Potential Syria strike divides Congress

Lawmakers to Obama: Attack needs our OK.
Associated Press
Aug 27, 2013

 

President Barack Obama's possible military intervention in Syria is already running into fierce opposition among some members of Congress, with a growing chorus of Republican and Democratic lawmakers demanding he seek congressional authorization for any strikes against the Assad regime.

In the House, Republican Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia is asking colleagues to sign a letter to Obama urging him to reconvene Congress and seek approval for any military action. And in the Senate, even some who support punishing the Syrian government for launching alleged chemical weapons attacks are joining the call for the president to first gain Congress' approval.

"Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution," Rigell's letter argues.

A copy was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

To make their case, lawmakers are citing the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Passed after President Richard Nixon's secret Vietnam War-era operations, the law reaffirmed Congress' constitutional responsibility to declare war and put a 60-day time limit on the president's ability to take unauthorized, emergency military action. Since then, commanders in chief of both parties have maintained that the resolution is unconstitutional and have regularly disregarded it.

The Obama administration appears likely to use force in the coming days in response to reports last week of a large-scale gas attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the Damascus suburbs. At least 100 people died.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that evidence of such an attack was "undeniable" and that intelligence strongly pointed to Assad's government — a claim the Syrian leader called "preposterous." Kerry said that international standards against chemical weapons "cannot be violated without consequences," outlining the clearest justification yet for U.S. military action, most likely coming through sea-launched cruise missiles on regime targets.

After a decade of costly and deadly fighting in the Muslim world, Americans strongly oppose any new U.S. war in the region. Opinions in Congress are mixed as well. Republicans are split between hawks and tea party isolationists. Democrats are divided between advocates of humanitarian intervention and those who fear that even limited action risks sucking the United States into another conflict.

Despite the divides, legislators of varying political hue are trying to reassert what they claim is their power to authorize the use of force.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a former Democratic Party chairman, said the Assad government must be held accountable for its indiscriminate violence and "despicable" chemical attacks. But he urged that proper procedures be followed.

"Absent an imminent threat to United States national security, the U.S. should not be engaged in military action without congressional approval," Kaine said. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, has made a similar argument.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked only that Obama present his case to the American people and consult with Congress. "He needs to explain what vital national interests are at stake and should put forth a detailed plan with clear objectives and an estimated cost for achieving those objectives," he said.

That doesn't seem near enough for tea party favorite Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who has issued a series of tweets arguing that unauthorized strikes against Syria would be unconstitutional and illegal. He is putting pressure on leadership in his own party to call Congress back into session for a debate and vote before any such action occurs.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is on the opposite end of the spectrum. "I think the president has the right to attack without the approval or consultation of Congress," he told The Associated Press by telephone. "But a wise leader would reach out."

Lawmakers are scheduled to return from a five-week recess on Sept. 9.

It's unclear what impact all the activity will yield.

When the U.S. acted with allies against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi two years ago, Obama maintained military operations for more than three months without congressional authorization. He said the U.S. wasn't violating the War Powers Resolution because Americans were supporting a NATO-led operation and weren't engaged in full-blown hostilities. Despite criticism from mainly Republican lawmakers, Obama suffered no serious repercussions.

___

AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

 

Comments

The New World Czar

"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. As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action." Senator Barack Obama- 2007

coasterfan

Let's just hope that he doesn't use false information, such as the presence of WMDs when none actually exist, to gain support for getting us into a war. That would be an obviously impeachable offense. Good thing that could never happen, huh?

mikeylikesit

bushes big mistake was giving the enemy time (30 days?) to move "suspected" weapons..

deertracker

They must have moved them to the best hiding place on the planet. Still looking?

Fromthe419

Possibly Syria?

Darwin's choice

Fool !

KnuckleDragger

^^The usual Obamabots who condemned Bush for sending troops to Iraq, and claimed to be against war, now support our President intervening in a countries civil war. The hypocrisy of the Democrat party is almost blinding.

deertracker

Wrong again GI Joe. I say let the Arab countries handle it. It's not our responsibility to save people that do not even like America!

Contango

Re: "Let's just hope that he doesn't use false information,"

Yep! There's absolutely NO possibility that the most transparent administration in the history of the Republic would EVER LIE to the American people (cough, cough).

Kinda makes former Speaker of the House Pelosi look like the supreme idiot that she is.

"We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," - Ms. Pelosi

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/n...

Fromthe419

Whatever the President does in this case, I will support him. I may not agree with all of his policies, but when deciding whether or not to send our troops in harms way, I am an American first, then I am a Libertarian. I'll be praying for Obama to make a wise choice based on the information he is given.

Darwin's choice

Fool too!

Fromthe419

Not a fool Darwin, just a realist. I support my President even though I do not agree with his policies. We are Americans first and foremost. If he decides to send our troops (and our children) into harm's way, I pray he has the best information and I will support our troops. I know many Vietnam vets that came home and were spit upon because the had the courage to serve, I will not take part in that. If the President sends them into this quagmire, I will support them.

