Maliki will not reach out to the Sunni and only half a hand to the Kurds and he will make no meaningful reforms. As long as he continues on his path I think it would be a mistake to invest much in helping him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  35. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The War Powers Resolution is rather clear. It specifies that “The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” Further, “The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.”

    Of course, as noted upthread, presidents, including Obama, have routinely ignored the law in this regard. But it’s not a blank check to use force for 90 days whenever the president feels like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    You don’t seem to have any opinion on that, and instead want to start yet another round of “is Bush the worst president EVAR, or the worst human being EVAR?”

    You have serious comprehension problems…otherwise you would get the the point isn’t about Bush.
    It’s about you…your team sports attitude, your extreme idiocy, and your staggering hypocrisy.
    Try reading what people type. Just once, numb-skull.

    Interesting how people who were A OK with torture as a policy under Bush are now desperately concerned about the President sticking to the letter of the law.

    That sentence isn’t about Bush…it’s about you.
    What a fool.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  37. Rob in CT says:

    I agree that military action should be approved by Congress. Not only would it satisfy the WPR, it’s smart politics. If Congress gives the ok, there’s a certain amount of cover for the Admin. The GOP got a lot of mileage out of Dem votes for the AUMF when Iraq!, The Sequel turned into the clusterf*ck the DFHs knew it would. So it’s the right thing to do, plus it’s the smart thing to do (well, the smart thing to do except for the part where I don’t think it’s smart to go back in at all).

    There’s a lot of screetching on the Right concerning Iraq right now. Lots of chest-beating about going back in. I wonder if all that would turn on a dime the second Obama asked for authorization. Tthis issue is, of course, secondary. But I’d like to find out the answer, so it’s another good reason to do what should be done anyway.

    In order of preference:

    1) No US military involvement.
    2) Ask Congress for authorization to send forces.
    3) POTUS orders minimal involvement w/o Congress
    4) POTUS orders more than minimal involvement w/o Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. Robin Cohen says:

    @C. Clavin: Have we learned nothing about the futility of war in the Middle Eat? If we re-engage in a war in Iraq just to silence our critics we will have learned nothing. Life is cheap to the Iraqis. America, thank God, thinks differently. We do not need and cannot afford another Middle East quagmire. Obama is a dunce when it comes to war. He still doesn’t acknowledge his failure to accomplish anything of value in Iraq or Afghanistan and the fact that our ill conceived attempts at regime change were doomed to failure simply because of the innate tribal culture of both countries, their corrupt governments and the cowardice of soldiers who stop fighting when American soldiers arrive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  39. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san:

    1) I was specifically referring to Obama’s threats to attack Syria, and your opinion on that. I see you once again said that the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to blame Bush, and only once everyone agrees with you will you even consider getting down to particulars. If I’m incorrect there, please correct me.

    2) I think I’ll stay away from the Benghazi thread. It might have escaped your notice, but I’ve largely avoided that topic around here once I realized that its main purpose was to send Cliffy to his sticky-fingered happy place, and I didn’t need that visual. You might get your jollies supplying him with more hand lotion, but I’ll pass.

    Instead, I’ll simply congratulate the Obama administration for only taking 21 months to catch a guy who’s been living openly in Benghazi all this time, giving press interviews; hope that he’s being held without access to YouTube, so to prevent future atrocities; and wonder who we’ll trade him for in the future.

    My interest in Zimmerman was mainly in noticing how much time and effort was being expended in railroading him. And weren’t you “quite” on the subject once the trial began and all those lies and falsehoods you’d invested in so heavily and parroted endlessly started falling apart? He went back to being a nobody after the verdict, but you had to keep following him so you could prove (mainly to yourself, I suspect) that he was really as horrible a person as you had convinced yourself he was, and just HAD to justify your hatred.

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  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: You have made the clear implication that he broke the law in one or both of those cases. That is simply not true. He did not break the law in either of those instances.

    Please explain how Obama’s conduct of his Libyan campaign was in any way “congruent” with the War Powers Act. He had time to notify and consult with NATO, but not the US Congress. And his first official report to Congress on the campaign was well after 90 days, when the law specifies that 1) he must report to Congress within 60 days and 2) end it within 90 days if Congress doesn’t specifically approve it.

    And that experience emboldened him when he threatened Syria, because he’d already shown that he didn’t consider himself constrained by the War Powers Act.

