Lawsuit by lawmakers debated
War powers & Libya:
Turner vs. Kucinich
WALL news and commentary
“We are not engaged in war in Libya,” said Prof. Robert Turner, echoing President Obama’s position, in an informal debate concerning a lawsuit by ten congressmen against Obama and his Libya operation. It’s just a limited peace action under the United Nations, rightfully authorized by the president, according to Turner, an attorney in Reagan’s White House and co-founder of the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security.
“I ask you,” countered Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio), the lead plaintiff in the suit, “if another country sent 2,000 … missions over the United States and some of those missions dropped bombs on us, would that be an act of war against the United States? … That’s exactly what we’ve done in Libya.”
U.S.and NATO forces have heavily bombed Tripoli and other Libyan communities from the air, admittedly killing civilians and even some rebels along with loyalist forces. The U.S. is reported to have Army Special Operations troops and CIA agents on the ground, helping Libyan rebels with combat operations. The objective appears to be regime change.
Turner and Kucinich appeared on the syndicated program “Democracy Now” on radio and television on June 16, the day after the suit was filed by both Republican and Democratic House members in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The ten seek to end combat in Libya, which began in March, holding that it has violated both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, inasmuch as Congress never authorized it.
Going beyond Libya, the plaintiffs challenge the administration’s policy of ordering men into combat without the advance approval of Congress and a policy that says the authority of the UN and NATO are enough. They further challenge the financing of unauthorized warfare with funds that Congress previously appropriated for other purposes. They ask for both “injunctive and declaratory relief to protect the Plaintiffs and the country.” The suit targets Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, along with President Barack Obama.
Besides Kucinich, the plaintiffs are Democratic representatives Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts and John Conyers of Michigan and the following Republican representatives: Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Dan Burton of Indiana, Howard Coble of North Carolina, John J. Duncan, Jr. of Tennessee, Timothy V. Johnson of Illinois, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, and Dr. Ron Paul of Texas. Their legal staff is a six-member team headed by Prof. Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School. Judge Reggie Walton was scheduled to hear the case.
Here are some of Turner’s ideas, followed by WALL’s comments. Then come excerpts from the transcript of the broadcast.
TURNER: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DECLARE WAR, A FORMALITY ASSIGNED TO CONGRESS, AND MAKE WAR, WHICH THE PRESIDENT DECIDES.
Declare war has had the meaning commence war since at least the 16th century.
“Contemporary usage makes it clear that the language ‘Congress shall have the power … to declare war’ gave to Congress the exclusive right to initiate war,” Professors Francis D. Wormuth (deceased) and Edwin B. Firmage of the University of Utah wrote in their landmark book, To Chain the Dog of War: The War Power of Congress in History and Law (1986). They quote, among others, (pp. 20-21):
<![if !supportLists]>· Huloet’s dictionary of 1552, in which “Declare warres” meant both to summon to arms and to announce war.
<![if !supportLists]>· Chancellor James Kent, of New York, a respected jurist in the early days of the nation, who, following established usage, “interpreted declare to mean commence.“
<![if !supportLists]>· Alexander Hamilton, who spoke of Congress as “that department which is to declare or make war.”
<![if !supportLists]>· Justice William Paterson of the Supreme Court who wrote in United States vs. Smith (1806) that when we go to war with a nation at peace with us, “it is the exclusive province of congress to change a state of peace into a state of war.“
TURNER: YOU DECLARE WAR ONLY WHEN LAUNCHING AN ALL-OUT WAR.
A limited war with France, authorized by Congress, raged from 1798 to 1801. Among resulting court decisions were these::
<![if !supportLists]>· In Bas vs. Tingy (1800) the Supreme Court said it was for Congress alone to authorize either an “imperfect” (limited) war or a “perfect” (general) war. Justice Bushrod Washington observed that Congress had authorized the former: It discontinued trade and a treaty with France, built and equipped warships, and had them and private vessels attack and capture French warships.
<![if !supportLists]>· Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Talbot vs. Seeman (1801), “The whole powers of war being, by the Constitution of the United States, vested in Congress, the act of that body can alone be resorted to as our guides in this enquiry…. Congress may authorize general hostilities … or partial war….”