Darwin's choice

I'll forever support our troops and veterans, but not the fools who throw them away.....!

Mystery_Cheese

I'll always support our troops. However, I will not always support the President, especially if he's sending our troops into unneeded danger. I couldn't stand Bush for this reason, and Obama is pretty much Bushing it up with his foreign policy as well.

Licorice Schtick

Refreshing to see support for this difficult decision.

Remember during the Bush administration when questioning anything about his foreign policy was framed as tantamount to "putting our troops in danger?"

Republicans have a double standard. Right now their strategy is to condemn everything the Democratic President does or doesn't do. It's absurd. We need to get right-wing extremists out of Congress.

KnuckleDragger

^^Another Obamabot hypocrite.

santown419

I agree

santown419

I agree

arnmcrmn

No stick....Bush went through the proper chain of command with Iraq. Obama just bypasses everyone and does what he wants. Huge difference.

deertracker

@Licorice
I agree!

ndirish22

Anyone who saw video of the innocent victims suffering would not hesitate to take military action regardless of political affiliation.

Centauri

Here is an idea. Send your loved ones off to war. You should go too.

KnuckleDragger

It is a middle east problem. Let the nations over there clean up the mess. After all, many of those nations have American military equipment and have been trained by us. Let them fight.

SamAdams

EXACTLY! We have a history of getting involved in places that aren't representative of a direct imminent threat to us. Hitler was a European problem, and Assad is a Middle Eastern problem. The end. (For those of you who are a tad slow on the uptake, I might be speaking just a little sarcastically here...)

There are only two real issues that I'm seeing here:

1. Obama, WHATEVER the rationale to stage action against Syria, needs to go through Congress as Constitutionally mandated, and

2. If Obama can rationalize reasons to go after any part of Syria and/or its government, then how does he explain the failure to act in parts of Africa where people have suffered comparably for YEARS now? (And yes, I'm well aware that neither Clinton nor Bush took action in Africa, either. All that proves is that those claiming we're acting less on behalf of humanity than we are on behalf of oil may have a point.)

Centauri

Stop sending our young people off to war in foreign lands!

The Industrial Military Complex needs more young American soldiers for cannon fodder and bigger profits for the rich ruling class.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/art...
"President Eisenhower was ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist for his famous remark about the “military-industry complex.” But Edward Snowden’s leaks have reminded us it’s real, it’s bigger and more wasteful than ever, and its bloat can even threaten our national security."

Send the rich ruling class off to the wars.

KnuckleDragger

Absolutely true. They are taking retirement benefits away from retired military as we speak. The reasoning? We need more money to "Modernize." In other words, we are stealing from the working class and retirees to pay billions of dollar to rich defense contractors. I have an idea, stop getting us involved on other peoples wars, and cut the bloated DOD civilian workforce which currently stands at 718,000.

deertracker

Ah yes, speaking of redistribution! How does it feel?

Centauri

Send Obama, Kerry and anyone else who supports going to war. Stop sending our young people off to war. History is going to repeat itself again and again. Stop meddling in other countries. Syria did not attack the US.

Centauri

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/...
"Obama approves military aid for Syrian rebels, deepening U.S. involvement in bloody civil war"

The US needs to stop sticking its nose into other countries.

mikeylikesit

I agree..

bella39

Totally agree with Centauri!!!!!!!

deertracker

Agreed!

Centauri

http://www.washingtonpost.com/bl...
"Who loves and hates America: A revealing map of global opinion toward the U.S."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...
"10 Countries That Hate America Most: 24/7 Wall St."

http://listverse.com/2009/05/13/...
"Top 10 Excuses People Use To Hate America"

International Meddling

2cents's picture
2cents

Well I hope the preso knows what he is in for! I was on a video call with friends in Syria over the weekend, and the buzz around there is that the crazy al Qaeda took people, gassed them in a building and put them on display, a friend lost her daughter in Damascus, she was a few weeks away from graduating and receiving her physician’s degree. Who knows but let the weapons people check, after all the problem areas are only in a few big cities. The rest of the country is normal other than al Qaeda kidnaps people here and there for ransom to make money, or if they do not like the way you look, they just put a bullet in your head.

Syria may be a dictatorship but most people like their president? In Syria you can own property, women can go to college and none are required to where that stupid burka. Can we say the same about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait that the US government thinks are just fine under their dictatorships? The US changed the governments of Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraqi and how are things there? I feel that some peoples are just not ready for our form of democracy, is our system any better as it is right now? We are in debt up to our ears, we practice inequality and think that by letting a whole lot of illegals into the country to flood an already over loaded workforce we are all that! Makes you think.

Stop It

Religion.

red white and blue

Do u really think those people in other countrys care about us? Let me ask u this when we have had major loses here with storms or 911 where were they well.......ya I'm waiting we have are own problems what do u want us to do barrow more money go in to more dept.lose more of our boys for people that are ungratefull.russia has allready warned us to stay out of it never thought I'd say this but I agree.

