Obama tells Congressional leaders he needs no authorization to act in Iraq

posted at 8:41 am on June 19, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

We may finally have a rare point of consensus between Barack Obama and Congressional leadership — and it’s an odd but fitting point. The President gathered the leadership of both chambers and both parties to the Oval Office to brief them on his thinking about US options in Iraq, but not to seek their approval for any action. Obama told them that he’s authorized to take action based on previous Congressional authorizations as well as the inherent powers of the executive branch under Article II, and at least for now it appears that Obama was convincing:

Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly seized control Wednesday of Iraq’s largest domestic oil refinery, prompting a bloody showdown with Iraqi security forces that underscored the instability. The refinery represents more than a quarter of Iraq’s domestic refining capability, and could prompt fuel and power shortages across the country.

With that violence as the backdrop, Democratic leaders offered support for Obama to use a 2002 law authorizing President George W. Bush to take action in Iraq as the legal authority for new strikes.

“I do not believe the President needs any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement released after the meeting. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has previously backed that position.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate notably did not object to that interpretation, and Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the third-ranking GOP leader, offered public support. …

[A] source familiar with the discussion said some of the leaders present “suggested the president already has existing authorities to take additional action without congress[ional] authorization.”

That’s quite a turnaround, and not just for Pelosi and Reid. Democrats have wanted to kill the 2002 AUMF related to Iraq, and perhaps even amend the 2001 AUMF for al-Qaeda passed after 9/11 in order to limit the reach of the executive branch. Obama declared the war in Iraq over, which had some questioning whether any more action would have any legal basis. Suddenly, that AUMF is looking pretty good now that it’s become obvious to all that the war in Iraq wasn’t over at all.

Still, it’s the right decision by both Republicans and Democrats. The War Powers Act grants the President a lot of leeway even without the AUMF for at least a short period of time, and in this case we’d be deploying force (of some kind) on behalf of an ally that’s clearly ready to fall without some assistance. Fighting that would have a weak legal basis and politically hypocritical after the avalanche of GOP criticism on how Obama handled the withdrawal in 2011. Since Congress has not repealed the Iraq AUMF in the last three years, and since ISIS arguably falls under the 2001 AUMF against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, suddenly demanding a reauthorization looks bad in both ways, and for no good purpose other than knee-jerk opposition.

This is still a bit dangerous for Obama. He went alone on Libya and it turned into a disaster that ended up entirely on his shoulders. He almost did the same thing in Syria, and that combined with the earlier snub of Congress on Libya doomed his request to intervene against Bashar al-Assad. Asking for a vote might produce the same resistance, but this is a very different situation. The proposed 2013 Syria intervention was an attack on a government we’d long recognized, and as late as 2011 described as reformist. This would be an attack on a blatantly murderous terrorist network related to the same one that conducted 9/11 on behalf of a friendly government. There may still be grumblings about a “lack of strategy,” but Congress would almost certainly salute the Commander in Chief on this request. And that would protect Obama later in case the decision ended up going badly.

Or, it would provide some political cover. As Instapundit reminded us last night, some Democrats have very short memories when it comes to Iraq:

I wonder if Biden has amnesia about this, too?


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Obama declared the war to be over. He needs to start from scratch with Congress.

forest on June 19, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Being played. Will it ever be figured out?

Bmore on June 19, 2014 at 8:43 AM

I don’t trust this halfwit to do anything right, so we shouldn’t do anything at all.

NotCoach on June 19, 2014 at 8:44 AM

We should spend every ounce of energy we have trying to tie this POTUS in knots over this, and try to rat-f**k him at every turn.

After all, fair, is fair…

JohnGalt23 on June 19, 2014 at 8:44 AM

Barack W. Bush

Good Lt on June 19, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Wow! It’s official. The One now has 100% authority to sit on his thumb and rotate.

vnvet on June 19, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Or not act.

kcewa on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Biden looks like Grumpy Cat.

vlad martel on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

If only the Marines stationed in DC would exercise their DUTY to arrest this Dick-Tator.

