Thursday, August 29, 2013

The War Powers Act and Syria

Robert Willmann, Jr., Attorney at Law, emails:

This is most likely already known to everyone, but
when we hear people talk about the War Powers Act
and "consultations" with Congress, there is sometimes
misunderstanding about what that law says. At this point
regarding Syria, the most important language is in
Title 50, United States Code, section 1541(c),
in the War Powers Act--

"(c) Presidential Executive Power as Commander-in-Chief; limitation

The constitutional powers of the President as
Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed
Forces into hostilities, or into situations where
imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly
indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to

(1) a declaration of war,

(2) a specific statutory authorization, or

(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the
United States, its territories or possessions, or its
armed forces."

All this talk about "consultations with Congress" is
disinformation, unless first the language in the section
quoted above is triggered which would then authorize
the president "to introduce" the U.S. armed forces
into "hostilities".

As is obvious, none of the language in the War Powers
Act has been activated. Section 1541(c)(1) and (2) have
not happened. Syria has not made an "attack upon the
United States, its territories or possessions, or its
armed forces," and so subpart "c" does not apply either
and does not give president Obama the authority to do
any attack on Syria.

But this law, too, has been ignored in the past and will
be ignored this time if the missiles fly and the
bombs fall.

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