Kucinich: Thank you. Thanks, Rob. It's good to be with you.
Rob: You've been pretty active lately in talking about Libya. Can you give my listeners an idea where you're standing on this issue?
Number 1: The president took this country to war without following the constitution. Number 2: We are already in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and over the nation of Pakistan.
Number 3: This is our fourth action in a Muslim country.
Number 4: We cannot afford the continuing cost of these wars.
Number 5: It sets the stage for more wars and more interventions.
Number 6: The people of Libya have to sort out their own difficulties. This idea of humanitarian intervention is a contradiction in terms and we will foment a civil war as we continue to insist on a presence there. There are so many reasons why this is wrong.
Rob: When this started, it seems to me that Obama missed a big step getting congressional approval for this.
Kucinich: Well the president has an obligation to become the congress if he"s going to take the country to war. This goes beyond with the elect President Obama now, beyond whether you're a democrat or republican. The question is: Do we respect the constitution of the United States? This is a teachable moment where come to realization that the House of Representatives, that the congress, rather, was created in article one. The executive branch was created in article two. We are first among equals. The power to take the country into war, to declare war was very carefully put in the hands of the legislative branch because the founders did not want to get to a position where we were under George III and previous kings of England where they would just carry a nation into war willy nilly.
So they took the power to create war out of the hands of the executive or king and put it into the hands of an elected congress and that is so important to understand because the impact of war is so great upon the whole society that this shouldn't be left to just one person. Now, if there was an emergency affecting you know affecting -- and if there's an immediate attack on the United States, then we have the right to respond, but that's not what happened here. This is about something happening in Libya.
Rob: So what is congress doing about this? I wrote a piece about this when it happened saying that congress had basically handed over additional executive powers to the president and had given away its own rights and powers.
Kucinich: Well we could argue the war powers act was an unlawful or unconstitutional delegation of congressional authority to the president of the United States for a period of 60 days. However beyond the war powers act, the congress has been unwilling to discipline a series of administrations' march towards war through cutting funding, and I mean we have this conflict where people who say they're opposed to war vote to fund it. If you're in congress and you're opposed to war, you vote to cut the funding for the war.
You cannot, as a member of congress, say that you are opposed to a war and continue to fund it. You can't have it in both ways and so we, congress has not only missed the opportunity by failing to openly and publicly and vociferously challenge the president in his arrogation of the war powers to himself, but also congress has failed to assert its primacy on these matters by insisting that it will not fund any war, If it had nothing to say about its creation
Rob: Well what I'm trying get is, didn't Obama follow the rules and get permission to start this thing in Libya?
Kucinich: Well he got permission from the UN; he got permission from the Arab League; he got permission from NATO; he got permission from specifically at the request of France and Great Britain. He just missed -
Rob: So, what's up in Congress?
Kucinich: Yes, well that's the point, I mean, think about this now? Why would he need permission from anyone? Why would he have to talk to all those people, all of those institutions and yet not talk to the United States Congress? Why would he take 30 days at least that we know of, to line up support in each of those alliances and not come to the United States Congress who represents people who have to send their sons and daughters, either over the air or in the sea off the coast of Libya, who will pay the bills, who bear the burden of this struggle? Why wouldn't he check with Congress who represents the people that inevitably have to suffer the domestic impact there?
There's just no plausible argument. There's no sound constitutional argument. There's no basis in constitutional law for this, and you know, unless you are to take the John Yoo like wizardry that produced the torture memorandums. Where are we left with an administration that just defies the constitution and leaves the Congress as a supplicant in matters of constitutional privilege and priority?
Rob: It seems like that at least George W. Bush asked the Congress. He lied to them to bring them to war, but at least he asked.
Kucinich: Well you know, I mean, you know, your point is well taken unfortunately, President Bush's request was predicated on a lie, for which, by the way, he has yet to be held accountable. President Obama made several assertions as to why we went to war, but he never came to Congress directly to make those assertions before making a decision and he still has not acquitted himself with respect to the reasons for our intervention.
