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Thu Feb 21, 2013, 10:47 AM

What if the president could just wage war from the Oval Office?

Last edited Fri Feb 22, 2013, 11:23 AM - Edit history (3)

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What if the President didn't need to go to Congress to get approval to wage war? What if the POTUS could wage war from his Oval Office without a massive deployment of troops or weaponry that would need continuous funding from a reluctant Congress? That's the future, and I think Americans are buying it.

There is a disconnect from the horrors of war that our country folk have become comfortable with as those who promote and prosecute the violence within and without our government separate us, more and more, from an accounting of the bloody realities of the mindless destructive power of our weaponry and the dangerous contradictions that undermine the premise of our military interventions. Apart from the dehumanizing of the targets of our aggression with the taunts, the name-calling, and the pistol-packing cowboy 'dead or alive' rhetoric thrown out like red meat to the cowed masses, our government and military has been content to brush past the humanity of the inhabitants of whatever lands they choose as the whipping post for their military misadventures.

In the countries they've chosen to invade and occupy in the last decade, Iraq and Afghanistan, they have dismissed expressions of nationalism by the citizens of these sovereign nations in defense of basic prerogatives of liberty and self-determination as threats to our consolidation of power. Yanked from our peaceful, post cold war slumber by the suffering of one day of attacks by a rogue band of meglomaniacs and their hapless martyrs, our nation has endured the consequences of a paranoid slap-attack at the rest of the world with eyes closed that began with then-President Bush's fearful flight around the country that day in Air Force One to "keep out of harms way".

His frightened tantrum ended with an opportunistic grab to usurp the power from a vanquished nation of innocents; a suffering class of people who were already devastated by the bombing of the first war, and by the economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the insistence of the U.S., which served to enrich Saddam Hussein and steadily impoverish and starve everyone else.

Bush's administration pulled the nation's defenders into invading Iraq to compensate for, and to draw attention from, their failure to apprehend the ringleader of the attack on the World Trade Center. Bush made the appeal to the nation in a manner which exploited our deepest fears as he stepped down from the pile of rubble and human remains with his bullhorn still in hand and warned the nation about the potential for a future Iraqi assault on our country, or on our allies, of a magnitude that would far exceed the devastation of the horrendous suicide attack in New York.

Bush's strategy of preemption became his license to release our aggressor nation from its responsibility to pursue - to the rejection of their last reasonable admonition - a peaceful resolution to Saddam's obstinacy. And, with a deft flex of military and political muscle, the presumption of innocence, even in the face of a clear absence of proof became a conquered victim of the tainted consensus of his cabal of purchased allies.

Lincoln once remarked: "A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"

"(They're) either with us or against us," Bush told America.

That's what satisfied most of our country folk to allow Bush to war on Iraq and Afghanistan - his careful stoking of the sparks of fear that flashed from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his demagogic appeals to patriotism and to our nationalism. That's what allowed him to indiscriminately bomb and strafe innocents who happen to be in the line of sight of his target, or standing in the way of his many different stated ambitions in that region.

That is what allows President Obama, today, to avoid scorn from the citizens of our own nation for the collateral killings and maiming of innocents by our men and women in the military, from the air and on the ground, as they pursue their aggression against anyone in the way of his own 'anti-terror' campaign. The nation grieved for the victims of 9-11, as we should have, but we did so in an understandable bubble of grief and apprehension about who in the world we should regard as our enemy. Bush exploited those doubts and convinced a majority of Americans, along with the Pentagon/administration driven media, that we were now at war with a world of enemies, all aligned somehow with the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks.

"For a generation leading up to September 11, 2001, terrorists and their radical allies attacked innocent people in the Middle East and beyond, without facing a sustained and serious response." Bush told the nation as he twisted Congress for $87 billion to continue his 'war on terror'. "Since America put out the fires of September 11, mourned our dead, and went to war," he warned "history has taken a different turn. We have carried the fight to the enemy. We are rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power."

Congress rolled over in the face of their own fear of being labeled weak and unpatriotic. Congress is supposed to be the body that decides whether we're at war. Through allocation of money and through the power inherent in that body to hold the president accountable to the law, Congress is supposed to be setting the limits on this 'war on terror' and any other military adventure the White House might dream up. Not many in the Capitol could successfully argue against giving Bush authority to use the military against "those responsible for the (9-11) attacks launched against the United States" at the time that the authority was given.

But, I wonder just how many senators and representatives actually want to take on the responsibility for our security? For that cowardice, and other derelictions of leadership, they are willing to cede the very war-making authority that makes them relevant at all in the deployment of our nation's military.

