Jan 23

War Is Peace

Mitch McConnell Moves To Grant The President Unlimited War Powers With No Expiration Date:

The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

– From George Orwell’s, 1984

This morning, I came across an extremely important story with tremendous long-term negative implications for freedom in these United States. It relates to the fact that the always shady Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving to fast track an Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) for the President that would allow for unrestricted warfare against ISIS. There would be no time or geographic restrictions on this authorization. Rather than being a favor to President Obama, this is primarily a means to ensure that whoever takes control in 2017 receives a blank check for unrestrained militarism with no expiration date. This is terrifying.

Before I get into the issue at hand, some background is necessary. Many legal scholars, and indeed, even many members of Congress have admitted that Obama’s war against ISIS is illegal and unconstitutional. One of the best articles I’ve read on why this is the case, was published in the New York Times in 2014, which I covered in the post, Obama’s ISIS War is Not Only Illegal, it Makes George W. Bush Look Like a Constitutional Scholar. Here are a few excerpts:

President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written.

This became clear when White House officials briefed reporters before Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation on Wednesday evening. They said a war against ISIS was justified by Congress’s authorization of force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that no new approval was needed.

But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks.

Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate.

Mr. Obama may rightly be frustrated by gridlock in Washington, but his assault on the rule of law is a devastating setback for our constitutional order. His refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing.

It’s been almost two years since that Op-ed was written, and Obama is still carrying out his illegal war on ISIS with barely a peep from our incredibly corrupt and useless Congress. Indeed, the only thing Congress is scheming to do is to ensure the next President receives a blank check for perpetual war.

From the National Journal:

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell offered mem­bers a snow-week­end sur­prise late Wed­nes­day night: Quietly tee­ing up a po­ten­tial de­bate on the leg­al un­der­pin­ning for the fight against IS­IS.

After months of wor­ry­ing that such a res­ol­u­tion—known as an au­thor­iz­a­tion for the use of mil­it­ary force—would tie the next pres­id­ent’s hands, Mc­Con­nell’s move to fast-track the meas­ure sur­prised even his top deputy, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip John Cornyn, who was un­aware that Mc­Con­nell had set up the au­thor­iz­a­tion.

The AUMF put for­ward by Mc­Con­nell would not re­strict the pres­id­ent’s use of ground troops, nor have any lim­its re­lated to time or geo­graphy. Nor would it touch on the is­sue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has used to at­tack IS­IS des­pite that au­thor­iz­a­tion’s in­struc­tions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. By con­trast, the leg­al au­thor­ity put for­ward by the ad­min­is­tra­tion last Feb­ru­ary wouldn’t au­thor­ize “en­dur­ing of­fens­ive ground com­bat op­er­a­tions” and would have ended three years after en­act­ment, un­less reau­thor­ized.

Read that over and over and over until you get how incredibly dangerous it is.

Don Stew­art, Mc­Con­nell’s spokes­man, said Thursday in an email that the new AUMF “is not the one the [p]res­id­ent asked for” and “not one that would tie the [p]res­id­ent’s hands.”

Exactly. It’s not the one the President asked for, it’s far more aggressive and dangerous.

Stew­art ad­ded that the pro­cess Mc­Con­nell used to set up the AUMF, known as “Rule XIV,” merely sets up the au­thor­iz­a­tion for a fu­ture vote, but does not put it on the cal­en­dar—mean­ing a vote could come at any time, or not at all. The res­ol­u­tion already has four Re­pub­lic­an co­spon­sors: Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, Daniel Coats, Joni Ernst, and Or­rin Hatch.

If war monger Lindsey Graham is a co-sponsor you know for sure it’s an unmitigated disaster for liberty.

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Bob Cork­er said that there is still a “wide di­versity” of opin­ions on the is­sue. Some Demo­crats were crit­ic­al of even the pres­id­ent’s own draft AUMF, warn­ing that they’d need ad­di­tion­al re­stric­tions from the ad­min­is­tra­tion on troop levels and geo­graph­ic bound­ar­ies be­fore they could sup­port any au­thor­iz­a­tion. Re­pub­lic­ans, mean­while, wor­ried deeply about re­strict­ing the pres­id­ent as this ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the next one, work to com­bat IS­IS.

“This is the right thing,” said Gra­ham, a co­spon­sor on the new AUMF res­ol­u­tion. “This is the right in­fra­struc­ture to have.”

“If our Demo­crat­ic friends don’t want to give this pres­id­ent and oth­er pres­id­ents the abil­ity to go after IS­IS without lim­it­a­tion to geo­graphy, time and means—be on the re­cord,” he added.

Indeed, I’d like to see every member of Congress go on the record as to the issue of perpetual war to fight an enemy created by our government’s own foreign policy and our “allies’” funding and armaments.

Kaine said that al­though he and the vast ma­jor­ity of Con­gress sup­port com­batting IS­IS, he dis­agrees with the ad­min­is­tra­tion that the pres­id­ent is with­in his au­thor­ity to do so. “I be­lieve the war is il­leg­al,” Kaine said Thursday. “I don’t think there’s a leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for it. And I think the greatest danger we end up do­ing is al­low­ing the pres­id­ent to wage a war without Con­gress weigh­ing in.”

Cornyn, who in Decem­ber said that Re­pub­lic­ans would not present an AUMF of their own un­til the pres­id­ent out­lined a strategy, said that he non­ethe­less wel­comed de­bate on the is­sue.

“I don’t think we should be afraid of that de­bate, but we need a co­her­ent strategy from the pres­id­ent which we still don’t have and we also don’t need to tie the hands of the next pres­id­ent by re­strict­ing what the pres­id­ent can do,” Cornyn said.

Sorry, but wasn’t the entire idea of a legislative branch to precisely restrict what the President can do. Congress is purely ceremonial at this point. What an utter embarrassment.

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