Monday, January 08, 2007

Revoking War Authorization

Below is a portion of my recent missive to my local House Rep.

VIA FACSIMILE: 202-225-5933
Congressman Chris Murphy
501 Cannon House Office BuildingWashington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Murphy:

Congratulations on your new office. It’s a promising new year on the Hill. . . . I offer the following views and suggestions, wholly unsolicited, purely in the spirit of improving our nation’s plight overseas.

I write to strongly recommend a potential legislative course of action to confront the continued usurpation of legal authority by the Executive Branch under the Bush Administration, in its prosecution of the Iraq War: revisit the authorizing legislation.

As you know, in October, 2002, the U.S. House and Senate passed Pub. Law 107-40, entitled “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.” (hereafter “the 2002 Resolution”). The bill, which won broad bi-partisan support and was signed into law by the President, contains a narrowly drafted authorization of Executive war power. Congress authorized this war to fulfill only two very narrow objectives, as follows:
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
See Pub. Law 107-40 §3 (2002).

Furthermore, Section 4 contains reporting requirements, which, it is safe to say, have not been fulfilled by the Executive Branch, other than in dubious fashion. Seizing on the limited authority granted by the 2002 Resolution, and ramping up scrutiny on the reporting requirements, are legislative methods that have the potential to bring together members of Congress in both houses and from both sides of the aisle, some of whom supported the 2002 Resolution, and some of whom did not. It is a way to challenge assertions of Executive authority, which, as you know, derives its Constitutionality only to the extent of the legislative authorization.

More simply put, it is a means by which to re-build a Constitutional barrier to the continuing loss of U.S. lives and treasure, and at the expense of the U.S.’s international security interests, in a country which never did pose a threat to the United States worthy of force authorization, and which was clearly no longer in violation of any relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Thus, the two narrow bases upon which Executive authority rests have long since evanesced, if ever they existed.

For these reasons, I strongly urge you to support, or even introduce legislation which reiterates the limitations on Executive authority under the 2002 Resolution.

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