There is no greater evidence of the dangers of corruption of the power and influence of our nations military than in the prosecution of the 'war on terror' by Bush. Congress seemed to bend to any and all requests for money for Bush to do whatever he wanted, overtly or covertly, with our military, its agents, and its weaponry as well. He was saturated with a new national security bureaucracy - content to use the strength of our nation, our soldiers and our citizens in their vulnerability to attack, as a battering ram to force his rhetorical version of democracy wherever his ambition for greed and conquest motivated him.

Congress can come together, if they had the will, and pull the plug on whatever military meddling and malfeasance they disagree with. One vote to modify Public Law 107-40 , Authorization for Use of Military Force, would put an end to any politician, legislator, or general's insistence that the authorization to use our military against the group of thugs who orchestrated the 9-11 attacks is an open-ended license to evade the law and launch a jingoistic campaign of suspicion and snooping against anyone they deem related to this paranoid 'war' and it's opportunistic military aggressions abroad.

That's the dirty little secret behind presidents' croc tears about Congress 'tying their hands'. They would rather not have to come before the nation and ask for the money to sustain the endless progression of hapless men and women to the roulette of death in their theaters of war.


Bush's defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. actually formed his own private army and intelligence branch with its own funding.

from the Washington Post, Jan. 2005 (Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain
New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory
):

The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Rumsfeld's ambitious plans rely principally on the Tampa-based U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, and on its clandestine component, the Joint Special Operations Command. Rumsfeld has designated SOCOM's leader, Army Gen. Bryan D. Brown, as the military commander in chief in the war on terrorism. He has also given Brown's subordinates new authority to pay foreign agents. The Strategic Support Branch is intended to add missing capabilities -- such as the skill to establish local spy networks and the technology for direct access to national intelligence databases -- to the military's much larger special operations squadrons. Some Pentagon officials refer to the combined units as the "secret army of Northern Virginia."

Known as "special mission units," Brown's elite forces are not acknowledged publicly. They include two squadrons of an Army unit popularly known as Delta Force, another Army squadron -- formerly code-named Gray Fox -- that specializes in close-in electronic surveillance, an Air Force human intelligence unit and the Navy unit popularly known as SEAL Team Six.

. . . In pursuit of those aims, Rumsfeld is laying claim to greater independence of action as Congress seeks to subordinate the 15 U.S. intelligence departments and agencies -- most under Rumsfeld's control -- to the newly created and still unfilled position of national intelligence director. For months, Rumsfeld opposed the intelligence reorganization bill that created the position. He withdrew his objections late last year after House Republican leaders inserted language that he interprets as preserving much of the department's autonomy.


The money came from within the defense budget, easy to approve a lot of it hidden under the guise of national security. Rumsfeld wanted forces that are easily deployed, don't need big, public allocations (or a fanfare of pre-approval) from Congress, and are able to carry on several covert or clandestine missions at once. This meshed with Bush's shuffle of the Pentagon succession line to elevate the new intelligence office over the traditional branches of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The new intelligence office was headed by Rumsfeld's neocon buddy, Stephen Cambone. No need to trouble us while they raped the treasury to wage their wars for greed and conquest.

-Geek Wars-

Most disturbing in the prosecution of these undercover wars was the increased reliance on 'predator' drones to launch missile attacks on hideouts and vehicles where 'intelligence' claims there is a target of terror. The Bush-era Air Force codified into their regular military arsenal, the MQ-1 Predator, long-range, medium-altitude, remotely piloted aircraft as a 'Joint Forces Air Component Commander-owned theater asset for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition in support of the Joint Forces commander'.

The drones were equipped with two laser-guided Hellfire anti-tank missiles; originally intended for use in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The change in designation from an intelligence tool to an offensive one occurred in 2002 with the addition of the armed reconnaissance role. Bush's CIA's Tenet approved the use of the armed drones right after the 9-11 attacks. In fact, targeting of bin-Laden by the CIA using the drones was approved by President Clinton.

However, even Tenet resisted the call to use the drones to carry out attacks. He thought the authority to wage armed aggression was the job of the military, not the CIA. Nonetheless, security insiders supported the militarization of the drone -- like our erstwhile hero, Richard Clarke, who wrote in a memo to Rice criticizing Tenet for impeding the deployment of unmanned Predator drones to hunt for bin Laden. According to the Washington Post, the memo urged “officials to imagine a day when hundreds of Americans lay dead from a terrorist attack and ask themselves what more they could have done.”

