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Signed, signed, everything is signed...

Yesterday Captain Ed discussed the possibility of Congress repealing its Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, essentially un-declaring the war and forcing an end to our involvement. The question the good captain brings up is an interesting one: can Congress do this on its own, or must it submit it to President Bush for his approval (or, more realistically, his veto)?

This sort of thing was the crux of a couple of technothrillers I read a few years ago, "Balance Of Power" and "The Price Of Power." I know it's an odd place to get information, but several very fascinating Constitutional issues were raised and explored -- including the issue of declaring war.

The Constitution is very clear: Congress has the sole power to declare war. Since it is an exclusive power of Congress, like impeachment, it can be argued that it does not need presidential approval.

That argument falls on two points, however. The first is Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution:

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Also rather inconvenient is that Congress submitted the AUMF to President Bush for approval, and he signed it. This is historically consistent; every other declaration of war has been approved by the president at the time. However, it makes it rather awkward for Congress to argue that it can repeal the AUMF all on its own, when less than five years ago they believed that it did need presidential approval.

On the other hand, though, I have to give the advocates of this move points for intellectual honesty. It's the most forthright, aboveboard, and principled approach around. I also think it would be a very bad move, but it would have the virtue of being legal and ethical.

Which is pretty much why I don't think that the Democrats will put very much effort behind it. They tend to flee from such decisive divisive stances. Instead, I expect they'll crank out more "non-binding resolutions" and half-assed measures designed to keep the issue front and center for the elections -- but not actually try to achieve anything.

After all, if they did something decisive, like the original vote for the AUMF back in 2002, they might have to explain it to the voters. Safer to just keep the arguments going, and hoping the polls keep coming up in their favor.

Of course, this means that the "illegal, immoral,and stupid" war they keep ranting about going, but the only really important thing is keeping the Democrats in office.


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Comments (23)

If they had the power to do... (Below threshold)
hermie:

If they had the power to do this with the war resolution, then they could just as easily repeal laws they previously passed without Presidential approval.

The founders gave the power... (Below threshold)
kim:

The founders gave the power to declare war to the legislature and the power to make war to the executive for one very simple reason. It is far easier to get into war, than to get out of it.
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Well if Bush wanted to get ... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Well if Bush wanted to get out of Iraq, but didn't want to damage his legacy or the Republican party then letting the Democrats undo the AUMF would play into his hands. Are the democrats that stupid?

The dimmers need to either ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The dimmers need to either authorize or unauthorize the war, the money or whatever. All I believe they can't do and shouldn't do is manage the war. That is clearly in the Presidents court. The dimmers have to show they have convictions and a belief in them. Of course I know they don't but we can hope. ww

Y'know, if I cared more abo... (Below threshold)
Who's John Galt?:

Y'know, if I cared more about politics than this country, I would gleefully welcome the repeal of the AUMF. But, I don't and I wouldn't.

Yes, Mac, they are being th... (Below threshold)
kim:

Yes, Mac, they are being that stupid. Hillary knows that unless it's over, the run-up to the war will be issue number one, and Bush's, and Congress's action was justified.

Maybe she's counting on their allies, radical Islam, playing possum next year.
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Seems to me we should all b... (Below threshold)

Seems to me we should all be writing our congresscritters encouraging them to vote for deauthorization. Then in the months or years it take the courts to sort things out W can go ahead and run the war however he pleases.

This is very much like the ... (Below threshold)
jpe:

This is very much like the President's approach to social security reform - keep talking until some kind of consensus builds, and then submit actual legislation (although he never got to that point, IRRC). And that seems to be a pretty standard operation for difficult issues.

Seem to me, if Congress pro... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

Seem to me, if Congress produces a bill, they've got to send it to the President...for veto or signing.

If they want to issue some king of statement, then they don't need to send it to the President. But that would be a statement, not a potential law.

Everybody! We're BUILDING M... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Everybody! We're BUILDING MILITARY BASES, thus we're staying. The Democrats are playing the cards they were dealt in the mid-term elections. Keeping up appearances on Iraq, balancing the far left and the swing voters with an eye on the White House.