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  41. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    You do realize that Bush started this war of choice…right? You do realize that it is the single greatest foreign policy blunder in our history…right?
    I realize you are a delusional person…but even you should be able to acknowledge basic facts.
    I know that the cult faithful have trouble coming to grips with the failures of the cult.
    But that doesn’t change facts.

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  42. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @C. Clavin: You do realize… nah, forget it. You don’t realize anything. You don’t even realize that “Bush’s fault!” isn’t an answer to “what should Obama do NOW,” but a really lame attempt to hide that Obama has no clue what he’s doing.

    There may be no good options in Iraq now. I’m starting to think that might be the case. But to sit with your thumb up your ass and refuse to even talk about what to do now until EVERYONE all agrees that BUSH WAS THE WORST PRESIDENT EVAR and you’ll KEEP SHOUTING AT EVERYONE WHO WON’T AGREE WITH YOU and not do anything else until THEY CONFESS THEIR HORRIBLE SINS is… well, I was going to say “immature and dishonest,” but “profoundly Cliffy-like” seems a better fit.

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  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    I think I’ll stay away from the Benghazi thread.

    And the tale of Brave Sir Jenos continues.

    Based on your above comment, you are in a very strange place even for you. Why not do everyone a favor and stay away from all the threads?

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  44. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    But back on topic: on further reflection, Obama possibly could act in Iraq without consulting Congress by citing the AUMF, but the political fallout of Obama relying on a law that he has repeatedly criticized and lambasted and denounced could be severe.

    Oh, who the hell am I kidding? The lickspittles here would falling all over each other in glee, delighted that Obama was using a law that his opponents had supported to do what they say he shouldn’t do. It’d be all “so, it was fine when Bush used the AUMF to do THE WORST THING EVAR IN ALL OF HISTORY,” but when Obama uses it to CLEAN UP BUSH’S MESS, it’s RAAAAACISM!!!!!!”

    But as I noted above, there are plausible grounds in the still-standing-law that Obama could use to justify acting in Iraq without Congressional consent. I don’t think it would be wise or effective, but it is arguably legal.

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  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @anjin-san: Based on your above comment, you are in a very strange place even for you. Why not do everyone a favor and stay away from all the threads?

    (bats eyes coquettishly) Because I’d miss you, then, silly…

    But can you actually say that Cliffy isn’t spewing all over that thread? I really haven’t looked at the comments, but I’d guess that Cliffy has at least 5 comments, at least 3 of them mentioning me, and at least 3 more mentioning me as well.

    Someday when I have a bit of morbid curiosity, I might check that thread. Sometime when I need a good emetic.

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  46. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    There may be no good options in Iraq now.

    There never were any good options for Iraq you fool…outside of leaving Saddam in charge.
    There was never a good reason to send 4000 troops to their death and spend upwards of $2T. There was never a good reason to strengthen Iran’s hand in the region.
    Bush chose this folly for no good reason.
    And now you want to blame Obama for a colossal f’up that happened back in 2003…and in the process absolve your team of any and all responsibility for that colossal f’up.
    Hey…we screwed the pooch…but it’s on you now.
    That’s pretty f’ing cowardly…which is why it’s your position.

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  47. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    As always…you are dead wrong.

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  48. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    It’s the same with the economy…

    Sure…we engineered the biggest crash since the Depression including a 9% contraction of GDP in a single quarter and a job market shedding 700,000 people a month…but hey…it’s your problem now. Don’t look at us.

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  49. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Instead, I’ll simply congratulate the Obama administration for only taking 21 months to catch a guy who’s been living openly in Benghazi all this time,”

    Say, what have you accomplished in the last 21 months?

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  50. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “He went back to being a nobody after the verdict, but you had to keep following him so you could prove (mainly to yourself, I suspect) that he was really as horrible a person as you had convinced yourself he was, and just HAD to justify your hatred.”

    Sure. Only now he was a nobody who had murdered an innocent kid and gotten away with it, as you continue to cheer him on.

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  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: Sure. Only now he was a nobody who had murdered an innocent kid and gotten away with it, as you continue to cheer him on.

    12 jurors that heard all the evidence that you refused to hear disagreed with you. “Murder” is a very specific legal term, and your use of it here is a lie.

    It’d be an actionable lie, but Zimmerman is a public figure, so the standard is higher.

