SECDEF seems a little unclear on Congress’s power to declare war…

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…

Andrew McCarthy of NRO has quite a bit to say about it.

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.

5 thoughts on “SECDEF seems a little unclear on Congress’s power to declare war…”

  1. But there’s nothing wrong it because its the “GOOD” people who are doing this.

    Why do we bother with a constitution if we’re just going to become as fracked up at the British?

  2. Bill,

    The problem with this is this, many people use The US Constitution when ever it suits them, but not as a basic core value. You can take the Legislature and the Executive Branches of our Federal Government and watch them fight with each other, over these “War Powers Issues”.

    The US Constitution places the power to “Declare War” with Congress. I believe, history will look favorably when there is a “Congressional Declaration of War.” When this nation gets into arguments, not debate, over these “War Powers Issues”, it takes away, on so many levels, from the troops who are going to actually fight this war. I am neither anti-war nor pro-war. But I do believe the American people have a right to know the reasons why we’re going to war. If we are going to war, then the people of this nation should be ready to sacrifice, not just the troops and their families. I believe that personal politics should be put aside. The American people should never be given, “Well–Cooked Evidence” as a reason. The National Security Act of 1947 actually separates parts of the Executive Branch, where the politicians are actually forbidden to go. Yes, they are required to report back to the Executive Branch. For example, the CIA has a series of documents which are called, The National Intelligence Estimate. This is an “Intelligence Document” with absolutely no political input. Then, this same document is transferred to the Executive Branch. But, as soon as the document is transferred, it changes from being an “Intelligence Document” to a “Policy Document”. But, after this transfer occurs, the people from the “Intelligence Community” are no longer involved with it.

    This is just one example among many.

    Bill, about your comment on the American people being “fracked–up”, I thought this was the norm. In fact, FUBAR is even more accurate. I knew an old man, who just heard a man say something about having a “wild hair in his tail”. The old man said to me, “Grumpy, I can’t figure it out, is he bragging or complaining? You were in the military, how long has it been since you could feel a wild hair?”

  3. The constitution is something both sides refer to when it is convenient to use in opposing the other side. Other than that, they use the Constitution like normal people use toilet paper. Frankly, politicians have grown increasingly lawless since the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

    OTOH, Panetta is just a leftist hack. That’s what he was in Congress. In the Slick Willie maladminstration, and now. That will never change.

    1. Sure he’s a hack. And I posted words to that effect when he was nominated. And this is some pretty awful tapdancing.
      Having said that, we knew the DoD was in for a bloodletting, and so far, he’s done a fair to middlin’ job of trying to staunch the flow.

      I’m not the least blind to Obama’s disdain for spending on the military, but much of the budget woes of the services are their own damn fault, and not of DoD or the Administration, or the Congress, at least on the procurement side.

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