The only geo-political strategizing, just below the surface, is Protect Israel. Oil is a distant second to that, and at the last AIPAC conference, ALL the players from BOTH sides of the isle were made to hew to the Plan: the Iran Option. Hence, the BASES, we're STILL BUILDING. (Remember, Osama said get out and stay out of Saudi Arabia, and we have; so much with the "dealing with terrorists" meme. So: we need a footprint on land because a fleet in the gulf is too vulnerable, as those pesky Chinese quiet diesel subs have amply demonstrated.)

Kim, todays news doesn't lo... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Kim, todays news doesn't look like the Islamic nuts are going to lay low, or these guys are simply nuts. That's the way I have it figured. Islam will lay low until they get a democrat in charge thinking, actually knowing, they will not be made to pay for any attacks. Then they can kill hundreds of thousands without fear. I have to believe the same thing.
America will never be able to defend itself nor win a war again. Congressional democrats mandated a loss in Vietnam after the war was won and are doing the same thing to Iraq. Millions of people dying mean nothing to them unless it's their family and maybe not even then. The enemies of freedom and christianity know this also. I trust no democrat politician with my safety at any time.

jpe, the majority of the citizens don't believe SS is failing and won't until the checks don't show up. They have been conned by the democrats and the antique MSM on SS as with most things that will eventually destroy the country.

Remember the energy bill submitted in early 2001, it hit the desk of Dead End Daschle and died? Now people are in a panic over lack of energy resources. Most times you pay for your stupidity as $5 a gallon gas in the near future will prove. Not to worry, the democrats and antique MSM (that haven't gone broke) are already on the con blaming the president because he didn't come over and shoot the congress critters blocking all development of energy sources.

If they want to is... (Below threshold)
jpe:
If they want to issue some king of statement, then they don't need to send it to the President. But that would be a statement, not a potential law.

The argument is that AUMFs don't require a Presidential signature, because of their functional equivalence to declarations of war (which don't require Presidential signatures). A power to undo a declaration is inherent in the power to declare war, and thus by the equivalence principle above, the Iraq AUMF can be unilaterally revoked by Congress.

Perhaps we should call this the Unitary Legislature Theory.

And, like the constitutional theories spun out by Bush's legal brain trust, it's pretty novel and dicey stuff.

It is discouraging, S, but ... (Below threshold)
kim:

It is discouraging, S, but the madness that is upon the Dems and the MSM is febrile, and unsustainable.
=================================

The Dems need the war on th... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

The Dems need the war on the table until about August of next year. If it ends before then, it's not a campaign issue in the fall. People will view it as ancient history, and not give a rat's ass about it. After that point, the Dems can crow about ending the war and take all the credit at the polls since it will still be fresh in people's minds.

The last thing that they really want is a quick ending to the war.

Of course we're building ba... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

Of course we're building bases. Why else do you take control of the most strategically important piece of real estate in the Middle East? DUH!

As <a href="http://www.nypo... (Below threshold)

As John Podhoretz explains in the New York Post, Hillary has no illusion her bill to repeal the AUMF would pass, and probably doesn't want it to pass anyway. She is only looking for some political cover to appease the Nutroots antiwar far left of the Demcoratic Party.

She can throw this bill out like red meat to the animals, knowing it has ZERO chance of passing, and less of taking effect even if it did.

Nice article, JA, but I dis... (Below threshold)
kim:

Nice article, JA, but I disagree in that I think both Bill and Hillary think going to war was the right thing to do. They both know from when they were in power, and from the case made by Duelfer and Rossett, that going after Saddam was the right thing to do, and I suspect the strongest case for that will be made by their opponent.

I'm pretty sure they are hoping it all goes away by then, and like John thinks, this was a tactic to be able to explain in retrospect that you tried to make it go away. Everyone in politics knows the public won't recognize the absurdity of the move, especially as she will be covered by the MSM, who will present it as innovative politicking.

Right, innovated by Stalin.
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JT:I have to g... (Below threshold)
marc:

JT:

I have to give the advocates of this move points for intellectual honesty. It's the most forthright, aboveboard, and principled approach around.

Doesn't that presuppose those that offer this bill are to dumb/stupid or too lazy to check the bill's Constitutionality?

bryanD[elusional]

Everybody! We're BUILDING MILITARY BASES, thus we're staying.

Japan, Germany, Korea, England, etc all have U.S. military bases.

So what, your point is?