Limited wars, all authorized by Congress, also involved Tripoli, 1802; Spain, in West Florida, 1810; Algiers, 1815; and Germany and Italy, in the Lend-Lease Act, June 1941 (all cited in Wormuth and Firmage, pp. 61-63).
TURNER: THE WAR POWERS RESOLUTION ENCROACHES ON PRESIDENTIAL POWER.
That is a typical view of constitutional revisionists, who ignore the mass of evidence that the Constitution’s founders intended Congress to have the exclusive power to initiate war. In January 2007 at a hearing of the Senate Constitution subcommittee, Turner said, "In the conduct of war, in the conduct of foreign affairs, the president is in fact the decider." He was affirming George W. Bush’s claim of unbridled war power when the latter said, "I’m the decider."
If anything, the War Powers Resolution,of 1973, probably has unconstitutional provisions insofar as it purports to qualify the constitutional war power of Congress.
For decades, news media have perpetuated the erroneous belief that the War Powers Resolution permits a president to wage any war he wants for 60 days. But how could a mere statute take precedence over the Constitution, the nation’s supreme law? It does not. The resolution itself says, in Section 8 (d), that nothing in it is intended to alter the constitutional authority of Congress or the president or grant him any new authority.
Writers have usually ignored Section 2(c). It says that the president’s constitutional power to introduce armed forces into hostilities or situations of imminent hostilities is exercised only pursuant to:
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
None of those three conditions preceded the attack on Libya. Congress had not approved it and Libya had not attacked anything belonging to the United States. Yet Obama called it “consistent” with the War Powers Resolution.
The only military action that a president could initiate in conformity with 2 (c) would be repelling a major attack. Then, under other provisions, he would then need to report his action to the House and Senate within 48 hours. Within 60 days after that (whether or not he has made the report), he would have to terminate the military action, unless Congress:
(1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces,
(2) has extended by law such sixty day period, or
(3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States.
The 60 days are extended by 30 days if the president determines and certifies to Congress that unavoidable military necessity regarding the safety of the forces requires their continued use in the course of removing them. None of those congressional events followed even 92 days after the March 19, 2011, attack on Libya. Yet Obama’s war rages on.
Those provisions are almost academic. The last real national emergency created by a military attack on the U.S. came on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Hawaii. Even then, the president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, did not wage war before asking Congress for a declaration of war on Japan.
Although the Constitution’s founders contemplated that a president might repel a sudden military attack, would it take 60+ days — let alone 90+ days — to do so? Except for that circumstance, they did not intend to allow the executive even one day of war making without the prior approval of Congress. (In http://warandlaw.org, see “The Founding Fathers on the Constitution’s War Power”; “Modern Commentators on the Constitution’s War Power”; and “Court Rulings Affirming the War Power of Congress.”)
TURNER: LIBYA IS A UN ACTION FOR PEACE, WHICH OBAMA MUST CARRY OUT.
The United Nation’s primary purpose is “to maintain international peace and security.“ The Libya strife was intranational, i.e., a civil war, until the U.S. and NATO made it an international war by invading the country. The Charter does not authorize intervention in domestic affairs. Chapter 7, to which Turner referred repeatedly, deals only with measures for “international“ peace and security.
Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011), used as an excuse for the war, says nothing of war. It demands a cease-fire, measures to protect civilians, and no flights except for humanitarian purposes. Yet U.S.-NATO planes have made constant bombing raids, killing Libyan civilians.
The Council did not try to seek a solution by any of a variety of peaceful means (Article 33, Charter); or wait for an investigation of the facts (Article 34); or call on the parties—not just one party—to comply with provisional measures (Article 40). It did impose sanctions (Article 41), but against just one party—whose downfall Obama was advocating. (The two foregoing sentences are from the April 18 article on Libya at http://warandlaw.org, in particular the section “UN and international peace.“)
There is nothing in the Constitution that forces a president to make war at the bidding of any foreign or international organization. The United Nations Participation Act, enacted in 1945, authorized (but did not require) the president to negotiate an agreement with the Security Council to supply armed forces for military action ordered by the Council. The agreement, but not each military act, must be confirmed by Congress under the act. This was arguably an unconstitutional delegation of congressional power, but anyway no president has chosen yet to negotiate such an agreement. See also the last paragraph below.
