President Barack Obama has once again flagrantly violated the U.S. constitution by launching air strikes on Syrian territory under the justification of an illegal framework and with no Congressional input whatsoever.
In a move that threatens to enflame the entire region, Washington launched a wave of Tomahawk cruise missile attacks against ISIS targets late last night. Early reports indicate that eight civilians, including three children, were killed during an aerial bombardment on the city of Raqqa.
Despite the administration enjoying widespread support for its military campaign against ISIS, with nearly two thirds of Americans advocating air strikes within Syrian territory, suspicions are rife that Washington will subsequently turn its weapons against the Assad regime, which it has been trying to overthrow for more than two years.
Whatever the necessity and justification of the campaign against ISIS, Obama’s decision to once again ignore Congress, just as he did before the ultimately disastrous attack on Libya, reinforces the precedent of the White House launching military action with absolutely no legal foundation whatsoever.
Shortly after reports of U.S. air strikes on Syria emerged, Congressman Justin Amash also summed up the feelings of some lawmakers to Congressional leaders’ failure to engage in a vigorous debate about the new conflict.
It's irresponsible & immoral that instead of debating & voting on war, congressional leaders chose to recess Congress for nearly two months.
— Justin Amash (@repjustinamash) September 23, 2014
Although Congress recently voted to approve a plan to arm so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels (many of whom are aligned with or have sold weapons to ISIS), lawmakers did not give the green light to launch air strikes.
“What Congress never did was to specifically authorize a war,” writes Lynn Sweet. “The chain of events starting with Monday’s attacks in Syria may dilute pressure for another authorization vote. No matter what happens in the midterms, Congress may be hesitant to deny Obama war authorization when in fact the U.S. is again at war.”
President Obama claims that he has legal justification to attack ISIS based on the same 2001 authorization to use military force (AUMF) that preceded the war on terror. However, as W. James Antle notes, that law only covers “those nations, organizations, or persons” that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”
“On its face this is an implausible argument because the 2001 AUMF requires a nexus to al Qaeda or associated forces of al Qaeda fighting the United States,” Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told The Daily Beast. “Since ISIS broke up with al Qaeda it’s hard to make that argument.”
Prior to the attack on Libya, Obama brazenly undermined the power of Congress by insisting his authority came from the United Nations Security Council and that Congressional approval was not necessary. “I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question,” scoffed the President.
This time around, Obama hasn’t even bothered to get a rubber stamp from the UN, nor has he even addressed the notion that Congress should have a say in deciding whether America should commit itself to another military campaign which could easily expand into a full blown conflict given the Assad government’s vow that it will treat any U.S. military action within its territory as an act of war.
According to Congressman Walter Jones, Obama’s failure to obtain Congressional approval for the 2011 attack on Libya constituted “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
By once again snubbing Congress, Obama has brazenly violated the constitution and committed yet another impeachable offense.