So, in regards to the question of what to do about Syria, SECDEF Leon Panetta testified before the Senate yesterday. It was not the most intellectually rigorous emanation from his piehole evah…
1. Secretary Panetta disingenuously conflates two different principles in dodging Sen. Jeff Sessions’ questions.
Principle I: No one disputes that the president may act without congressional approval when the national security of the United States is truly threatened — I think even Ron Paul agrees that if our nation is attacked or is in imminent danger of being attacked, the president is obliged to use whatever force is necessary to overcome our enemies and protect our interests.
Principle II: No one disputes that, if U.S. interests are so gravely threatened that the use of force is justified, and there is time to assemble a coalition of nations whose interests are similarly threatened, it makes sense to seek the endorsement of relevant international tribunals.
Panetta, however, mashes these two principles together and comes up with something that everyone should dispute: Namely, that anytime a president decides to use force, regardless of whether the national security of the United States is actually threatened, he just needs to get the approval of an international tribunal — with no need for congressional authorization, notwithstanding that Congress (our representatives on our behalf) would be expected to pay for the whole thing (with our money).
Watching the SECDEF, who, by the by, has ALSO sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, tapdance around a direct answer in an attempt to deny the Congress it’s clearly defined role in matters of war and peace is disturbing. I get that, to a certain extent, even the SECDEF is just a mouthpiece for the President, and has to uphold the party line. But the repeated pattern of executive overreach by this administration is astonishing. For all the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments during the previous administration, at least President Bush explicitly asked the Congress for an authorization for the use of military force.
Shame on Mr. Panetta.