TURNER: ‘’NEITHER VIETNAM NOR KOREA WERE PRESIDENTIAL WARS.’’
“President Harry Truman went to war against North Korea in 1950 without asking Congress for authority. Since that time, presidents regularly have used military force by relying on what they regard as independent and self-sufficient sources of authority, especially the commander-in-chief clause. These assertions of political power have no legal foundation’’ (Louis Fisher, senior specialist in separation of powers, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, in National Law Journal, 6/19/95, pp. 21-22). Truman claimed he sent troops under the authority of a UN Security Council vote. But he acted before the UN did. Besides, the U.S. had never made any agreement with the Council to supply troops.
President Lyndon Johnson lied that North Vietnamese boats had attacked two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin on Aug. 4, 1964. No one asked what the destroyers were doing there, but they were gathering information on North Vietnamese defenses in preparation for a possible attack on them. Using the imaginary attack as an excuse, he launched bombing raids on the latter’s naval installations. Then he got Congress to OK a vague resolution based on his lies, approving and supporting “the determination of the president, as commander in chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.’’ Before its passage, he said he didn’t need it; afterwards, he used it to justify his actions. He ran for a second term promising peace but instead sent half a million men to Indochina; 58,000 died there. Richard Nixon succeeded Johnson by hinting that he would end the war. He did not; he expanded it. Congress ended it, cutting off all funds in 1973.
Once a president initiates a war, it is difficult for a politician to go against “the troops.’’ Court rulings holding that Congress approved such wars through appropriations or other support for armed forces led to this provision in the War Powers Resolution, 8 (a): In the absence of specific war legislation, congressional authorization for the introduction of forces into hostilities may not be inferred from any appropriation, or legislation, or treaty.
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‘Democracy Now,’ 6/16/11 (excerpts):
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to the war in Libya and the intensifying debate in Washington over the legality of the war. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 10 members of Congress sued President Obama for violating the War Powers Resolution by failing to obtain congressional approval for the Libya operation after 60 days. The lawsuit was filed one day after the Republican-controlled House passed a measure that would bar funding for the U.S. role in the attack on Libya.
On Wednesday, the White House responded to the criticism by issuing a 38-page report that argued the War Powers Resolution does not apply because the U.S. role in Libya is limited, and thus does not require congressional approval. The report asserts, quote, "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops," unquote.
During a news conference on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney warned members of Congress not to send mixed messages about the U.S. military efforts in Libya.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: We believe that the support for the overall mission, the support for the goal of protecting Libyan civilians and holding Colonel Gaddafi accountable, will continue. It is support that we’ve had from Congress in the past, and we expect it to continue, because now is not the time to send mixed messages, as we’ve had the success that we’ve had in that mission.
AMY GOODMAN: … Why have you sued President Obama?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Because his actions taking the United States into war against Libya were in violation of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which makes it very clear, right from the foundation of this country, that Congress has the power to declare war. And the President did not go to Congress for this action against Libya. We are attempting to correct an imbalance that has occurred, not only during this administration, but over the years, where executives have appropriated for themselves the war power without checking with Congress. And, of course, in our lawsuit we also address the War Powers Act, which the President is in violation of. And we also state that neither the approval of NATO nor the U.N. Security Council supersedes the Constitution of the United States. And finally, Amy, where’s this money coming from? Who’s paying for this? There’s been no appropriation for Libya. We need to get some answers on that, as well.
… This is a nonpartisan issue that relates to the imperative of our Constitution to be able to withstand the buffeting that happens from both directions, left and right. This coalition, made up of members—Walter Jones, who is a Republican from North Carolina, who started off in favor of the war in Iraq and has become a very strong supporter not only of withdrawing our troops from these areas, but also a strong supporter of the constitutional imperative to have Congress involved in this decision making; Ron Paul is very involved in this; Dan Burton; John Conyers, who’s the former chair of the Judiciary Committee and a Democrat from Michigan. We have a coalition that includes Mike Capuano from—a Democrat from Massachusetts. It’s a coalition that’s as broad as this country, and it’s a coalition that is quite diverse politically.
