The Constitution, the Executive Branch and War Powers

In reading the Constitution, we can plainly see that Congress possesses the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, to raise and support armies, to grant letters of marque and reprisal, to provide for the common defense,” and even “to declare war.” Congress shares, with the President, the power to make treaties and to appoint ambassadors. As for the Executive, the President is assigned only two powers relating to foreign affairs; commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the power to receive ambassadors.

The United States Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land in our country, delegates the power to declare war to the Congress and the power to wage war to the President. What that means is that only the Congress, as representatives of the People and of the States, can determine whether or not the nation goes to war. If the People, through Congress, decide that the nation shall go to war, the President then, and only then, has the authority to wage it.

Unless the country is being invaded, if the congress does not declare war against another country, the president is constitutionally barred from waging it, no matter how much he desires to do so. This is, again, shown clearly in the following statements:

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Only Congress Can Declare War

by Michael Boldin

The framers of the Constitution attempted to balance the power of the President as commander-in-chief with that of Congress, the representatives of the People.

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives to the Executive Branch the command of the nation’s armed forces, while Article I, Section 8 gives to the Legislative Branch the power to decide when the United States goes to war.

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The Presidency: Executive or Imperial Branch?

by Ivan Eland

More memos recently have surfaced that were written early in the Bush administration by John C. Yoo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — the man who gave us the administration’s horrifyingly narrow definition of torture. As difficult as it is to believe, the recently released memos are even scarier than the original torture memo.

Yoo boldly asserts that the president’s power during wartime is nearly unlimited. For example, he argues that Congress has no right to pass laws governing the interrogations of enemy combatants and the commander-in-chief can ignore such laws if passed, and can, without constraint, seize oceangoing ships.

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Why we have a Tenth Amendment

Guest Commentary by Dan Reale

You can ask anybody what the first amendment prevents infringement upon. They might know about one thing, freedom of speech, but incorrectly, tell you we are granted freedom of speech. Even then, most miss the other four inalienable rights the Constitution limits the federal government from violating.

Most are equally unaware of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and even of their status as militia under U.S. code. Most also don’t know that the third amendment prevents forced slumber parties with soldiers, and further assume that one’s right to be secure in his papers, person and effects can be waived by law – without a rebellion or invasion. They also believe that the seizure of life, liberty or property is okay without a warrant, just compensation or due process is legal.

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The Root of the Problem

Reports from the UK are talking about a British General lambasting US policy failures in Iraq. From the Guardian:

The bitter transatlantic row over Iraq intensified as another key British general lambasted the US for bungling the aftermath of the invasion.

Major General Tim Cross, the most senior UK officer involved in the post-war planning, said Washington’s policy had been “fatally flawed”. He also insisted he had raised serious concerns about the possibility of the country sliding into chaos with Donald Rumsfeld – but the then-US defence secretary “dismissed” the warnings.

Once again, the personalities and the media are concerned with the symptoms of our problems in Iraq – rather than the cause.

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