Rep. Scott Rigell started circulating a letter requesting that President Obama seek congressional approval before America responds to Syria with military force.
His letter was signed by 98 Republicans and 18 Democrats.
Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post reported yesterday that the letter "suggests that failure to seek congressional authorization for military strikes would be unconstitutional." A list of those who signed the letter is included in O'Keefe's article, as well.
Although the White House previously insisted that key members of Congress were brought in for talks over a possible military strike, clearly not all members agreed.
The amazing Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed reported that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both have "evolving" opinions on this matter, He reported that "During the 2008 presidential campaign, both made undeniably clear the president could not authorize a military strike without congressional except for a case of an 'imminent threat.'" They both evoked the Constitution in their arguments.
Joe Biden said in 2008:
"It is precisely because the consequences of war - intended or otherwise - can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens."
In 2008, President Obama said:
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
Yet, now it seems that Congress is practically begging to be a part of the decision to strike Syria. Considering White House Press Secretary Jay Carney's assurance that "The options that we are considering are not about regime change," what exactly is the point? Is it just to avoid being "mocked," as reported yesterday?
It should be noted that although Rep. Scott Rigell's effort is to be applauded, it is not unprecedented that President Obama would bypass Congress on any issue, including military strikes against a foreign nation without an "imminent threat" to the United States.
Although it did not get much attention in the slack-jawed mainstream media, a "bipartisan group of lawmakers filed suit in federal court against Obama seeking to end the U.S. participation in Libya," arguing that "Obama has exceeded his authority as commander in chief by waging war in Libya without congressional authorization," as reported by Scott Wilson of the Washington Post.
Who has the chemical weapons?
There has been speculation also, that the al Qaeda-linked militants may be using chemical weapons.
As reported Wednesday from the Associated Press via Fox News:
"Syria's U.N. ambassador is demanding that United Nations experts investigate three alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian soldiers."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a less-than-convincing statement on this point, as reported by the New York Daily News:
"I think it's pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria," Hagel said. "I think the intelligence will conclude that it wasn't the rebels who used it, and there will probably be pretty good intelligence to show that the Syria government was responsible."
It is not exactly a bold, confident statement, is it?
Watch Vice President Biden threaten to impeach President Bush in 2007 if he went to war with Iran without Congressional Approval:
Image source: AFP Photo/Emin Ozmen/Sabah Press via endthelie.com