And I think that needs to be said, because it points to the fact that there’s growing opposition in this country not simply to the war in Libya, but there’s growing opposition to the United States inserting itself, alone or with NATO, as kind of a global cop, while our priorities here at home are getting ignored. And that’s something that needs to be said right now. With 14 million Americans out of work, with 50 million Americans still without decent health care, with so many Americans losing their jobs and their retirement security, with people not being able to send their children to the schools they envisioned they’d be able to send them to, with our environment deteriorating, we are still prosecuting wars and trying to play global cop.
I mean, there’s other issues here, but I’m—in the court, though, we’re focusing very sharply on this issue of what Article I, Section 8, really means. And I’m hopeful that if we get standing, we’ll be able to create a classic resetting of the pointer, as far as rebalancing the power relationships in this country that have gone askew since executives have been appropriating the war power.
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ROBERT TURNER: President Obama’s position is absolutely clear: we are not engaged in war in Libya, and thus, if the War Powers Resolution were constitutional, it still would not apply. On August 17th, 1787, James Madison introduced an amendment in the Constitutional Convention that changed the power to be given in Congress from the power to make war to the power to declare war. That was a term from the Law of Nations. It was understood by all of the publicists who wrote about, by Grotius, Vattel, men whose writings were cited by the Founding Fathers that you only declare war when you were launching an all-out, what today we would call an aggressive war. That kind of war has been outlawed. No country has declared war since the U.N. Charter went into force in 1945. That clause is as much an anachronism today as the power given to Congress, in the same sentence, to grant letters of marque and reprisal, which were outlawed in 1856 in the Pact of Paris.
I’ve been writing about this since the War Powers Resolution went into force. I worked in the Senate for the first five years. I served as acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs during the Reagan administration. And just in 19-–sorry, in 2008, we had a national bipartisan War Powers Commission, that included Lee Hamilton, Slade Gorton and a number of other congressional liberals, former congressional liberals. They unanimously said the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional. George Mitchell, former majority leader, on May 19th, 1988, said on the Senate floor that the War Powers Resolution brings Congress into force short of war, expanding its power into the power of the president. It is true the War Powers Resolution tries to control this, but as Chief Justice John Marshall told us in perhaps the most famous Supreme Court case of all, Marbury v. Madison, "an act of the legislature, repugnant to the Constitution, is void." If it’s void, it’s not law. If it’s not law, the president has no duty to see it faithfully executed.
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REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I would like to ask Mr. Turner if he’s read the filing.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you read the filing?
ROBERT TURNER: I glanced through the filing. This is political theater. The congressman certainly knows, because he was involved in the Campbell lawsuit during the Kosovo operation, and he knows from history that back during Vietnam the courts always dismiss these suits for lack of standing. The Article III of the Constitution—
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I—you know, I beg—
ROBERT TURNER:—requires a case or controversy.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I beg the gentleman’s pardon. I take an oath to defend the Constitution. This isn’t theater. I was the second person on that complaint that Congressman Campbell filed in 1999. I see this as a serious question of whether or not the Founders intended the power to declare war to reside in the legislative branch. Did they really mean it when they wrote that in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11? Or did they mean, when they went to the—to Article II of the Constitution and called the president the commander-in-chief, that he could summon forth the troops without the ability—or without having to go to Congress? Our lawsuit is attempting to establish that, once and for all, that Congress does have the sole power to declare war.
The War Powers Act, you know, we may—there may—I’m not going to say there’s no debate about the War Powers Act. We include that in our filing. And the gentleman who has written extensively about it is aware of the defects of the War Powers Act. We’re trying to get some clarification from a court on that. But I will say, if we are able to get standing on this, if the court will go beyond what the Supreme Court did in 1999 in saying that, you know, this was just a political question and dismissing it, and saying Congress ultimately has the power of the purse—if we get beyond that and go to the real deep meaning of Article I, Section 8, we may see a whole new day here, where no executive will in the future will be able to go and declare war without checking with Congress. The Founders were very clear about not wanting the power of war to be put in the hands of an executive solely. And so, they balanced it by making sure that Article I, Section 8, defined that Congress has this power.
Now, one more thing. The gentleman said it’s not a war. Now, I ask you, if another country sent 2,000 planes over our—missions over the United States, and some of those missions dropped bombs on us, would that be an act of war against the United States? Because that’s exactly what we’ve done in Libya.
