by Eric Blair
March 11, 2012
Impeachment proceedings begin in the
House and the Senate over Obama's brazen use of aggressive military
force without congressional authority.
Veterans for Peace and others have been calling for the
impeachment of the sitting president for war crimes.
After their demands to lawmakers to
rule of law against Bush were largely ignored (except by
Dennis Kucinich who
impeachment articles too late in 2008), they renewed their effort
to impeach Obama once he continued to bomb sovereign nations without
Now, some lawmakers seem to have finally decided to
take the rule of law and Separation of Powers seriously.
Obama will face impeachment over his failure to seek congressional
authorization before launching offensive military action in Libya last year.
impeachment proceedings have now been filed in both the House and
Last week, North Carolina Representative Walter Jones filed an
Impeachment Resolution in the House
"Expressing the sense of Congress that the
use of offensive military force by a President without prior and clear
authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high
crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution."
"Whereas the cornerstone of the Republic is honoring Congress’s
exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8, clause 11 of
Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the
Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that, except in
response to an actual or imminent attack against the territory of the
United States, the use of offensive military force by a President
without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress violates
Congress’s exclusive power to declare war under article I, section 8,
clause 11 of the Constitution and therefore constitutes an impeachable
high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the
Barack Obama becomes only the third
sitting president to face impeachment following Andrew Johnson and
Johnson was impeached for illegally dismissing
an office holder without the Senate's approval, and Clinton for perjury and
obstruction of justice. Both were acquitted by the Senate.
Significantly, President Obama faces much more serious charges than his
impeached predecessors and it's still unclear what legal defense he will use
to diffuse the charges as the legal basis for his unilateral action has been
inconsistent and vague from the beginning of
the Libya assault.
Prior to military operations in Libya, the Justice Department advised the
Administration on the legality of using unauthorized force in Libya in
14-page memo titled Authority to Use Military Force in Libya, which states
We conclude... that the use of military force
in Libya was supported by sufficiently important national interests to
fall within the President's constitutional power.
At the same time,
turning to the second element of the analysis, we do not believe that
anticipated United States operations in Libya amounted to "war" in the
constitutional sense necessitating congressional approval under the
Declaration of War clause.
The memo goes on explain why the alleged
situation on the ground in Libya was in U.S.'s national interest, cites
previous times when the U.S. military was deployed without congressional
approval and claims the mission was an international support mission with no
deployed ground troops to justify their conclusion.
However, in no way were national interests under an "imminent" threat by
hostilities in Libya as required by the War Powers Act, and supporting an
international mission is irrelevant to the Act.
Furthermore, Obama has
maintained the legal defense that American involvement fell short of
full-blown hostilities even after hostilities exceeded the 90-day limit of
unauthorized use of force afforded under the War Powers Act.
The New York Times
quotes directly from
the 32-page report Obama sent to
concerned lawmakers after the 90-day deadline passed,
“U.S. operations do not
involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces,
nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”
Therefore, the Administration claims it wasn't a real military conflict that
Congress should concern itself with.
However, at the same time, the White
House acknowledged that the cost to U.S. taxpayers was well over $1 billion
for these non-hostile military activities.
Coincidentally, on the same day the impeachment resolution was filed,
Obama's Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that the Libya War did
indeed constitute military combat, but claimed the legal basis for spending
U.S. tax dollars on war rested in "international permission":
This impeachment comes on the heals of other
Administration officials giving equally flimsy legal justifications for
assassinating U.S. citizens without due process.
Where, also last week,
Attorney General Holder
sought to clarify this tyrannical authority in a speech at Northwestern
University by claiming "judicial process" was not the same as "due process"
under the Constitution.
Yet, the Fifth Amendment clearly states,
"No person shall be held to answer
for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or
indictment of a Grand Jury."
Wikipedia defines due process:
Due process is the legal requirement that
the state must respect all of the legal rights that are owed to a
person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects
individual persons from it.
When a government harms a person without
following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due-process
violation, which offends against the rule of law.
The Obama Administration has clearly "offended
against the rule of law," and it appears his only defense lies in somehow
changing the definition of words.
It's not a strong legal position to be in
and it seems that, for the first time in history, a sitting president may be
held accountable for high crimes and misdemeanors.