MoveOn.org & David Swanson / David Swanson.org & The American Civil Liberties Union – 2018-04-21 00:25:30
Don’t Give Trump a Blank Check for Endless War
(April 20, 2018) — This is terrifying. A new Senate bill could give Donald Trump a blank check for global, endless war.
We’re talking about a president who just illegally bombed Syria, can’t wait to scrap the Iran deal, and is building more “usable” nukes. A president who is literally building a war cabinet. Congress should be taking urgent steps to restrict Trump’s war-making ability.
Instead, Senators Bob Corker and Tim Kaine’s proposed new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) would throw the doors wide open for Trump to declare more war. Wherever he wants. On whomever he wants.
And all Trump would need do is give Congress an FYI — no permission, no public vote, no oversight whatsoever.
The only good news here: This resolution hasn’t reached the Senate floor yet. So if we can alert our senators immediately that their constituents are unequivocally opposed to this bill, then we can block this horrifically dangerous piece of legislation. But we’ve got to act fast.
The Constitution is clear that only Congress can declare war — because Congress is accountable to constituents like us. But for years, Congress has ignored that responsibility, refusing to vote on wars from American support of Saudi brutality in Yemen to Trump’s illegal bombing of Syria last week.
What’s more, the President already has a massive blank check for war from Congress — the 2001 AUMF, which has been stretched to cover sixteen straight years of endless wars.
Now, this resolution would take a red pen to the Constitution and make Trump’s blank check for war nearly limitless. There aren’t words to describe how dangerous that would be under any president — but especially this one.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is reportedly voting on this blank check for war as early as next week. This is our best chance to kill this terrible bill. But we’ve got to drive pressure on the Senate immediately.
Earlier this year, our grassroots pressure forced the Senate to finally vote on America’s illegal war in Yemen. And when Senators voted the wrong way, we held them accountable. If the Senate passes this AUMF, they won’t have to face their constituents in that kind of sticky vote on war again.
ACTION: We can’t let them trade endless global war for holding onto their Senate seats. Tell the Senate: We’re watching. Vote No. Please oppose this dangerous resolution.
To: The United States Senate
The proposed new Corker-Kaine Authorization for the Use of Military Force is profoundly dangerous. This AUMF would give the president unlimited war-making authority and would violate the Constitution by abdicating Congress’ core responsibility over matters of war and peace.
Thank you for working for peace,
Mariam, Kate, Cassandra, and the Win Without War team
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
David Swanson / David Swanson.org
(April 20, 2018) — Today, April 20, 2018, Senator Tim Kaine told an audience at the University of Virginia that missiles into Syria were illegal because not authorized by Congress, leaving everyone to imagine Congress could have made such a thing legal.
Kaine gave a long speech on the legality of war without ever mentioning that it is illegal. So I asked him, and he admitted as much. He offered no way in which Congress could have made the missiles legal. He claimed wars are legal if a puppet “invites” you, a claim not supported by written law and not relevant to attacking Syria.
The fact is that the same line of text that gives Congress the war powers in the US Constitution also gives it the power to hire pirates — except that everybody admits you’re not supposed to do that.
War also was banned, first and in its entirety by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, second and with limited exceptions not met by any recent wars by the UN Charter, as I pointed out to Senator Kaine.
Kaine is to be applauded for opposing Pompeo and for opposing war on Yemen. I hope he will actively pursue THOSE causes. But promoting the idea that Congress has the power to legalize a crime, the greatest crime in the judgment of Nuremberg, is shameful.
In his remarks at the Miller-Center-sponsored event in the Rotunda on Friday, Kaine anti-democratically opposed war votes prior to elections, because popular opinion might have some influence.
He described non-state targets of US wars as not following the Geneva Conventions, as if that were a variation from what some other party does.
He said he wanted cyber attacks, including the attack on US elections of which he accuses Russia, treated as war.
He said that the United States today is closer than it’s been in 30 years or more to a war against a nation — as if Syria were not — as he admitted within 5 minutes — a nation, and as if Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya and Yemen did not at least used to be nations.
He said that he and John McCain had lifted their bill to unconstitutionally strip away the powers of the War Powers Act word-for-word from the work of the Miller Center. His new AUMF with Senator Corker is also by two people with ties to the Miller Center.
He said all of this matters because of the “troops,” with never a mention of the vast majority of the victims of US wars, who are the people who live where they are fought.
He claimed that Rep. Barbara Lee agrees with him, which was at least a stretch.
And he said of Trump’s recent attack on Damascus — and these are his exact words — “It’s illegal because he didn’t come to Congress.”
Forgive my American, but that is pure bull. Congress has no power to make such a thing legal. Senator Kaine needs to stop telling people it does.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.
Congress Could Give Trump the Tight to Wage Worldwide War
Chris Anders / The American Civil Liberties Union
(April 14, 2018) — If you’re concerned about President Trump’s reckless threats and unlawful firing of missiles in Syria, just imagine what he would do if Congress hands him a license to go to war wherever he wants and against anyone he thinks is an enemy, anywhere in the world. Basically, a blank check for worldwide war.
Sound terrifying? Well that’s exactly what Senator Bob Corker wants to do. He’s busily drafting a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that he will introduce in the next few days. We must make clear to Congress that we say no to worldwide war.
The checks and balances system ensures that going to war isn’t easy — that’s why Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the fundamental right to declare war, and forbids unilateral use of force except in self-defense in response to an attack on this country. But under Corker’s proposed AUMF, Congress would need a two-thirds majority in both houses to stop the president from going to war.
If enacted, the new AUMF would cause fundamental damage to the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights for generations to come. The president should never be able to declare war with a tweet — and then act on his own whim. But that’s exactly what the new AUMF could allow.
In the days after 9/11, Congress enacted an AUMF authorizing the president to use military force in Afghanistan against the perpetrators of the attacks. The following year, another AUMF gave the president the green light to invade Iraq. Both laws have been used to justify military action in places and against groups far removed from their original intent — and that’s illegal.
ACTION: With terrible violence and instability increasing throughout the world, the stakes are just too high to give Trump a blank check to wage war with the stroke of his pen — or tweet.
Thanks for speaking up.
Chris Anders is the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office Deputy Director.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.