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ROBERT TURNER: Well, you’re missing a number of—you’re missing a number of things. First, the Founding Fathers understood the concept of force short of war. When Thomas Jefferson was president, at his first cabinet meeting on March 15th, 1801, he and his cabinet members decided to send two-thirds of the American Navy halfway around the known world to the Mediterranean, with instructions that if, upon arrival, they found the Barbary powers had declared war on the United States, they were to so disperse the force under their command to sink, burn and destroy their ships wherever they found them. The fleet sailed on June 1st. On December 8th, Jefferson finally reported it to Congress. No one in Congress complained the president had acted improperly.
Remember, you keep saying this is a NATO operation. This is an operation under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Security Council. When the Senate passed or consented to the ratification of the U.N. Charter in 1945, their unanimous report said the use of American forces to carry out a Chapter 7 decision of the Security Council would not be an act of war, but an act for preserving the peace, and therefore, would not affect the exclusive power of Congress to declare war. When the U.N. Participation Act was before the Senate in December of 1945, Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana introduced an amendment that provided that the president could not send U.S. military forces to carry out a Chapter 7 decision of the Security Council without first getting the approval of Congress by joint resolution in the specific case where the Security Council wanted to act. That was defeated by more than a seven-to-one majority, getting fewer than 10 votes, and leaders of both parties said this violates the obligation we have made under the U.N. Charter to assist in the keeping of peace.
And remember, you talk about the president’s duty to see the laws faithfully executed. In Article VI of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause says this Constitution, laws made pursuant to the Constitution and treaties made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land. The president has a power and a duty to carry out the international obligations of the United States under treaties. So, this is not a new issue.
You know, neither Vietnam nor Korea were presidential wars. We can talk about that if you would like. In Korea, Truman repeatedly asked to go to a joint session of Congress and actually had the State Department draft what today we would call an authorization to use military force. And members of Congress, he personally consulted, repeatedly. Members of Congress said, "Stay away from Congress. You’ve got the power to do this under the Constitution and the Charter." In Vietnam, Congress passed a statute, an AUMF, by a 99.6 margin, percent margin, authorizing the president to use force. During that debate, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman J. William Fulbright was asked, "Are we giving the president authority that could lead into war?" He said, "That is the way I would interpret it." So, you know, it is a myth—it was a popular myth that gave Congress cover, when the people turned against the war, to suggest that Congress was not a full partner in getting us into Vietnam.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting that we have a Reagan attorney who is defending President Obama right now, and we have Dennis Kucinich, one of the most progressive members of Congress, who is suing the President of the United States, who happens to be a Democratic president. But I wanted to go back to Wednesday’s White House press briefing. Secretary Jay Carney was questioned about President Obama’s stance on the War Powers Act.
REPORTER: You’re probably familiar with the quote from Candidate Obama in December 2007 in response to a questioner from the Boston Globe, I believe it was: "History has shown"—I’m quoting—"History has shown us time and time again, however, that military action is most successful when it’s authorized and supported by the legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action." My question is, in compliance with the War Powers Resolution, will the President begin withdrawal of American forces in the action against Libya this weekend after the 90-day period is up?
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: Well, first of all, as you know, there are no forces to withdraw from Libya. Let’s just make that clear. Secondly, the President has acted in a manner that is consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I will point you to, not being a lawyer, to the legal analysis that will be part of the packet of information provided to Congress this afternoon.
REPORTER: Can I point to one specific point, please? The time line, the 60-day time line—
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: Again, you’re talking about the War Powers—
REPORTER: There’s no congressional resolution in support of this military action.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: You’re talking about the War Powers Resolution. You’re talking about a constitutional debate that has existed in this country for a long, long time, volumes of which have been written about.
REPORTER: The President supports the War Powers Resolution.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: And the—and the reasoning that we have put forward will appear and is being provided to Congress about why he has acted in a manner that’s consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I don’t want to get into that here. I will point you to the analysis written by actual attorneys and not just ones who play them on TV.
