Mitch McConnell Moves to Grant the President Unlimited War Powers with No Expiration Date

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The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.

– From George Orwell’s, 1984

This morning, I came across an extremely important story with tremendous long-term negative implications for freedom in these United States. It relates to the fact that the always shady Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving to fast track an Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) for the President that would allow for unrestricted warfare against ISIS. There would be no time or geographic restrictions on this authorization. Rather than being a favor to President Obama, this is primarily a means to ensure that whoever takes control in 2017 receives a blank check for unrestrained militarism with no expiration date. This is terrifying.

Before I get into the issue at hand, some background is necessary. Many legal scholars, and indeed, even many members of Congress have admitted that Obama’s war against ISIS is illegal and unconstitutional. One of the best articles I’ve read on why this is the case, was published in the New York Times in 2014, which I covered in the post, Obama’s ISIS War is Not Only Illegal, it Makes George W. Bush Look Like a Constitutional Scholar. Here are a few excerpts:

President Obama’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

Mr. Bush gained explicit congressional consent for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the Obama administration has not even published a legal opinion attempting to justify the president’s assertion of unilateral war-making authority. This is because no serious opinion can be written.

This became clear when White House officials briefed reporters before Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation on Wednesday evening. They said a war against ISIS was justified by Congress’s authorization of force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that no new approval was needed.

But the 2001 authorization for the use of military force does not apply here. That resolution — scaled back from what Mr. Bush initially wanted — extended only to nations and organizations that “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks.

 Not only was ISIS created long after 2001, but Al Qaeda publicly disavowed it earlier this year. It is Al Qaeda’s competitor, not its affiliate.

Mr. Obama may rightly be frustrated by gridlock in Washington, but his assault on the rule of law is a devastating setback for our constitutional order. His refusal even to ask the Justice Department to provide a formal legal pretext for the war on ISIS is astonishing.

It’s been almost two years since that Op-ed was written, and Obama is still carrying out his illegal war on ISIS with barely a peep from our incredibly corrupt and useless Congress. Indeed, the only thing Congress is scheming to do is to ensure the next President receives a blank check for perpetual war.

From the National Journal:

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell offered mem­bers a snow-week­end sur­prise late Wed­nes­day night: Quietly tee­ing up a po­ten­tial de­bate on the leg­al un­der­pin­ning for the fight against IS­IS.

After months of wor­ry­ing that such a res­ol­u­tion—known as an au­thor­iz­a­tion for the use of mil­it­ary force—would tie the next pres­id­ent’s hands, Mc­Con­nell’s move to fast-track the meas­ure sur­prised even his top deputy, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Whip John Cornyn, who was un­aware that Mc­Con­nell had set up the au­thor­iz­a­tion.

The AUMF put for­ward by Mc­Con­nell would not re­strict the pres­id­ent’s use of ground troops, nor have any lim­its re­lated to time or geo­graphy. Nor would it touch on the is­sue of what to do with the 2001 AUMF, which the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has used to at­tack IS­IS des­pite that au­thor­iz­a­tion’s in­struc­tions to use force against those who planned the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. By con­trast, the leg­al au­thor­ity put for­ward by the ad­min­is­tra­tion last Feb­ru­ary wouldn’t au­thor­ize “en­dur­ing of­fens­ive ground com­bat op­er­a­tions” and would have ended three years after en­act­ment, un­less reau­thor­ized.

Read that over and over and over until you get how incredibly dangerous it is.

Don Stew­art, Mc­Con­nell’s spokes­man, said Thursday in an email that the new AUMF “is not the one the [p]res­id­ent asked for” and “not one that would tie the [p]res­id­ent’s hands.”

Exactly. It’s not the one the President asked for, it’s far more aggressive and dangerous.

Stew­art ad­ded that the pro­cess Mc­Con­nell used to set up the AUMF, known as “Rule XIV,” merely sets up the au­thor­iz­a­tion for a fu­ture vote, but does not put it on the cal­en­dar—mean­ing a vote could come at any time, or not at all. The res­ol­u­tion already has four Re­pub­lic­an co­spon­sors: Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, Daniel Coats, Joni Ernst, and Or­rin Hatch.

If war monger Lindsey Graham is a co-sponsor you know for sure it’s an unmitigated disaster for liberty.

Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Bob Cork­er said that there is still a “wide di­versity” of opin­ions on the is­sue. Some Demo­crats were crit­ic­al of even the pres­id­ent’s own draft AUMF, warn­ing that they’d need ad­di­tion­al re­stric­tions from the ad­min­is­tra­tion on troop levels and geo­graph­ic bound­ar­ies be­fore they could sup­port any au­thor­iz­a­tion. Re­pub­lic­ans, mean­while, wor­ried deeply about re­strict­ing the pres­id­ent as this ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the next one, work to com­bat IS­IS.

“This is the right thing,” said Gra­ham, a co­spon­sor on the new AUMF res­ol­u­tion. “This is the right in­fra­struc­ture to have.”

“If our Demo­crat­ic friends don’t want to give this pres­id­ent and oth­er pres­id­ents the abil­ity to go after IS­IS without lim­it­a­tion to geo­graphy, time and means—be on the re­cord,” he added.

Indeed, I’d like to see every member of Congress go on the record as to the issue of perpetual war to fight an enemy created by our government’s own foreign policy and our “allies'” funding and armaments.

Kaine said that al­though he and the vast ma­jor­ity of Con­gress sup­port com­batting IS­IS, he dis­agrees with the ad­min­is­tra­tion that the pres­id­ent is with­in his au­thor­ity to do so. “I be­lieve the war is il­leg­al,” Kaine said Thursday. “I don’t think there’s a leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for it. And I think the greatest danger we end up do­ing is al­low­ing the pres­id­ent to wage a war without Con­gress weigh­ing in.”

