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Friday, May 20, 2011

Today Is The Day Barack Obama Starts Breaking The Law: Is It Impeachable?

War Powers Resolution, Congressional Action, Sec. 5 (b) and (c) states:

(b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution.

Today, Friday, May 20, 2011, is the 60th day following Barack Obama's official notification to Congress that he had entered into a war mission on Libya.

To this day, no congressional vote has been taken to authorize the action.

Therefore today is the day Barack Obama starts breaking the law and even Democratic politicians are angered and concerned over it.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, tells CNN he believes Obama is trying to "bring democracy to Libya while shredding the Constitution of the United States."

"He cannot continue what he is doing in Libya without congressional authorization. When a president defiantly violates the law, that really undercuts our efforts to urge other countries to have the rule of law," Sherman said.

Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich is vowing to introduce legislation on Monday (three days after Obama formally breaks this law) to force Obama to pull U.S. forces from the conflict.

Six Republican Senators have written to Obama asking him if he intends to comply with the War Powers Act:

That action was taken without regard to or compliance with the requirement of section 2(c) of the War Powers Resolution that the United States Armed Forces only be introduced into hostilities or situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances "pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces...."

Congress received your report pursuant to section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution on March 21, 2011. Friday is the final day of the statutory sixty-day period for you to terminate the use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya under the War Powers Resolution. As recently as last week your Administration indicated use of the United States Armed Forces will continue indefinitely. Therefore, we are writing to ask whether you intend to comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. We await your response.

That letter was signed and sent by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Democratic senate majority leader Harry Reid, via his spokesman suggests there is no urgency in forcing Obama to comply to the War Powers Act and comply with the law.

Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner simply responds by saying "The House is not in session this week."

Action in Libya has cost Americans an estimated $750 million so far with the Pentagon using existing funds to fund it since Congress has no only not authorized action but have also not provided and allotment of funds for our war in Libya.

Some believe Congress is abdicating their responsibility by not forcing Obama to comply with the law, but it is just as likely that Democrats who count on their anti-war base of supporters do not want to officially vote on allowing extended action while Republicans could be handing Barack Obama enough rope to hang his Presidency.

Far left progressive Glenn Greenwald starts his piece on this issue simply, by using Barack Obama's own words:

"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" -- candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007

"No more ignoring the law when it's inconvenient. That is not who we are. . . . We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers" -- candidate Barack Obama, August 1, 2007

Then again that was all said before Barack Obama became president. Somehow in Obama's mind, the rules do not apply to him, just everyone else.

How is a President punished for breaking the law?

Before anyone screams the word Impeachment, be very sure the legal grounds are there.

According to the wording of Constitutional Grounds For Presidential Impeachment, the relevant stated portion would be "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Which would bring the discussion to the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

When the constitution was written the phrase was understood far better than it is today. The best explanation I have found is here, where it goes back to the origin of the term:

....Most of the framers knew the phrase well. Since 1386, the English parliament had used “high crimes and misdemeanors” as one of the grounds to impeach officials of the crown. Officials accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were accused of offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery. Some of these charges were crimes. Others were not. The one common denominator in all these accusations was that the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.

I have never been one not jump on the Impeach Obama bandwagon because many were discussing it before he ever took office and I felt it was unreasonable.

Obama's actions now, refusing to formally ask Congress for authorization and letting the 60 day deadline pass without receiving any authorization, in many minds, does constitute an extreme abuse of power.

I would love to see legal scholars address one specific question: Does Obama's abuse of power by violating the War Power Act fall under the category of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors"?

(Added Note- in case the above quoted WPA section is not clear enough, as of today, Obama has 30 days to have our troops removed from action in Libya. So far, nothing indicates he is planning such a withdrawal, in fact, from official's quotes he is planning on continuing the illegal action)

(Title and post corrected to clarify the additional 30 days Obama has to remove our troops from military action in Libya)