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REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I thought it was interesting that he said that we have "no forces to withdraw." Those were his exact words. Yet, The Guardian U.K., if you go to their website and you look at their data that they’ve assembled, pursuant to their study of all the different nations that have played a role in this attack on Libya, the United States has 8,507 personnel of 12,909 involved in the Libyan mission; 153 of 309 aircraft; sorties that have been flown, which include parts of bombing raids, 2,000 of 5,857 raids; 228 of 246 cruise missiles fired by the U.S. Now, these were figures that were as of May 5th. To say that we don’t—as Mr. Carney said, that we don’t have any forces to withdraw is mystifying. I hope he wasn’t being disingenuous. I hope that he understands that we are, according to the administration’s own reports, on target to spend over a billion dollars in this war against Libya.
I also want to point out that when he says that they’re consistent with the War Powers Act, if you—if they recognize the War Powers Act, then at the outermost marker, they’re in violation by the end of this week. If they don’t recognize the War Powers Act, then that’s the reason why we’re in court, to see if the War Powers Act is viable at all anymore. That is a—that’s a legal question. But beyond the statutory questions here, there’s a constitutional question. And I would just like to say to the professor, with all due respect—and I suppose that you probably know more about these issues than most people, because you’ve written books about it—that there is nowhere in the Constitution where it says that our treaty obligations trump bedrock constitutional principles, which are enshrined in Article I, Section 8, with respect to the role of the Congress, established in Article I, first among equals, to declare war. We do not give up our congressional right, as determined by the Founders, who wrote that in there, that the Congress shall have the power to declare war. We don’t give that right up simply because we have assumed obligations under Chapter 7. The U.N. Security Council and our obligations under NATO do not trump the Constitution of the United States. And that’s the point we’re trying to make in going in with this lawsuit, which I hope that the gentleman will have a chance to study, because you may see that if we are able to get standing, that this suit will have the potential for being able to reset the imbalance which has occurred on this question of the war power.
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ROBERT TURNER: Let me, almost as a point of personal privilege, emphasize I’m not defending President Obama, nor am I attacking him. I’m defending the Constitution, as it’s been understood for years. I would say, in the defense of the White House spokesman, that he did not say "withdraw U.S. forces." He said, "withdraw U.S."—he said we have no forces in Libya, which is not the same thing as having forces taking part in this U.N. operation.
I certainly agree with the congressman that neither the U.N. Charter nor any other treaty can trump the Constitution. The problem is, the Constitution gives Congress a narrow negative on the general executive control of external relations. A declaration of war was understood to be an all-out war—today, an illegal war—operating under the unanimous—reports of both the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committees acknowledged that the president was authorized to implement our obligations under the Charter, and they don’t affect the power of Congress to declare war. You know, obviously, there’s a big difference between the U.N. Security Council acting under Chapter 7, authorizing the use of force to deal with a threat to the peace, and some other country launching thousands of planes against us without cause.
You know, but one other point is very important. The White House keeps saying, "Oh, you’re going to undermine our operation. You’re going to encourage the enemy." I was—followed very closely the 1983 debates on the Beirut deployment, and I watched as members of Congress, in a very partisan way—I think two Democrats in the Senate voted to support President Reagan on this multilateral deployment. And at the end of it, or during the hearings, P.X. Kelley, the commandant of the Marine Corps, went to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and pleaded with them that their partisan debate was endangering the lives of our Marines. And now, Vice President Joe Biden got up on the 29th of September, 1983, in the Senate debate, floor debate, and he said, "You’ve all heard that by even having this debate we’re endangering our Marines. Well, that may be true, but we’ll never know until we have one of these debates." On October 23rd, terrorists—or shortly thereafter, we intercepted a message between two of the radical Islamic terrorist groups saying, "If we kill 15 Marines, the rest will go home, or the rest will leave." And on the 23rd of October, early morning on Sunday, a terrorist bomb killed 241 Marines. Why did that happen? Normally you don’t want to kill American Marines, because by morning a lot more will be there with a real bad attitude. But in this case, Congress had inadvertently put a bounty on the lives of those Marines by saying—in fact, Chuck Percy, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, actually said, "We’re not washing our hands. We’ve authorized this for 18 months. If there are any more casualties, we can reconsider this vote* at any time." And it was right after that that the terrorists said, "Let’s kill 15 Marines. The rest will go." They killed 241. And I place a large deal of blame for that right on the foot of a partisan United States Congress.
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: … Historians should be very careful about putting blood on anybody’s hands.