Impeachment, Obama’s High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Last week Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced, H. Con. Res. 107, a resolution to impeach President Barack Obama should he decide to introduce U.S. troops in Syria. Rep. Jones also extended his promise to future presidents. According to his House website, he submitted language stating that should the Executive “initiate the use of offensive military force without prior and clear authorization through an Act of Congress, the action would constitute an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under Article II, Section IV of the Constitution,”
“The issue of presidents taking this country to war without congressional approval is one that I have long been concerned about,” said Rep. Jones. “Enough is enough. It is time this country upholds the Constitution and the principles upon which this country was founded.”
Rep. Jones has sued President Obama and in the past President Clinton as well over this issue, facts which have cast him in an understandably partisan light. In his defense, however, both Iraq and Afghanistan were actions put before Congress despite their dubious reasoning and subsequent failure. To lose sight of the fact both Bush and Obama administrations have ignored the Constitution and that Rep. Jones is but one in a handful of legislators who wishes to reign in rogue administrations would be far worse than the most rabid partisanship.
Jones’ resolution was in response to last week’s Senate hearing, which put into focus once again the unmitigated arrogance of our armed forces’ top brass and bureaucratic leadership under Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Sen. Jim Sessions (R-AL) asked a very simple question of Gen. Dempsey during the Armed Services Committee hearing: “…in one of your criteria for determining what we might do militarily [in Syria] you say, ‘you have to ask the question whether the action…is consistent with law’ – what law does the military look to?” This is Gen. Dempsey’s tripartite response (emphases are mine):
- “…We act with the authorized use of military force either at the consent of a government – so when we’re invited in…”
- “…Out of national self defense…there’s a very clear criteria for that…”
- “…With some kind of international legal basis.”
While it may very easily be construed that Gen. Dempsey’s 2nd raison d’etre includes Congressional approval, which he suggested, he was quite glib about the fact the U.S. Military would be authorized to use force either at the consent of a foreign government and/or part of an international coalition i.e. the U.N. or NATO.
Sec. Panetta, himself a former Congressman of California for eight terms, evidently no longer has reason for the Constitution in his current station. He explains:
“Our goal would be to seek international permission and we would… come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress – I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here,” Panetta told Sessions.
“Well, I’m almost breathless about that,” the senator from Alabama replied, “because what I heard you say is, ‘We’re going to seek international approval, and then we’ll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek congressional approval.’ And I just want to say to you that’s a big [deal].”
As The Atlantic covered yesterday, this constitutional amnesia has afflicted virtually the entire administration including President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton. When they were mere mortals in the Senate their previous statements stand in stark contrast to the current administration’s disdain for constitutional processes.
This is, however, par for the course as Barry, the constitutional law proffesor, has regularly skirted the supreme law of the land and sacred intent laid down by the Founders. Obama and his deputies deserve to me impeached numerous grounds let alone entering Syria without Congress’ assent. From assuming a foreign government post at the U.N.’s Security Council to his recent unconstitutional war in Libya he has betrayed a nation of laws not of men. The “kinetic action” in Libya, which lasted longer than even the War Powers Resolution allowed, a resolution he trounced in deciding to remove Qaddafi without immanent threat, cost the American taxpayer a cool $1 billion.
Perhaps this shouldn’t all be dropped at the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania, I mean why shouldn’t Congress be treated like this – pimp smacked up and down the Hill by the imperious Obama & Co.? You can’t expect to defer your constitutional authorities over and over again for decades to domestic bureaucracy and international bodies only now to turn around claim your dignity can you?
Unfortunately impeachment is unlikely, after all bipartisanship is alive and well in war. Even after the recent massacre in Afghanistan following a long line of similar atrocities there is only a small guard protesting our empire. According to The Atlantic:
“With the exception of three congressmen — Ron Paul of Texas (still in the GOP presidential derby), Walter Jones of North Carolina, and Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee – House Republican support for staying in Afghanistan appears to be strong. In the Senate, two Republican tea party senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah – joined 21 Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont to ask Obama to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawals. The letter was sent to Obama on March 7. Paul and Lee were the only Republicans to sign the letter.”
There have only been thus far two presidents impeached, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted of far less, it is highly unlikely this resolution will go anywhere – at least for right now.