It is highly questionable when you understand that two weeks ago highranking administration officials were hard pressed even to describe who it is we are trying to help, that we weren't really able to define who the "rebels" are, that we weren't able to answer definitely what the connection of some elements of Al-Qaeda are to the so-called rebels that we weren't able to - that there was no discussion about the connection between the national front for the salvation of Libya and the Central Intelligence Agency over a period of three decades. So you know, what is this all about? And why does it have anything to do with American people? That really is a question that has not been answered. Just because the president asserts it's international interest doesn't mean it's in the national interest; that's his version.
Rob: This is Rob Kall, Bottom-Up Radio Show WNJC1360 AM, sponsored by opednews.com. I'm talking to Congressman Kucinich Kucinich about Libya.
It seems to me, you're an expert at this, that if Obama didn't do what the constitution said and he brought us to war, is that an impeachable offense?
Kucinich: Well you know, I raised the question early on and I think that a violation of this constitution of this magnitude certainly needs to be understood as far as its implications. It's not simply about the action of the individual who happens to be the president of the United States; it's about the actions of an individual that may put the presidency at risk. Because that presidency doesn't belong to him; it belongs to the nation. And so yes, it was an action that was against the constitution that certainly could be impeachable, and you know, I'm not saying that, that's the same thing as starting the process of impeachment because I haven't advocated that. But it's just unquestionable that the president violated the constitution.
Rob: Okay. Why haven't you advocated it?
Kucinich: Look, the country has enough instability going on right now. I just you know, I'm not interested in being the agent for destabilizing the political process. However, it's important that it be said that the president went outside the constitution, and at some point, he has to you know, the American people has to decide how seriously they take that offense you know, when he's up for reelection.
Rob: What kind of a resonance is there within the Congress among your colleagues in terms of your concerns about this?
Kucinich: Let's say there's a general concern about the constitution being followed. I'd say that there's a small group of members who feel very strongly about it, on both sides of the aisle, I might add. And you know, we understand that this is not simply about the unconstitutional actions against Libya, but it's, in this administration, could very well set a precedent concerning military intervention and still another country without coming to Congress. Because to listen to Secretary Clinton, there's a feeling on the part of the administration that they just don't have to check with Congress about these things. Well you know, I don't -
Rob: That seems to be a very serious and dangerous situation.
Kucinich: I see it exactly the way you articulated it.
Rob: Now, you've also made some connections and some communication with the UN. What is your concern there?
Kucinich: Well, France and Great Britain today indicated they want NATO to do more to support the rebels. Well, guess what? There's a UN mandate that calls for the protection fof all civilians. If NATO begins to continue to be or begins to be the air force of the rebels, there's no question you're going to see a lot of civilian casualties as the rebels seek to press westward towards Tripoli and towards the heaviest populated areas of Libya. So I you know, and what I asked the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to do is to enforce UN mandate. And that it's not supposed to about regime change. It's not supposed to be about having NATO serve as the air force of the rebels. It's supposed to be about protecting civilian populations and if you take sides in a civil war, you actually are going to help kill a lot of people especially if you're a major military power or its arm, which NATO is a major military power and we're paying 25 - US pays 25% of its military bills. And I think it'd be fair to say that NATO is an arm of the United States Department of Defense.
Kucinich: Well you know, I'm privileged to serve in the United States Congress. You know, immediately I'm you know, working on matters to create jobs and to bring about peace. But I also, we have to say from a [practical] political standpoint, in the next year, we're looking at a redistricting in the state of Ohio, which has lost two congressional seats in this census and the Cleveland area where I represent has had the sharpest population drop, so most news reports coming out of Cleveland and Ohio indicate that my district will be either dramatically altered or abolished in the next redistricting. So I would just ask people to keep track of that because at some point down the road, I may need some help. In the meantime, I'm open to a listening to people's concerns and you can always call my office in Washington with any ideas that you may have to you know, see if I can find a way to bring those ideas to public attention. And I'm always, I'm always grateful, Rob, for the work that you do because it's so important to give people information about what's happening so that they can make decisions about their own world based on the best information.
Rob: Thank you. Well you gave me a lot more time than you promised. I want to thank you.
Kucinich: I know how important it is and I appreciate the opportunity to share some time with you and your listeners and let's talk again, okay.
Rob: All right. Thank you so much.
Kucinich: Thank you, Sir. Bye now.