By Bruce Fein – – Friday, September 12, 2014
President Obama is torturing the language and purposes of twin federal statutes enacted more than a decade ago to justify his lawless war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
His interpretations of what Congress has authorized him to do are as fanciful as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that 1,000 Russian troops accidentally lost their way into Ukraine during a march to St. Petersburg.
Indeed, Mr. Obama has desacralized the law across the board. To him, the law is nothing more than a jumble of political calculations with ulterior motives. He has mocked a cornerstone principle of the American republic voiced by Thomas Paine: “[I]n America, the law is King. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”
Mr. Obama has violated his constitutional oath to uphold and defend the Constitution far beyond the lawlessness of President Richard M. Nixon, which triggered his impeachment and resignation in 1974.
Mr. Obama absurdly contends that Congress authorized war against ISIS in 2001, years before it existed, in enacting the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF). The plain text confines the president’s use of force to persons, organizations or nations that were complicit in the 9/11 abominations or harbored those who were. Al Qaeda fits the bill. ISIS does not. It did not exist in 2001. It was born years later and operates as an adversary or rival of al Qaeda, not as an ally or associate. Mr. Obama himself embraced this self-evident understanding of the AUMF on Aug. 31 in stating that new congressional authorization would be sought to carry war into Syria. The only things that have changed between then and now are Mr. Obama’s jumble of political calculations.
Even more ludicrous is Mr. Obama’s contention that the Iraqi War Resolution of 2002 delegating to the president authority to initiate war against Iraq provides legal justification for warring against a non-state actor that did not then exist and today is fighting against Iraq. That smacks of the casuistry that would characterize an elephant as a mouse with a glandular condition.
Vandalizing the Constitution has been chronic throughout the Obama administration. President Obama has exterminated at least four American citizens without due process of law on his say-so alone. He has commenced an unconstitutional and illegal war of aggression against Libya. He has imprisoned persons at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely without accusation or trial. He has conducted massive, suspicionless surveillance of American citizens in violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be let alone. He has flouted his constitutional obligation to take care that the immigration laws and prohibitions against torture or illegal surveillance be faithfully executed. He unconstitutionally exchanged five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for an American soldier without notifying Congress 30 days in advance contrary to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2014 and the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014.
James Clapper, Mr. Obama’s director of National Intelligence, lied under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee in denying the NSA was collecting data on hundreds of millions of Americans. Mr. Obama tacitly endorsed the perjury and obstruction of congressional oversight. John O. Brennan, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee in violation of the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, and then lied about the constitutional transgression. Mr. Obama did nothing to rebuke or admonish Mr. Brennan for his unprecedented constitutional misconduct. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service has administered the law of tax exempt organizations with a heavy hand against conservatives in violation of the First Amendment.
Mr. Obama cannot duck responsibility for the wrongdoing of Mr. Clapper, Mr. Brennan or the IRS’ Lois Lerner. James Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated that a president would be “subject to impeachment himself, if he suffers [his subordinates] to perpetrate with impunity high crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.”
In Mr. Obama’s defense, his lawlessness has been an open book to Congress and the American people. And they have done nothing to redress overthrow of the rule of law.
What the historian Tacitus said about the decline and fall of Rome can be said about the United States today: “The worst crimes were dared by a few, willed by more, and tolerated by all.”