USA Today reports: “President Obama spends Tuesday soliciting congressional support for expanded military action against the insurgent group known as the Islamic State.”
The Jacksonville Journal-Courier in Illinois reports today: “President Barack Obama’s plans to expand the U.S. military role against Islamic extremist groups could overstep his authority, according to a longtime Jacksonville congressman who helped write the law that keeps the president’s power in check.
“Obama is expected to announce plans this week to expand the military campaign against the Islamic State. According to the Wall Street Journal, that could include intensifying air attacks to target militant strongholds.
“Paul Findley of Jacksonville, who served in Congress from 1961 to 1983 and was a principal author of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, says the president could be usurping authority specifically given to Congress.
“‘President Obama stated on network television … that he ‘may’ have authority to order airstrikes in Syria. He does not. Moreover, bombing he ordered in recent days in Iraq by U.S. aircraft violated the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973,’ Findley said.”
Findley was a member of Congress from Illinois for 22 years. He is the author of six books including the bestseller They Dare to Speak Out. He resides in Jacksonville, Ill. The federal building in Springfield, Ill. is named for him.
He said today: “Our elected leaders are acting like jelly fish. Members of Congress must decide whether to bomb Iraq or Syria, or both. The president has no authority to bomb either country. He violates the Constitution with every bomb he sends to Iraq. Ordering acts of war is too serious a decision to leave to one man. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.
“We just marked the 50th Anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which I voted for and which President Johnson used to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War. I never intended that Resolution to be a blank check for war against Vietnam. Yet that is exactly what Johnson used it for.
“As a consequence, in 1973, I helped draft the The War Powers Resolution and my vote helped override President Nixon’s veto.
“Enforcement of limits on presidential employment of war powers deserves the vigilance of each member of Congress. Each member should consider enforcement a grave personal responsibility. War measures that today seem inconsequential can lead to larger involvements tomorrow. Their ultimate size and duration are unpredictable, as we found in our costly war experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Just recently, Congress stood by as the President ordered bombings in Iraq. Then two U.S. citizens were killed. Rather than using their deaths as a rallying cry for more war, they should be a warning of the negative consequences of war. It’s no accident that the framers deemed the decision of war-making too important to be made by one person.
“If the president orders acts of war in the absence of congressional approval, he risks impeachment by the House of Representatives for usurping a power the Constitution reserves exclusively to the Congress. If Obama wishes lawfully to order airstrikes in the territory of Iraq or Syria, he must first secure a resolution of approval from Congress.”