Who wouldn't get behind the prospect of striking down the nation's #1 enemy with a precision-guided tool operated from a safe distance, without the mess of dead U.S. servicefolks to muck up the approval of a shellshocked public? And what of those innocents who happen to be in the way of our missiles? Well, 'they're with us, or against us'.

Air Force officials in March 2005 announced plans to expand their force of Predators to 15 squadrons from the existing three, while at the same time developing a “hunter-killer” version of the aircraft. The Air Force proposed spending about $825 million to purchase 74 Predators over the next six years, augmenting the 68 then in service.

“Unmanned systems allow us to maintain our technological advantage and engage in high threat, non-permissive environments, while honoring the value of life we hold so dear,” Glenn Lamartin, the Pentagon’s director of defense systems, told lawmakers. He means American lives, of course. All others be damned, 'with us, or against us'.

So now, with the advancement of these offensive weapons, operated like video games from the safety of some stateside base, agents of our government, under the cover of blanket authorizations to fight terrorists which stretch back to the Clinton administration -- they are now being exploited by the Obama administration in their efforts to put a finer point on Bush's cynical war.

In their ideal, there need not be rows of caskets draped with American flags anymore containing brave soldiers and airmen who are sacrificed in the name of whatever meddling ambition the president embarks on. Most Americans won't see the hasty graves of the victims abroad of the assaults of our predator drones, graves dug out of the hard ground which inhabitants endeavor to call their own. And, as they turn against us because of our aggression and support those in their own region who stand against the imposition of our false authority, they become the enemies our government and military will likely point at to justify the continuation of this perpetual 'terror' war.

We all share the blame for our military's aggression. Even those of us who fought against war and violence carry some responsibility for the killings and maiming done in our country's name. That's why we fight to speak truth to power and work to counter the warmongerers and their enablers.

Yet, the more our citizens, public officials, defense leaders, and politicians become detached from the instruments of our military aggression, the more we become desensitized to the destruction they cause. They just give us the illusion of clean hands. We are the merchants of their misdeeds. The employment of these air assaults, manned and unmanned, insulate the U.S. from the sacrifices of American life and limb that might otherwise restrain our citizen's support for using our military to further dubious political ambitions abroad.

What if the president could just wage war from the Oval Office . . . ?

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Reply What if the president could just wage war from the Oval Office? (Original post)
bigtree Feb 2013 OP
datasuspect Feb 2013 #1
bigtree Feb 2013 #2
datasuspect Feb 2013 #4
bigtree Feb 2013 #6
LineNew Reply .
bigtree Feb 2013 #3
Egalitarian Thug Feb 2013 #5
Tierra_y_Libertad Feb 2013 #7
ProSense Feb 2013 #8

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 11:02 AM

1. if leaders had to actually lead their troops into battle like ancient Kings did

 

there would be a lot less war.

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Response to datasuspect (Reply #1)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:36 PM

2. yup

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Response to datasuspect (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 03:02 PM

6. I'm not for mandated service, for anyone

. . . but it's always going to be a situation where the elites and the leaders carve out a privileged place for them and theirs. More transparency helps, some.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 11:29 PM

3. .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:45 AM

5. You and I don't agree on much, but this is brilliant. Well done, sir. n/t

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 03:22 PM

7. Well said. Drones are the new "wonder weapons" that save politicians from admitting to a lost war.

And, they can dress it up as benevolent because they don't kill as many people as bombers or artillery, or massive use of ground troops. Which is akin to saying that more people die of cancer than tuberculosis.

The congress could stop the killing by simply cutting off the funding, but they won't because it would look bad when they're up for reelection. Yet doing so is what ended the lost war in Vietnam.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sun Feb 24, 2013, 03:35 PM

8. You know,

Congress can come together, if they had the will, and pull the plug on whatever military meddling and malfeasance they disagree with. One vote to modify Public Law 107-40 , Authorization for Use of Military Force, would put an end to any politician, legislator, or general's insistence that the authorization to use our military against the group of thugs who orchestrated the 9-11 attacks is an open-ended license to evade the law and launch a jingoistic campaign of suspicion and snooping against anyone they deem related to this paranoid 'war' and it's opportunistic military aggressions abroad.

That's the dirty little secret behind presidents' croc tears about Congress 'tying their hands'. They would rather not have to come before the nation and ask for the money to sustain the endless progression of hapless men and women to the roulette of death in their theaters of war.

...it's really good that this debate is ungoing. President Obama does not want to "wage war from the Oval Office."