The only geo-political strategizing, just below the surface, is Protect Israel. Oil is a distant second to that,

And this is a bad thing?

So: we need a footprint on land because a fleet in the gulf is too vulnerable, as those pesky Chinese quiet diesel subs have amply demonstrated.)

Setting aside for the moment your idiotic "vulnerable fleet" meme that is unsupportable and flat out wrong, please explain how any Iraqi U.S. bases in anyway fullfills the mission the U.S. and allied Nations navies if they didn't exist in the Gulf.

as those pesky Chinese quiet diesel subs have amply demonstrated.)

How many gulf countries own and operate Chinese Diesel subs? And more to the point why would you believe any Gulf country would be allowed to take possession of one?

Woof, read Palast on Hillar... (Below threshold)
kim:

Woof, read Palast on Hillary.
=================

The Dems are trying everyth... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

The Dems are trying everything they can think of to influence the President to change course in Iraq. Personally, I think this is one of the more lame ideas. I like the idea of funding the war until the end of Sept.

More and more conservatives are leaning towards deadlines. We have heard from Lott and Boner that measurable success is necessary by the fall. Even the NRO is picking-up the flag and waving.


Byron York: So maybe it's time for a deadline. Last October, about ten days before the election, I asked President Bush that question during an Oval Office meeting with conservative journalists:

QUESTION: Isn't the big problem with the Iraqis that they're so into brinksmanship, that the political breakthroughs we have are when we force deadlines on them, and that they let the deadlines pass and they wait until the train is about to hit them --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

http://corner.nationalreview.com/

How many gulf countries own... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

How many gulf countries own and operate Chinese Diesel subs? And more to the point why would you believe any Gulf country would be allowed to take possession of one?_marc"

China is providing off-the-shelf navies to Indonesia and offering the same (especially)to any muslim state in accord with China's EXTREMELY close relationship to Pakistan, which is in an arms race with India, and as part of China's 2050 Plan to break US hegemony in the Eastern Hemisphere (and beyond?) I wouldn't count out a post-Musharaff Pakistan with latest quiet subs. Might have them already.

As the Okinawa incident proved, our navy is very vulnerable. Free publicity for the Chinese arms industry followed by Pakistani senators visiting China. Celebrated their "never-ending" friendship.

As for what is "allowed" in the gulf? By us? Osama ran us out of Saudi Arabia. Technology is an equalizer. This isn't the Raj.

First of all dimbulb, Indon... (Below threshold)
marc:

First of all dimbulb, Indonesia isn't the Gulf, far from it. Shift the goalposts a third of the way around the globe why don't you... Oh wait you did.

Secondly Indonesia is considering getting subs from China, Russia or South Korea not just China.

To which I say SOOOO what, the discussion is on the Gulf.

I assume you refer to the Chinese Song-class sub that bird-dogged the U.S.S., Kitty Hawk, again so what it's not like similar things havn't happened before.

In 2004, a Han-class sub apparently cruised all the way to Guam, circled the island and then deliberately surfaced in Japanese territorial waters on the way back home.

You mention possible Chinese sales to Pakistan.... again your an asshat just a bit less so due to the proximty to the Gulf.

Pakistan is still far outside the Gulf and the chances of them or anyone else with hostile intentions getting thru the Straits of Hormuz (a very "choking" natural choke point) undetected are slim to none. (not to mention the Gulf has very few areas where a Sub can operate due to water depth that extremely limits their ability to remain unbdetected)

Question: Has Osama banned the U.S. Navy from operating in the Arabian gulf? And how would he do so if capable? I mean how does a terrorist ban someone, anyone from international waters?

And BTW you didn't explain your assertion on how any Iraqi U.S. bases in anyway fulfills the mission the U.S. and allied Nations navies if they didn't exist in the Gulf.

I await your loose change type answer with comical glee.

Jay,There is no se... (Below threshold)

Jay,

There is no serious argument that Congress has "plenary" power to declare or un-declare war. The power to declare war appears in Article I, Section 8, alongside all of the other enumerated Congressional powers. To argue that Congress has "plenary" power to declare or un-declare war is to argue that Congress has plenary power to do everything authorized in Article I, Section 8, which is nonsense. If Congress wants to un-declare war, the President has to sign the bill. Period.




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