KnuckleDragger

As much as it pains me to say this, Putin is right on this one.

SamAdams

It's sad, but true: I find myself agreeing with Putin, and BELIEVING Putin, more than I do this country's OWN leadership! Of course, once you've been found to have lied/be lying about dam*ed near everything, is it really a surprise when people just assume you're STILL lying?

The Big Dog's back

Putin told bush not to go into Iraq. Let's see, what could be the difference? Nah, it's definitely not because we have a Black President who right wingers hate. Couldn't be that.

grumpy

Lets see what differences there are. Bush got congress to vote for military actions, he also got UN approval for military intervention. Biden, in 2003 said if Bush went in he would support impeachment, and Obama said the a President didn't have the right nor power to go in. Has Congress been asked to vote? has the UN agreed of military intervention?

Are those the types of things you were looking for when you asked what differences there are?

Bet we don't get answers from the piddle puppy.

If you wish to question that look it up, and then look up UN resolution 1441 for the UN passing the OK for the US military intervention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira...

Gave you one link now you can search out the rest. I gave you enough key words to do it yourself.

Contango

Kinda reminds me of the entangling alliances that led to a much larger conflict that History later named WWI.

The foreign policy bumbling Nobel Peace Prize winner is playin' with fire.

Question: What the h*ll IS the U.S.' Middle East foreign policy????

arnmcrmn

Where are the liberals? No more wars, no more troops overseas!!

Crickets (chirp chirp)

Really are you ...

Let Syria fight with itself. They have not threatened our soil. This We Will Defend, not The Worlds Police. Both Bush's showed Iraq and the world our military power, effectiveness, and capabilities even if there may have been some false flags involved. Both heads of the snake have been removed Iraq and Afghanistan. Remove our military personnel from harms way, and let those troops recover and sharpen their MOS skills. Dare some third world country to threaten our land, so we can flex our military muscle once again. But until then we should just watch. Let the UN decide if forces should be joined for any of the current hot spots that does not threaten American soil.

The New World Czar

When you look at the supporting cast of characters on each side of the conflict, we're best to stay out of the hornet's nest.

Seriously, tell everyone how long you will strike and what your intended targets are? The Obama administration is now in a "what can we do not to embarrass ourselves again and look good" mode.

Huron_1969

We are between a rock and a hard place......
1) A limited air strike will just aggravate the situation with zero positive results
2) We are in no position to launch a full out war nor do we know how to win it
3) Ignoring it could be the worst decision - it'll become a bigger and more dangerous problem in the near future

KURTje

Blo non-vetereans, blo.

Centauri

http://america.aljazeera.com/top...
Syria's War

"ALLEGED" nerve gas strike in Syria viewed in context of almost a century of chemical warfare

Centauri

http://america.aljazeera.com/art...
"While it isn't a secret that the U.S. government aided Iraq's military to prevent an Iranian victory in the nearly decade-long war between the two countries, it is the first time that official documents reveal the scale of the United States’acquiescence to some of the largest chemical-weapons attacks in recent history, including the gassing of thousands of Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in 1988.

The CIA documents are part of a secret program where the U.S. government shared military intelligence with the Iraqi regime, detailing the positions of Iranian forces after they had discovered a hole in Iraqi defenses and were planning a strike. The information resulted in several chemical attacks on Iran and eventually forced the country to the negotiating table, FP reports."

EZOB

We'll never see peace in the Middle East in our life span. You want to calm an even closer problem? How about the Million Muslim March coming this 911 in DC? They just want to see how far they can push us. It starts with just a little push and the next thing you know you have a Big Bully problem on your hands. We are not prepared to let our Military fight a war to Win. Our accepted rules of engagement are terrible and the enemy knows it. I'm for pulling out all our troops and leaving all the Embassies all over the World. We have more than enough domestic trouble that can keep them all busy. I know my memory is bad but I can't name one country that has put on trial anyone who has maimed or killed our Militry yet, we put our own in Prison for crimes while under fire.

EZOB

Dead-definition---no longer living, without life--does it matter how they died?
In Vietnam we used artillery (105-155-175), mortars, air strikes, bombs, claymores, white phospforous, m-16 (5.56), m-14, m-60 machine guns but weren't suppose to use a 50 caliber on personnel (Rules of engagement). Also, NATO rounds had very bullets, no hollow points were used. Now give me the rational of a country that can drop an atomic bomb but ridicule another country on it use of weaponry. I was all for the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hanoi especially while Jane Fonda was visiting.

red white and blue

Ezob I like the way u think and I WISH there was a LIKE button and a share button for your comments .this use to be a proud nation now we are a laughing joke instead of doing for ourselfs we are sticking our nose in everyone else's problems.

red white and blue

At the rate we are going to have every coutry over here attacking us