American Civil Liberties Union & CREDO – 2011-05-20 20:01:06
Coalition Memo to the House Committee on Armed Services Regarding a Proposed New Declaration of War
American Civil Liberties Union (http://www.aclu.org)
WASHINGTON (May 18, 2011) — Congress may soon vote on a new declaration of worldwide war without end, and without clear enemies. A “sleeper provision” deep inside defense bills pending before Congress could become the single biggest hand-over of unchecked war authority from Congress to the executive branch in modern American history.
President Obama has not sought new war authority. In fact, his administration has made clear that it believes it already has all of the authority that it needs to fight terrorism.
But Congress is considering monumental new legislation that would grant the president — and all presidents after him — sweeping new power to make war almost anywhere and everywhere. Unlike previous grants of authority for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the proposed legislation would allow a president to use military force wherever terrorism suspects are present in the world, regardless of whether there has been any harm to US citizens, or any attack on the United States, or any imminent threat of an attack.
The legislation is broad enough to permit a president to use military force within the United States and against American citizens. The legislation contains no expiration date, and no criteria to determine when a president’s authority to use military force would end.
Of all of the powers that the Constitution assigns to Congress, no power is more fundamental or important than the power “to declare War.” That is why, in 2002, when Congress was considering whether to authorize war in Iraq, it held fifteen hearings, and passed legislation that cited specific harms, set limits, and defined a clear objective.
Now, Congress is poised to give unchecked authority to the executive branch to use military force worldwide, with profoundly negative consequences for our fundamental democratic system of checks and balances. Once Congress expands the president’s war power, it will be nearly impossible to rein it back in. The ACLU strongly opposes a wholesale turnover of war power from Congress to the president — and all of his successors.
Do We Really Want to Give
The Next President Bush the Right
To Wage War Without End?
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager / CREDO Action from Working Assets
“Of all of the powers that Article I of the Constitution assigns to Congress, no power is more fundamental or important than the power to declare war.
We urge you to use this power carefully, and to oppose this wholesale turnover of war power, without any checks — and without even holding a single hearing.”
(May 20, 2011) — It was bad enough that George W. Bush dragged us into a disastrous war in Iraq when he was president. But what if he’d had sweeping powers during his administration to make war anywhere in the world without the consent of Congress? It’s what Dick Cheney dreamed of, and it’s on the verge of becoming an all-too-real nightmare.
Congress will soon vote on a “sleeper provision” hidden inside defense legislation currently pending before Congress. If passed it would be what the ACLU describes as “the single biggest grant of unchecked war authority from Congress to the executive branch in modern American history.”
Tell Congress: Don’t give unchecked power to wage war without end to future presidents, including the next President Bush! Clicking here will automatically sign your name to our petition.
In the Senate this legislation is being advanced by Sen. John McCain and in the House by Rep. Buck McKeon.
The proposed legislation would allow the president to use military force anywhere in the world where terrorism suspects are purported to be present, even if no U.S. citizen has been harmed, the United States has not been attacked or is not under threat of attack.
The legislation would even allow the president to use military force within the U.S. against American citizens.
These are not provisions sought by President Obama who has made it clear that the executive branch already has the tools it needs to fight terrorism at home and abroad.
Tell Congress: Don’t give unchecked power to wage war without end to future presidents, or the right to use the military against citizens on American soil. Clicking here will automatically sign your name to our petition.
The power to declare war is clearly assigned to Congress in the Constitution. Even during the rush to war back in 2002, Congress held fifteen hearings, and passed legislation that cited specific harms, set limits, and defined an objective, before authorizing war.
If Congress expands the president’s power to wage war without checks from the legislative branch, it will be nearly impossible to rein it back in. No president — current or future — should have the right to wage war with no mechanism other than the ballot box to ensure accountability.
Tell Congress: Don’t give up your Constitutional power to authorize war. Clicking here will automatically sign your name to our petition.
After the September 11th attacks, Congress launched a rollback of our civil liberties that is still largely intact despite the election of a new president. Authoritarian powers once given over are much harder to take back. That’s why we must soundly defeat this legislation before it ever has the chance of going into effect.
P.S. CREDO Action joined the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights and anti-war groups in sending a letter opposing this legislation to the members of the House Committee on Armed Services.
You can read that letter by clicking here.