This article is intended to put the fear of God in
every American. The Framers of our Constitution had one overriding concern,
that this new country would replace a despised English king with a new American
one simply with a new title " President.
That is why they used the principle of separation of powers when they wrote our Constitution. One example of this is how our nation goes to war. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but only Congress can declare war, and Congress controls the purse strings of war. Every dime spent on a conflict must be approved by Congress. Never in their wildest dreams did the Framers consider that Congress would willingly renege on the powers given them by the Constitution. For the past decade that is exactly what Congress has been doing.
This all began during the Bush administration, and after years of growing horror I wrote this article: Expanded Presidential "War" Power: a Time-Bomb Threatening Our Democracy. I cannot stress this enough, while these expanded powers of the Presidency began during the Bush era, granted to him by a compliant Congress or usurped by him such as his 1.8 Signing statements , this phenomenon has continued into the Obama administration. Not one of the new powers granted Bush have been diminished by the current administration, confirming my great fear has now come home to roost. In statements written to Congress in 2007 and in several articles urging the impeachment of Bush, I argued, if Bush is not impeached, these new Presidential powers would be inherited by the next President and all succeeding Presidents, and no President will give up those new powers willingly. That is exactly what is happening now.
Obama has taken this even a step further. At least Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for his two wars. Obama did not seek Congressional approval for use of force against Libya. That is consistent with the War Powers Resolution , but there is a time limit, essentially 60 days. That time limit expired May 20th. Our forces are still fighting in Libya, and Obama is still not seeking approval from Congress. Incidentally, that is an impeachable offense because he is breaking U.S. law.
Would that story end here. Unfortunately, it gets much worse, potentially, at least. I am referring to Section 1034 of the House's version of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012? It should scare the pants off you. This is what it says:
Congress affirms that -
(1) the United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;
(2) the President has the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force ( Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note);
(3) the current armed conflict includes nations, organization, and persons who -
(A) are part of, or are substantially supporting, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
(B) have engaged in hostilities or have directly supported hostilities in aid of a nation, organization, or person described in subparagraph (A); and
(4) the President's authority pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority to detain belligerents, including persons described in paragraph (3), until the termination of hostilities.
Incidentally, P.L. 107-40 U.S.C. 1541 note is the Congressional authority for use of force against the Taliban and "associated forces," referring to al-Qaeda. "Associated forces" was expanded by Section 1034 to include any nation or any individual the President deems sympathetic to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. This broad definition would include Pakistan (currently our ally), Iran, and American citizens.
Essentially, Section 1034 of the National Defense Authorizat -ion Act passed by the House will grant the President the power to go to war anytime, anywhere, on anyone--fo -reign or domestic. It will also allow the President to label anyone--in -cluding U.S. citizens-- -"belligere -nts" and hold them indefinite -ly without trial. How the House could approve such a measure is beyond me. The Senate vote on the NDAA is not yet scheduled.
It boggles the mind to imagine all the damage done to our country by al-Qaeda's successful attack on 9/11. It launched two decade-long wars that have cost one trillion dollars in the short term, so many lives lost, so many wounded, so much damage to property and infrastructure, and the economic cost is staggering. We actually could go broke in early August. Then there is the damage done to our form of government such as illustrated by Section 1034. This is still a bill, not a reality " yet. The damage done to our form of government begun during the Bush administration and continuing during the Obama administration is a reality.
I cannot credit al-Qaeda for doing all this damage for one very simple reason. We did this damage to ourselves. The war in Afghanistan was a shoddy operation from the very beginning, and the war in Iraq never should have been fought. These two errors in judgment are egregious in the sense that nearly all of our troubles today flow from these two debacles. A.Q. did not approve all the deficit spending that followed. A.Q. did not force the U.S. treasury to the brink of bankruptcy. A.Q. did not add the new and dangerous powers to the Executive Branch.
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