Leon Panetta: Toady Of Tyranny
In the brazen fashion which is the hallmark of the current Administration, SecDef Leon Panetta went before the Senate yesterday and had this exchange with Senator Sessions [big tip of the fedora to John Hinderaker for the transcript]:
SESSIONS: Do you think you can act without Congress and initiate a no-fly zone in Syria without congressional approval?
PANETTA: Our goal would be to seek international permission… Whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress—I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.
SESSIONS: Well I am almost breathless about that because what I heard you say is, “we’re going to seek international approval and we’ll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek congressional approval” … Wouldn’t you agree that would be pretty breathtaking to the average American?
PANETTA: If we are working with an international coalition or NATO we would want to be able to get appropriate permissions in order to be able to do that. All of these countries would want to have some kind of legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: What “legal basis” are you looking for? What entity?
PANETTA: If NATO made the decision to go in, that would be one. If we developed an international coalition beyond NATO then obviously some kind of U.N. security resolution would be the basis for that.
SESSIONS: So you are saying NATO would give you a “legal basis?” And an ad hoc coalition of nations would provide a “legal basis?”
PANETTA: We would seek whatever legal basis we would need in order to make that justified. We can’t just pull them all together without getting the legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: I’m all for having international support, but I’m really baffled by the idea that somehow an international assembly provides a legal basis for the United States military to be deployed in combat. I don’t think it’s close to being correct. They provide no legal authority. The only legal authority that’s required to deploy the U.S. military is the Congress and the president and the law in the Constitution.
Of course, what Panetta is saying is that ‘this Administration can’t wait for the Congress to act’. Thus spake a Tyrant.
In a blistering post over at The Corner, Andrew McCarthy demolishes Panetta in six explosive points. Here’s one:
2. The United States never needs permission from an international tribunal to act in our national defense. Under the Constitution, the only authorization the commander-in-chief needs to make war comes from Congress, which has the power to declare war and the power of the purse. If our national interests are sufficiently threatened that the use of force is appropriate, it may well make political sense to join our allies in seeking a resolution from the U.N. Security Council. But our nation should view that as an endorsement we seek for political purposes, not an authorization we need for legal purposes — and if the delay in obtaining it threatens operational success, we should be prepared to proceed without it. The U.N. and its Security Council are composed of countries that are hostile to the U.S. and seek to frustrate our policy. We should never concede that they have a check on our power to act in our interests. The only legal check on our military power is the one our Constitution gives to our Congress.
If the Republicans in the Congress do not force the Executive to repeal this policy, then they should be tarred and feathered