Cornyn, who in Decem­ber said that Re­pub­lic­ans would not present an AUMF of their own un­til the pres­id­ent out­lined a strategy, said that he non­ethe­less wel­comed de­bate on the is­sue.

“I don’t think we should be afraid of that de­bate, but we need a co­her­ent strategy from the pres­id­ent which we still don’t have and we also don’t need to tie the hands of the next pres­id­ent by re­strict­ing what the pres­id­ent can do,” Cornyn said.

Sorry, but wasn’t the entire idea of a legislative branch to precisely restrict what the President can do. Congress is purely ceremonial at this point. What an utter embarrassment.

For related articles, see:

Must Watch Video – U.S. Senator Issues Dire Warning on Unchecked Executive Power

The New York Times Admits – Despite Going to Congress, Obama is Still Defending Unlimited War Powers

Obama’s ISIS War is Not Only Illegal, it Makes George W. Bush Look Like a Constitutional Scholar

The Pentagon Admits: The “War on Terror” Will Never End

It’s Time to Repeal the AUMF

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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11 Comments

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  1. Why get involved at all? Russia is already doing a far better job than we have done, and the work may soon be finished.

    • Russia has done in a couple of months what we supposedly tried to do over a few years… of course, it was all show on our part because the idea was always to keep ISIS intact in order to fight our war against Asad.

  2. Mr. Krieger, your article, even though, eloquent and somewhat informative is naive. Mr. Bush,not only violated our Constitution but lied to “We” the American people, and the world. His congressional approval to go to war was based on deceit and lies. Lies of WMD’s, lies of an enemy, who was clearly not the culprit of the assault in our homeland and the deceit of creating an enemy,that as per Mr.Bush’s and his administration,presented a clear and imminent danger to the American people,our way of life and the world. These lies and deceit , not only resulted in trillions of dollars of tax payer money, freviously spent in a war that continues today, but resulted in the careless act of placing our most precious assets , our young men and women in clear and present danger, both at home and abroad.Thousands of lives lost in war based on greed,war and fear mongering and millions of more lives affected, on both sides of the conflict, by the collateral damages of war. Collateral damage & destructive repercussions to our youth & the families of our serviceman. A war that has tainted our moral fabric with its deceit and furthermore has destroyed our trust as citizens, in those who pretend to govern our country.
    Mr. Obama and his administration are at best a continuation of Mr. Bush’s both W. Bush and H.W. Bush, usurping policies, of perpetual war for the benefit of a ruling class and the war industrial complex. A ruling class and an industrial war complex who slowly are robbing us of our privacy,our rights,our freedoms and supported by a Congress bought and paid for by the same elite & industrial complex.
    Good day Sir and may God protect and save the United States Of America.

    • Michael Krieger

      I agree with everything you wrote.

      I understand this is your first comment on the site, so you are likely unfamiliar with my point of view and body of work. If you go through the hundreds of posts I’ve written per year since 2012, I don’t think you’ll see me as naive on the issues you mentioned, but rather as a kindred spirit.

      Best,
      Michael Krieger

  3. Look behind the curtain. This is just show. TPTB have already decided that this will happen and they are just informing the peasants after the fact. This comes from far higher than the sock puppets in the US Congress or the Executive branch.

  4. Mr. Krieger:

    Would you or your staff please take down my 2 other comments. I was not aware that they would have to be “moderated” prior to showing. I’m not at all comfortable with that “format” and don’t care to participate on sites that require it. No offense, but it’s a “liberty” thing.

    Thank you,
    Dragon

    • Michael Krieger

      All your comments are not moderated. Just the first time someone comments on the site there is a process to weed out trolls and other bad actors.
      Should you decide not to comment further, that’s fine too, but they will post immediately from now on.

  5. Hi,

    Please forgive me for my ignorance, I am not an American, thus not well-versed regarding your country’s constitution and its laws. I am curious. If the President feels he can do essentially what he wants, and seems to be doing just that, what is to stop him from perpetually staying on as the President. What I mean is, could he cancel, or post-pone the upcoming election, citing this Bill about which you have written?

    The last time I was in the U.S. for an extended stay was in 2008. I was in the Denver airport, waiting to board a flight back to Canada. There was, over the intercom, warnings about some code level threat jargon, and that, combined with the new security checks left me feeling that the American public was undergoing, via its own government, a serious psychological, fast-tracked (re?)programming scheme. I hope that made sense. 🙂 I am not at all surprised by what you have revealed. I have been keeping tabs on what has been going on in your country ever since that ominous visit. I had heard of the changes America has undergone since 9/11, but got to experience it first-hand. My ancestors played a role in establishing America during in its inception, and still have relatives there, so I feel a connection, thus very sad for what has and is taking place.

    In Canada, things have been changing, too, first in increments, now increasingly fast, too, especially during the past two, three years.

  6. How can You fight ISIS if
    Our Allies are openly suporting ISIS,

    To send your Young Men and Women to Fight in a War, and you know you are supporting the otherside is Treachery.

    We have already seen in the UK Government used the same ploy as they did in 9/11 to help with the Air Strikes ,the infrastructure is being destroyed to make the Country uninhabitable.

  7. Why would they war with ISIS after creating them? This “permission” would not be used for it’s intent and you can bet on it. Look for spending the money on “other” things in the name of war. Perhaps another military police force, and train them to invade your homes and lives 24/7.

  8. Mitch McConnell is Jar Jar Binks. . .

    Be careful – we all saw how the Clone War turned out. . .

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