It perhaps goes without saying that the Obama Administration considers Congress all but irrelevant to the question of its foreign policy, but speaking today at a House hearing, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it anyway.
Pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R – AL) on the legal basis for a potential war with Syria, Panetta repeatedly referred to seeking an international mandate, saying that the administration’s goal was “international permission” for such a war, and that Congress would be “informed” once that was obtained.
Sessions repeatedly asked for clarification, pointing out that the War Powers Act explicitly requires Congressional authorization for a war, but Panetta would only say, beyond his repeated calls for NATO or UN imprimatur, that there would be discussion in the administration as to “whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress.”
Though the Pentagon later insisted that Panetta was not “ceding US decision-making authority to some foreign body,” Panetta’s comments made it clear how little role the administration believes Congress has in the matter. He repeatedly said the president had the power under the Constitution to act unilaterally to “defend the United States,” though his examples — Syria, Libya, Bosnia — arguably have little to do with the safety of Americans.
This was the administration’s model in the 2011 Libya war. Launched in March, the White House first cited the 60-day grace period granted in the War Powers Act to seek Congressional authorization for the attack, predicting it would be over before then. Some 90 days later, the administration claimed the Act didn’t apply because Libya wasn’t “technically a war.”
The war in Libya was unique in cutting Congress out entirely of a commitment to conflict. Previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rested on at least some Congressional authorization, even if well short of the Constitutionally required declaration of war. Having gotten away with it in Libya, the administration seems content that Congress is a purely optional element in any future war. It seems NATO and the UN hold more authority over the United States’ armed forces; they potentially have additional international troops to offer.
17 thoughts on “Panetta: International Mandate Trumps Congressional Authorization for Wars”
The constitution gives the power to declare war to congress. Unless the secretary has a personal sources of money the power of the purse belongs to congress. I question what kind of secretary would not know the bases of the nation that he has served for so many years. I does support my personal feeling that congressmen and senators are clueless on matters other than raising money to keep their own jobs.
Sorry Mr. Secretary internation agreements have to be approved by the senate and unless approved they do not have more power than local laws and our constitution is superior to everything.
We can solve the matter by staying out of wars of choice for Israel
So Uncle Leon decides that America's Constitution no longer applies? Wow is that staggering or what. Well then we can dispense with Congress altogether. That dismissal alone should save the American taxpayer a mountain of money. Theoretically of course.
Yes, indeed. So if they feel no need to abide by the Constitution then we the citizenry are under no obligation to obey them either. In which case there would be no moral "wrong" in storming DC and hanging the lot of them, would there? Sauce for the goose as it were.
Time to label Panetta for what he is: a . All our "leaders" who subordinate America's power and the needs of her citizens to foreign nationals should be labeled as such, be they subordinating America's economic interests to the WTO or be they subordinating her foreign policy interests to an international group.
The Constitution is dead.
Those are sad words indeed, but true.
…and has been dead since 1865. Which, by the way, is what that particular war was designed to accomplish.
Keep it simple, fire Panetta!
Part of the problem is the cowardice of the congress itself. It should never have rubber-stamped acts like the Tonkin gulf resolution or the 2003 act for Iraq. Demand the president either ask for a formal declaration of war or no military force gets used. Note too how NATO is being used as a screen, or a posse, for America's imperialism.
King George III alone decides when we go to war. If you want any other kind of arrangement you'll have to fight a revolution to get it.
Now that they admit that the government is run for and by foreign interests I guess there's no reason to vote.
When you see what Congress does under the whip of IPAC (sic), and resolutions like the "Iran Threat Reduction Act" pass 100 to zero in the "US Senate", you may as well leave it to the POTUS or any other person (ie foetus or corporation) working for the good of the USA.
Right. If America is going to step outside its borders for permission to invade another country then the rest of the world should get to vote on who gets to be their f%$£ing president.
Sadly, this disgraceful practice was started by Truman.
Their all in bed together …. Corngress and the white house are traitors and godless men …
This depraved exchange here:
First, let me say that the War Powers Act has never done anything but waste a day or two of grandstanding before the bobble-head dolls in congress approve what was already a done deal, anyway. The deeper problem lies between the lines. When, arguably, has the US ever had "international permission" to go to war? We have repeatedly violated international laws and treaties and instead created the puppet international war council, NATO, which proclaims its "approval" of US-led aggression (and may even engage in the killing spree at their pleasure, for having given the nod). But who is NATO anyway? A bunch of rich white guys (original signatories) and some poor slobs they dragged in to fight the rest of the legitimate world when the United Nations – the only legitimate world governing body, but one that the US refuses to recognize as such – doesn't go along with what the US wants. The fools in congress are protesting the possible loss of camera time as they grandstand each other ahead of a foregone conclusion. They should really try to do some work for a change, instead of worrying about their press time.
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