Following the Obama administration’s decision to launch air strikes on Syrian territory without a declaration of war or authorization from Congress, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) questioned why the United States even has a Constitution anymore.
As we highlighted yesterday, the Obama administration’s legal justification for military strikes inside Syria does not come from Congress, which was not consulted, nor does it even come from the United Nations, a fall back the Obama White House used following the 2011 bombardment of Libya.
Obama’s legal framework for the campaign against ISIS in Syria rests on a 2001 authorization of military force that expressly limits military action to be used against “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.”
With Al-Qaeda having divorced itself from Islamic State, ISIS has no connection whatsoever to 9/11, meaning Obama’s legal basis for the attacks inside Syria is non-existent.
Congressman Walter Jones, who previously accused Obama of committing an impeachable offense for his failure to get the green light from Congress before the attack on Libya, questioned why the United States even has a Constitution anymore given the White House’s propensity to repeatedly ignore and violate its terms.
“They can make all the calls they want and that’s fine but when you really come down to it, do you follow the Constitution or not? If we don’t want to follow the Constitution, then why do we have a Constitution?” Jones told Breitbart News, adding, “It goes back to the Vietnam war and it just seems to get worse and worse.”
The Congressmaneven hinted that the bombing campaign was timed by the administration to coincide with lawmakers going on recess.
“I would be in favor of going back to debate and to have a vote, but I think it’s too late. I think it should have been before the president made this decision to bomb in Syria and I think there were many of us in both parties who thought that while we were gone he would bomb in Syria. My thinking is that Speaker Boehner made a mistake of not following the lead of McGovern, Jones and Lee [the lead signers of that letter], to bring this to the floor before we left. Now it will be after the fact, and I’m sure there will be more bombing over the next few days and the fact is that we did not meet our Constitutional duty. I’m very disappointed, that’s the best way I can say it,” said Jones.
Jones also blamed Congressional leaders like John Boehner for failing to organize a vote on military force.
“Those who wrote the Constitution warned us of these interventions around the world, even if we think they’re justified. Let’s have a debate on the floor of the House. Let’s have a vote on the floor of the House,” said the Congressman.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who supported Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, also went on the offensive, telling the Huffington Post that the standing of Congress had been diminished by the move and that the administration had adopted Dick Cheney’s preemptive war doctrine.
“Congress should not so easily hand over to the president the ability to wage pre-emptive war,” said Kaine, adding that the damage to Congress’ reputation would be “enormous” if no vote was taken.
“It is highly immoral to ask servicemen and women to risk their lives around a mission if the president feels that it is inconvenient to ask Congress to bless it, or members of Congress are afraid of the political consequence of blessing it,” said Kaine, who has introduced an authorization for use of force which couldn’t be abused by future administrations to justify open ended war.
Senator Rand Paul also complained that the Constitution had been bypassed by the White House.
“I support military action against ISIS but continue to believe the Constitution requires the President to receive Congressional authorization,” Paul stated.