    And have you run out of excuses to not talk about what Obama could do or should do, or do you have more?

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  52. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This just in: President Obama has announced that he will not take any action on the growing chaos in Iraq until EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN agrees that this is ALL BUSH’S FAULT and Obama was handed AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION. Once EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN agrees and publicly declares EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE IS BUSH’S FAULT, then we will have peace and love all over the world.

    Obama specifically credits the commentariat at OTB for his new foreign policy initiative.

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  53. rachel says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: It’s ironic that you should write this since I had not noticed this sort of passive-aggressiveness in Obama’s behavior.

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  54. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    As per usual…your interpretation of Obama’s policies and actions are blithely un-tethered from reality.

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  55. C. Clavin says:

    Ok, Ok, Ok…we all know poor Jenos is intellectually disadvantaged and really nothing more than a cheerleader for anything Republicans do and against anything Obama does. It’s entertaining to taunt him and spur on his fever-swamp rants.
    But here’s the guy that actually committed the GREATEST FOREIGN POLICY BLUNDER in our history…blaming Obama for the inevitable results in the WSJ:

    When Mr. Obama and his team came into office in 2009, al Qaeda in Iraq had been largely defeated, thanks primarily to the heroic efforts of U.S. armed forces during the surge. Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace. Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/dick-cheney-and-liz-cheney-the-collapsing-obama-doctrine-1403046522
    It is sad, but predictable, that Dick Cheney would be reduced to taking talking points from a circus-clown like Jenos.

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  56. Grewgills says:

    @Rob in CT:

    There’s a lot of screetching on the Right concerning Iraq right now. Lots of chest-beating about going back in. I wonder if all that would turn on a dime the second Obama asked for authorization.

    It almost certainly would, which is a good thing since I would prefer we stay out of it.

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  57. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Oh, who the hell am I kidding? The lickspittles here would falling all over each other in glee, delighted that Obama was using a law that his opponents had supported to do what they say he shouldn’t do. It’d be all “so, it was fine when Bush used the AUMF

    You mistake you being called out for hypocrisy and using every event to score political points for actual support of what Obama is doing. If he does end up involving us much more deeply in the Iraqi civil war I will not support his actions (unless something major changes), but I will also call out those who act like it is somehow an unprecedented usurpation of power or that it is blatantly illegal particularly if it is from cheerleaders of the previous administration.

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  58. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    But as I noted above, there are plausible grounds in the still-standing-law that Obama could use to justify acting in Iraq without Congressional consent. I don’t think it would be wise or effective, but it is arguably legal.

    Wow, we agree on something.

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  59. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “12 jurors that heard all the evidence that you refused to hear disagreed with you. ”

    12 jurors heard all the evidence against OJ, too. Will you go to the mat fighting for his innocence?

    And I find it hilarious, after you spend multiple messages explaining how you never really cared about Zimmerman, to find that you are so outraged at my calumny you’d mourn the fact he can’t sue me for libel for saying what everyone in America who isn’t a racist gun nut already knows — that he murdered that kid, that he got off scott free, and that he celebrated in the manliest way he could, by beating up his wife and threatening her with a gun.

    Your hero.

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  60. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @wr: And I find it hilarious, after you spend multiple messages explaining how you never really cared about Zimmerman, to find that you are so outraged at my calumny you’d mourn the fact he can’t sue me for libel for saying what everyone in America who isn’t a racist gun nut already knows — that he murdered that kid, that he got off scott free, and that he celebrated in the manliest way he could, by beating up his wife and threatening her with a gun.

    Let’s see, that’s one very long, run-on sentence. And how many lies? One, two, three, four, five. And that’s just one one skimming.

    Since I’m not interested in having a reasonable discussion with you (and you’re constitutionally incapable of providing one), I’ll just elaborate on one: Zimmerman COULD sue you for libel, if he so chose. You have a couple of defenses available to you that would likely have you prevail, but “it’s the truth” is not among them.

    But what an admission you just made. You delight in the fact that you say things that you know are lies about Zimmerman without fear of legal reprisal. You aren’t the least bit ashamed of lying in and of itself, but instead proud of it. Just what does that say about your character?

    Here’s a hint: it doesn’t reveal anything about you that hasn’t been blatantly obvious for a very long time, but I think this is the first time you’ve admitted it.

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