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022421836

The debate is being confounded by hyperbole, and there are real issues.

From the Center for Constitutional Rights:

<...>

Under the Constitution and international law, individuals must be afforded due process and convicted for a capital crime before they may be executed by the state. In extremely narrow circumstances, judicial process is not required if an individual poses an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm to others, and lethal force is a last resort to address the threat. A targeted killing policy in which names are added to kill lists after a bureaucratic process and remain on the lists for months is clearly not limited to addressing imminent threats or using lethal force as a last resort, and goes far beyond what the law permits. By substituting its own bureaucratic process for the due process required by the Constitution and international law, the executive is assuming the role of judge, jury, and executioner.

<...>

The executive process for authorizing these killings also plainly violates the legal requirements for the use of lethal force by the state. Outside of armed conflict, where the Constitution and peace-time international law apply, the United States can only take an individual’s life, no less the life of a U.S. citizen, after trial and conviction. The only exception to the rule is where the individual poses a grave threat of such imminence that judicial process is infeasible and lethal force is the only option that could reasonably address the threat. That individuals are added to kill lists after a bureaucratic process and left on the lists for months at a time flies in the face of the requirement that killing must be a last resort to address an imminent threat that leaves no time for process or deliberation.

http://ccrjustice.org/learn-more/faqs/kill-lists

The Constitution does grant the President the authority to use lethal force against citizens who take up arms against the United States in armed conflict and in situations where the individual "poses a grave threat of such imminence that judicial process is infeasible and lethal force is the only option."

In 2002, another U.S. citizen was killed in Yemen, though it was originally stated that he was not the target.

Kamal Derwish (also Ahmed Hijazi) was an American citizen killed by the CIA as part of a covert targeted killing mission in Yemen on November 5, 2002. The CIA used an RQ-1 Predator drone to shoot a Hellfire missile, destroying the vehicle in which he was driving with five others.

Derwish had been closely linked to the growing religious fundamentalism of the Lackawanna Six, a group of Muslim-Americans who had attended lectures in his apartment near Buffalo, New York.

That an American citizen had been killed by the CIA without trial drew criticism. American authorities quickly back-pedaled on their stories celebrating the death of Derwish, instead noting they had been unaware he was in the car which they said had been targeted for its other occupants, including Abu Ali al-Harithi, believed to have played some role in the USS Cole bombing.

<...>

On November 3, 2002, Derwish and al-Harithi were part of a convoy of vehicles moving through the Yemeni desert trying to meet someone, unaware that their contact was cooperating with US forces to lure them into a trap. As their driver spoke on satellite phone, trying to figure out why the two parties couldn't see each other if they were both at the rendezvous point, a Predator drone launched a Hellfire missile, killing everybody in the vehicle. CIA officers in Djibouti had received clearance for the attack from director George Tenet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamal_Derwish


Human Rights Watch issued this statement:

The line between war and law enforcement gained importance as the U.S. government extended its military efforts against terrorism outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In November, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency used a missile to kill Qaid Salim Sinan al-Harethi, an alleged senior al-Qaeda official, and five companions as they were driving in a remote and lawless area of Yemen controlled by tribal chiefs. Washington accused al-Harethi of masterminding the October 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole which had killed seventeen sailors. Based on the limited information available, Human Rights Watch did not criticize the attack on al-Harethi as an extra-judicial execution because his alleged al-Qaeda role arguably made him a combatant, the government apparently lacked control over the area in question, and there evidently was no reasonable law enforcement alternative. Indeed, eighteen Yemeni soldiers had reportedly been killed in a prior attempt to arrest al-Harethi. However, the U.S. government made no public effort to justify this use of its war powers or to articulate the legal limits to such powers. It is Human Rights Watch's position that even someone who might be classified as an enemy combatant should not be subject to military attack when reasonable law enforcement means are available. The failure to respect this principle would risk creating a huge loophole in due process protections worldwide. It would leave everyone open to being summarily killed anyplace in the world upon the unilateral determination by the United States (or, as the approach is inevitably emulated, by any other government) that he or she is an enemy combatant.

http://www.hrw.org/legacy/wr2k3/introduction.html

It reiterates the conditions for action ("al-Qaeda role," "no control over area" and "no reasonable law enforcement alternative," but it also stresses the risk of a slippery slope.

Still, who gets to decide on the conditions?

My point is that this problem isn't going away. President Obama is only going to be in office for another four years. It will have to be resolved now or later, by this President and Congress or the next President and Congress, but it's not going away.




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