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Constitutional questions: Iraq
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singin sweet home alabama
 
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Constitutional questions: Iraq - February 12, 2007, 10:41 AM

So I've been reading a lot of news lately that Dems will turn Bush's request for additional money for Iraq this march into a debate over withdrawal.

There are various plans for withdrawal. The front runner is "threatening" the President with a non-biding resolution voicing the desire to withdraw in the hope that he acts towards withdrawal without congress having to deny funds (which could jeopardize troops) or challenge the President's "commander in cheif" role.

Other plans deny Bush the ability to grow the number of troops in Iraq, which again, might endanger troops if Bush were to go forward with a strategy that indeed does require additional troops (and obviously, congress would be against this strategy for the most part). Most plans do this, and require a bit by bit withdrawal in the manner most safe for US troops (whatever manner that is...).

Lastly, Congress may outright cut the money and force a withdrawal, though this isn't likely to happen.

Well, all of this makes me wonder how such a thing ought to work. Not specifically for Iraq, but all cases. At what point, and by what measure, does Congress tell a President to end a war immediately without denying funds or potentially place troops in additional danger (supply shortages, manpower etc)?

The way I see it, this President in particular would laugh at a non-binding resolution, and any cutting of funds would be parlayed into a "representative X denied supplies to the troops".

But this present situation aside, how ought Congress reel in a warmongering President (hypothetical - not saying Bush is warmongering ) without endangering the troops? Or in other words, who ought to declare a war to be finished? Is a war to be fought until the executive is satisfied, or until Congress is satisfied?

Just looking to start discussion. I enjoy reading the opinions of many on here.


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February 12, 2007, 10:42 AM

Congress isn't going to put troop lives at risk to make a political statement.


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singin sweet home alabama
 
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February 12, 2007, 11:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by YaoMatt
Congress isn't going to put troop lives at risk to make a political statement.
I'm not talking about Political statements... I'm talking about constitutional powers. Congress has the power to declare war, the President the power to execute war... but I've never heard of a Congress "undeclaring" war. It's only recourse seems to be to deny funding... which, as you just said, congress would be loathe to do for fear of putting troops at risk.

So otherwise, how ought Congress reel in a warmongering President? Or do you think, once a war is authorized, that the President has the power to fight as long as he wants without check?


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February 12, 2007, 11:19 AM

we never declared war on iraq. congress passed a resolution called the
"Authorization of the Use of Military Force." there was never any formal
declaration of war by congress.

this is a quote from the attorney general about our going into iraq:
"There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force. I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you're possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice. And we're not talking about a war declaration. This is an authorization only to use military force." --Alberto Gonzales

so... that should change your question a bit. can congress "take back" that
resolution? might be a little easier than trying to "un-declare" war.

-brett
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singin sweet home alabama
 
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February 12, 2007, 12:20 PM

Good point Bret. So you think Congress should revoke authorization in cases where it wants to see a military action end? Do you agree that Bush wouldn't be fazed by a non-binding resolution for withdrawal?

I imagine however, that regardless of how congress revokes authority though, that their only real power would remain the power of the purse... to cut money, and it seems to me that if it ever came to that, then the President himself should be blamed for endangering the troops by not obeying Congressional will and withdrawing when requested. We all know that wouldn't be the case, since it is Congress cutting the money, it is Congress who would be blamed.

Looks like a lose-lose for everyone.

Republicans will find the going difficult as long as the unpopular war continues, and Democrats would likely get the blame if they passed any resolution that has teeth (iow - cut funding).


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Last edited by DvlsAdvc8; February 12, 2007 at 12:23 PM..
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February 12, 2007, 02:15 PM

no, I don't think congress should revoke the authorization.

that being said, I *suppose* it could be done if they wanted to really press
things or maybe if they wanted to do that as a last resort.

according to the war powers resolution, without a declaration of war, a
president must report to congress within 48 hours of deploying troops into
a hostile situation. the president is required to remove those troops within
60 days unless *congress* had declared war, *congress* entends the
60 day period, or *congress* is unable to meet because of an attack on
the US.

now, the president can extend that 60 day period by another 30 days by
certifying to congress that a shorter removal time will be adverse to
troop safety. however, congress can pass a resolution requiring the
president to remove the troops sooner.

this is all well and good if you stick to that, but historically, the war powers
resolution has been ignored by presidents, with the claim that the
resolution is an unconstitutional limitation on their power.

imo, that needs to be cleared up and enforced. I have no problem with
troops being sent abroad if a president feels there is an iminent need, but
there need to be some checks and balances in place. there needs to be
oversight and an enforcable way to override the president, instead of
congress saying "no" and the president saying "I don't care, I'll do it
anyway."

-brett
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February 12, 2007, 02:23 PM

Well because I am one of the guys sitting his ass over here, I would like to say it isn't a war. It was never declared a war. We are in policing action.


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B
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February 12, 2007, 02:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mekanik
no, I don't think congress should revoke the authorization.

that being said, I *suppose* it could be done if they wanted to really press
things or maybe if they wanted to do that as a last resort.

according to the war powers resolution, without a declaration of war, a
president must report to congress within 48 hours of deploying troops into
a hostile situation. the president is required to remove those troops within
60 days unless *congress* had declared war, *congress* entends the
60 day period, or *congress* is unable to meet because of an attack on
the US.

now, the president can extend that 60 day period by another 30 days by
certifying to congress that a shorter removal time will be adverse to
troop safety. however, congress can pass a resolution requiring the
president to remove the troops sooner.

this is all well and good if you stick to that, but historically, the war powers
resolution has been ignored by presidents, with the claim that the
resolution is an unconstitutional limitation on their power.

imo, that needs to be cleared up and enforced. I have no problem with
troops being sent abroad if a president feels there is an iminent need, but
there need to be some checks and balances in place. there needs to be
oversight and an enforcable way to override the president, instead of
congress saying "no" and the president saying "I don't care, I'll do it
anyway."

-brett
and that would be the long and short of it.


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singin sweet home alabama
 
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February 12, 2007, 03:29 PM

Which takes us back to cutting funding being the only real check on a warmongering President. Which, apparently, is an empty threat because Congress would be loathe to cut funding and possibly jeopardize the troops.

Regarding war powers, I wasn't aware that this admin has been getting repeated 60 day extensions, so I suppose that is being ignored... this certainly isn't a declared war... anyone aware of any "end point" specified in the resolution authorizing the Iraq "action"?

I can very well see a scenario where the situation in Iraq is parlayed into an action in Iran - especially with them refusing to cease uranium enrichment and with greater evidence surfacing linking them as suppliers of EFP's (Explosively Formed Projectiles- think armor penetrating IED for those unaware).

Another thing I wonder... how is invading another sovereign nation with the purpose of overthrowing it reasonably not considered full blown "declaration of war" vs "authorizing military action". The only thing I can think of is that declarations of war are outdated, because it removes any possibility for negotiation and announces intention to attack... vs "authorizing" only meaning an attack *could* come. Seems nothing more than semantics, but I understand there are real legal differences... surely an opposing nation would react the same to an "authorization" as they would to a "declaration" of war.

Also, anyone know what happened to the philosophy of always having an exit strategy?


"No race has ever been won in the first corner, but plenty have been lost there."

Last edited by DvlsAdvc8; February 13, 2007 at 10:00 AM..
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