Panetta Tells Congress “We Don’t Need Your Approval For War”
The Obama administration can obtain “legal” authority for a military strike on Syria from the UN or NATO, and no congressional authorization is necessary, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisted during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“When it comes to the kind of military action where we want to build a coalition with our international partners, then we would like to have some kind of legal basis on which to do it, as we did in Libya,” Panetta said during an extended colloquy with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).
Significantly, the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya was coordinated by the NATO alliance (a regional UN affiliate), which acted on the supposed authority provided by a UN Security Council resolution issued in response to a petition from the Arab League. Congress played no role whatsoever in authorizing the action. As Republic has previously noted, the same Power Elite players who choreographed the Libyan intervention have revised that script, re-casting Bashir Assad in the role played by the late Muamar Ghadafi – and Secretary Panetta made it plain that the administration intends to leave Congress on the cutting room floor once again.
“Do you think you can act without Congress to initiate a no-fly zone in Syria – without congressional approval?” asked Sen. Sessions.
“Our goal would be to seek international permission,” replied Panetta, adding – as if by way of patronizing afterthought – that “we would come to the Congress and inform you” about the progress of the unconstitutional onslaught against Syria. Once “legal permission” had been granted by NATO or “some kind of UN Security Council resolution,” he maintained, Obama wouldn’t need authorization from Congress.
“They provide no legal authority,” Sessions observed with more than a hint of exasperation coloring his voice. “The only legal authority to deploy the United States military is the Congress and the president … and the Constitution.”
Sec. Panetta Commits Treason and Tells Congress U.S. Military Takes Orders from U.N
Clinging tenaciously to his scripted talking points, Panetta replied that the Constitution entrusts the president with the authority to act in defense of the United States – a consideration that doesn’t apply in this case, since we have never been attacked nor threatened by Syria – but when the U.S. joins an international coalition, no congressional authorization is necessary: A permission slip from the UN or NATO will suffice.
Sen. Sessions appeared to perceive the arrangement described by Panetta as an impediment to U.S. military action. The truth is exactly the opposite: Involvement in the United Nations has facilitated U.S. military adventurism by removing Congress – the body supposed to represent the people – from the equation. From its origins in World War II, the United Nations has always been a war-making entity, and U.S. involvement in it amounts to an open-ended declaration of war.
On December 20, 1945, Truman signed a measure entitled the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 (UNPA), which effectively abolished Congress’s constitutional function in declaring war. Under the UNPA, the U.S. President can “negotiate a special agreement or agreements with the Security Council” concerning the use of American military personnel and facilities for UN “peacekeeping” and “peace enforcement” missions.
According to the text of that measure, “The President shall not be deemed to require the authorization of the Congress” to make American troops and assets available to the Security Council. In essence, Truman and his successors – including George W. Bush, whose conservative supporters considered an enemy of UN-centered “multilateralism” — have used the UNPA as a perpetual declaration of war granting them authority to deploy American troops anywhere in the world under the color of the UN’s supposed authority.
Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Michigan), who had been a defender of U.S. independence before being blackmailed by British intelligence into supporting the internationalist cause, observed during the debate over the UNPA that requiring “the consent of Congress to every use of our armed forces … would violate the spirit of the [UN] Charter” – as if that document, not the U.S. Constitution, was the one he was sworn to uphold. That confusion may have come naturally to Vandenberg, given that he had signed the Charter as a delegate to the UN’s founding conference in San Francisco.
In a tissue of tortured sophistry issued on April 1, 2011, an administration functionary named Caroline D. Krass claimed that Obama needed no congressional authorization of any kind to commit aggressive war against Libya, since in his all-sufficient and infallible judgment the possibility of “regional instability” and injury to the “credibility and effectiveness of the United Nations Security Council” posed threats to our national security that demanded a military response. Accordingly, Krass concluded, Obama could initiate war with Libya “as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers … even without prior specific congressional approval.’
According to Krass, the only “possible constitutionally-based limit” on the president’s supposed authority to wage war would involve “a planned military engagement that constitutes a `war’ within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause….” This is to say that from the Regime’s perspective, there is a vague, and not terribly important, possibility that the Declaration of War Clause might actually impose a hypothetical limit on presidential war powers. However, the memo goes on to assert that “the historical practice of even intensive military action [such as] … some two months of bombing in Yugoslavia in 1999 — without specific prior congressional approval” effectively nullifies that constitutional limitation.
Panetta was preaching the same anti-American vision in his discussion with Sen. Sessions. In doing so, he committed a “gaffe” in the Washington sense of the term – which Michael Kinsley, with unerringly precise cynicism, defined as an inadvertent admission of the truth. Seeking to walk back that admission, an anonymous Pentagon official told CNN that Panetta was merely “re-emphasizing the need for an international mandate. We are not ceding U.S. decision-making authority to some foreign body.”
There is a sense in which this is true: It is not the Obama administration that is making that concession; it was made in December 1945 – and what was given away is not the mythical “decision-making authority” of the president in matters of war, but the constitutionally mandated role of the Congress in making that decision.
To see a video of this exchange, go here.Tags: congress, congressional approval, congressional authorization, leon panetta, nato alliance, obama, permission, treason