Sunday, January 7, 2007

Then Don't Micromanage, Set A Goal

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) said this today about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's proposal to instruct President Bush that he only has 150,000 troops to play with in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Sen. Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it would be a "tragic mistake" if Bush chooses to increase troops. But Biden, D-Del., said cutting off funds was not an option.

"As a practical matter there is no way to say this is going to be stopped," Biden said regarding a troop increase, unless enough congressional Republicans join Democrats in convincing Bush the strategy is wrong.

Biden added that it probably would be an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers if Democrats were to block Bush's efforts as commander in chief after Congress had voted to authorize going to war.

"It's unconstitutional to say, you can go, but we're going to micromanage," Biden said.

Pelosi Hints at Denying Bush Iraq Funds

OK, then set a goal for Bush to meet. You can do that, Senator Biden. Tell the President we're getting out of Iraq in a short time, and tell him to come up with a plan for doing it. Impeach him if he doesn't.

Of course, Biden will find an excuse not to do this, too. But there's no reason he can't besides lacking the will. Congress has the power to declare war. It can certainly undeclare it if it wants. It's time to bring the troops out of Iraq, and if Biden doesn't get that he can forget about being President. He doesn't have what it takes.

(h/t Swopa at Firedoglake)


op99 said...

From the AUMF:

Section 2 - Authorization For Use of United States Armed Forces
(a) IN GENERAL- 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.

Lotsa wiggle room in those bolded words. That sucker (AUMF) needs to be nullified somehow before the Congress has a leg to stand on.

Cujo359 said...

Lotsa wiggle room in those bolded words.

I agree. Some folks warned at the time that giving the President as much latitude as the AUMF did could be a problem. As with many other prudent warnings about what we were doing, they were ignored. It legitimized the whole idea of "preventive war" as a national policy, which to me is crazy for a number of reasons.

Congress can rescind the AUMF. It's within their power. Whatever they do will have to withstand a veto, of course, so that would be where I hope they can make bipartisanship work. There are certainly Republicans who are concerned about the path we're going down. Not many, I think, but maybe there are enough.

Chris Vosburg said...

You're reading the wrong AUMF, I think. Lemme splain, and apologies for length:

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, written when the "mission creep" of Vietnam was still fresh in the minds of Congress, the President is compelled to consult with Congress whenever he feels the itch to bomb something. To wit:

"SEC. 3. 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."

The purpose of this consultation is to secure the polite-sounding "authorization to use military force," without which he cannot bomb anyone, poor dear.

The AUMF op99 refers to was issued by Congress in late September of 2001, and the language in Section 2(a), which op99 quotes here, is extraordinarily broad, citing neither a specific objective, scope or duration for such authorization.

Nevertheless, Section 2(b)(1), immediately following the above, plows ahead, blithely stating:

"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."

So he can do whatever he wants, right?

Wrong, because of the section immediately following those quoted:

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

--a ha! which takes us back to Section 3 of the War Powers Act and its requirement that "The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities..."

Thus, in order to invade Iraq, a case had to be made to Congress and another specific authorization secured from that body, which he got in late 2002, after much mendacity.

This is the relevant AUMF to our troopsinIraqwhoareinharm'sway (as the Republicans like to say), and no other.

And this AUMF is quite specific about scope and objectives:


"(a) Authorization.--The President is authorized 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."

These objectives-- such as they were-- were clearly met years ago when the regime of Saddam Hussein was deposed, and it is therefore the case that the President's continued deployment of American troops in Iraq is well outside the scope of that authorization.

In other words, unauthorized. And let's don't even talk about escalation.

Happily, the War Powers Act provides a simple remedy for crazy Presidents and the war they rode in on:

"Section 5(c): Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution."

Come on, Congress, do your damn job and shut this monstrosity down.

Cujo359 said...

You're right, Chris V, I'm confusing the two at times, as are a lot of folks, I suspect. Thanks for the rundown.

Congress certainly lost its mind in Sept., 2001. This and the "Patriot" Act were both the result of that panic. I really wish they'd regain that mind again and repeal both acts, but it's not likely to happen. It would also be nice, as Gov. Richardson suggested today, if they'd repeal the Iraq-specific AUMF explicitly. It certainly looks as if its objectives have been met anyway, but apparently they didn't put a "what happens after" clause in there that was definitive enough.

Chris Vosburg said...

I must have made my point badly, because what I'm trying to convey here is that the goal was set in the Iraq authorization. The goal having been met, the authorization is expired, period. No repeal necessary.

The authorization was specific, as required by the War Powers Act, and essentially said that Dubya could invade Iraq in pursuit of two, and only two, objectives. He got 'em. He's done.

Any other objective-- creating a democratic government, rebuilding infrastructure, plundering oil reserves, fighting the terrorists there so we don't have to here, blah blah-- is not authorized, and only one thing is lacking in the Congress to make the President knock this shit off. Here's a hint for Congress, from a friend of Dorothy Gale:

"What makes a King out of a slave? What makes the flag on the mast to wave? What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? What makes the Sphinx the Seventh Wonder? What makes the dawn come up like thunder? What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the ape in ape-ricot? What have they got that I ain't got?"


You can say that again.