Is It Illegal?

Guest submission by: Gene Brown

Regardless of my opinion on the constitutionality of the War Powers Act of 1973, (I do have reservations) it is the law of the land.  It will remain the law of the land until a new congress repeals it, which is very doubtful, or a president violates the law and congress takes him to court and the U S Supreme Court throws it out.

Today, a sitting president is in violation of that law.

Since its passage, over President Nixon’s veto, every president has complied with the limitations of the War Powers Act.  Rather than risk a showdown in the Supreme Court, presidents have supplied the information required by the act, but worded the submission as an informative courtesy.

Congress, not wishing to risk a showdown in the Supreme Court, has always authorized the requested presidential actions.

This time, the current president has decided that this particular law doesn’t apply to him, and has foolishly and arrogantly avoided complying with it.  His supporters have taken on the difficult task of parsing the word “hostilities.”

Ordering our naval fleet into the waters of a sovereign nation, and ordering our naval pilots to drop bombs on that same sovereign nation sounds very hostile to me!  In fact, those sailors and pilots are earning an extra, well-deserved $225 a month.  According to Charlie Savage of The New York Times, on June 23, 2011:

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the Defense Department had decided in April that service-members in Libyan airspace and in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya would receive an extra $225 a month because they were in “imminent danger.” The extra pay was retroactive to the start of the intervention in March.

Also the president decided to override the advice of members of the legal team whose job it is to keep him out of trouble.  Again, according to Mr. Savage on June 17, 2011:

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

President Obama has had a difficult time deciding which former president he wants to emulate. He has encouraged a comparison to President Franklin Roosevelt and even President Ronald Reagan.  I have compared his incompetence to President Jimmy Carter and applauded his continuation of President George W. Bush’s policies.
Unfortunately, President Obama now begs to be compared to one of the least admired presidents of my life time.  By placing himself above the law, President Obama is easily advancing his resemblance to the imperious President Richard Nixon.

One can almost hear a replay of that interview with David Frost when President Nixon famously says, “If the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

That’s my nickel.

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