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Obama May Be Walking Into an Impeachment Trap

Posted on Aug 30, 2013
Beth Rankin (CC BY 2.0)

By Kevin Zeese, PopularResistance

This article originated with PopularResistance.org.

The irony of the Obama presidency may hinge on whether he attacks Syria. He began his presidency prematurely winning the Nobel Peace Prize and could end it being impeached for starting an illegal war without congressional or UN approval – violating both domestic and international law.

Yesterday 163 Members of Congress sent letters to President Obama telling him that under the US Constitution he is required to get congressional approval before beginning a military attack. The letter drafted by Rep. Scott Rigel (R-VA) had 140 signatures, 119 Republicans and 21 Dems.  Rep. Barbara Lee also circulated a letter that had 53 signers, that calls on the president to seek congressional approval.

The Rigel letter warned Obama that engaging in military action “would violate the Separation of Powers Clause that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.” They also note that the justification for war in Libya also violated the Constitution.  The Lee letter warns that “we all swore to uphold and defend” the Constitution; and that we should not engage in an “unwise war – especially without adhering to our own Constitutional requirements.” In their concluding paragraph they warn “Before weighing the use of military force, Congress must fully debate and consider the facts and every alternative . . .”

President Obama knows the limits of his powers.  In fact, if there is an impeachment proceeding his own words will be quoted. When he was running for president, Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

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Vice President Biden, in a 2007 campaign event in Iowa, went further, not only stating clearly that the president does not have unilateral power to conduct military attacks but threatening impeachment of President Bush if he did so.

The Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States was explicit calling on President Obama to seek congressional approval before going to war, noted that under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution, it is the Congress that determines whether the United States goes to war. They also highlight the potential of impeachment writing: “If President Obama launches an attack without prior explicit authorization by Congress, he will have committed an offense worthy of impeachment.” [Disclosure, I serve as Attorney General in the alternative cabinet.]

If impeachment proceedings are held all of the doubts about the war will come out. People in the military have protected themselves by telling President Obama that they have serious doubts about a military attack. The have warned Obama about potential blowback, misusing the military to send a message with no clear strategy, drawing the US into a vexing war when they are already burdened by a complicated withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some have used words like “potentially devastating consequences” Reportedly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, has warned in great detail about the risks and pitfalls of U.S. military intervention in Syria, warning “deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

If the war goes wrong, and wars almost always go wrong, President Obama will see the memorandums of various members of the military who warned him.  And, they will be called to testify and tell the world that President Obama was warned but went ahead anyway – without congressional approval in violation of the Constitution.

What could go wrong? Syria has the ability to defend itself and attack US military vessels. Iran and Russia have already indicated they will be drawn into the conflict. Threats of retaliation are already being made and troop movements are occurring. Russia is moving two additional naval ships, a missile cruiser and a large anti-submarine vessel, into the Mediterranean to strengthen its presence in case of a US attack. Russia and Saudi Arabia have exchanged threats over Syria.  Russia threatening an attack on Saudi Arabia if the US attacks Syria with President Putin ordering a “massive military strike” against Saudi Arabia in the event that the West attacks Syria.  Saudi Arabia is threatening Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia at the Olympics.

Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have threatened to retaliate against Israel and other US allies in the Middle East in the event of a US attack on Syria. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, told the Tasnim news website, that an attack on Syria “means the immediate destruction of Israel.”



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