This is yet another example of why every law passed by Congress needs an expiration date, because a Thug like Obama could, a DECADE or more into the future, drag something like the Iraq authorization for the use of force resolution to justify anything.

Not that Obama is going to do anything but dither, golf, fundraise, dither, dither, golf some more, fundraise and dither, but his narcissistic nature made it impossible for him to resist calling the leaders of Congress in for a photo op of him telling them “I am the king, you don’t matter” to their faces.

This is what you get when you make a 6 year old child in a 50 year old’s body President.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

So is acting unilaterally good now? Because I’m pretty sure every moronic democrat screamed for years that it’s evil.

Flange on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

So, Bush using the AUMF to go into Iraq = BAD.
Obama using the AUMF to go into Iraq = GOOD.

Thanks for the consistency, Dems.

Bitter Clinger on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Agree forest

cmsinaz on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

It’s a Muslim civil war. The only thing we should be doing is making popcorn.

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

I have this feeling when he’s finished every Iraqi who was a major supporter if America will either have fled or had their dead bodies dragged through the streets. And the icing on the cake will be a stronger and more well armed Iran.

But what do I know.

JellyToast on June 19, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Obama had his mission accomplished moment already …..
Cant have a re-do

cmsinaz on June 19, 2014 at 8:56 AM

The fact that GOP leaders are willing for political reasons to let Obama do this on his own does not make what he does either advisable or legal.

The idea behind the WPA was to allow the president to take emergency military action when there was not time for Congress to act. It was not intended to be carte blanche.

myiq2xu on June 19, 2014 at 8:58 AM

“I am King! King!! King!!!” –Lord Farquaad in Shrek, before being eaten by a dragon

Rix on June 19, 2014 at 8:59 AM

He hasn’t consulted Congress before, why start now.

vcferlita on June 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

CowPuck diplomacy.

Electrongod on June 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

It’s a Muslim civil war. The only thing we should be doing is making popcorn selling outdated weapons to both sides.

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

“If we were smart”, part 86274.

Rix on June 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM

It’s a Muslim civil war. The only thing we should be doing is making popcorn.

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

The only people over there we should even THINK about supporting are the Kurds.

They at least WANT to be a US ally. Obama will probably bomb THEM so the terrorists can take over their territory.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 9:02 AM

wouldn’t the aumf for iraq (or anyplace) be written to expire when withdrawal per SOFA was met ?
when do these things ever end?

dmacleo on June 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Sure, let Obama go forward without a new AUMF, making it officially on the record that he screwed up by getting out too soon, before the war was really over.

fadetogray on June 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM

It’s a Muslim civil war. The only thing we should be doing is making popcorn.

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Yeah..9/11 was a Muslim war too.

JellyToast on June 19, 2014 at 9:07 AM

And that would protect Obama later in case the decision ended up going badly.

Does anyone really believe that The Won, or John Effing Kerry, can manage this situation so that it does not end badly?
Anyone?

bobthm3 on June 19, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Yeah..9/11 was a Muslim war too.

JellyToast on June 19, 2014 at 9:07 AM

But not a civil war between two groups of savages halfway around the planet – but you good and well knew that you dumb adze.

LawfulGood on June 19, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Saw this movie and thought this was hilarious.

“Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN.”
Judi Dench as “M”, Goldeneye, 1995

JAGonzo on June 19, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Further proof 0 has no ability to lead? Just cover for his feckless leadership?

Bmore on June 19, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Yeah..9/11 was a Muslim war too.

JellyToast on June 19, 2014 at 9:07 AM

What we should have done after 9/11 is PUNISH the muslims for what they did.

Instead we get a President in 2009 named Hussein.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Of course not . . . we all know that he rules by royal decree.

rplat on June 19, 2014 at 9:15 AM

What about the part where he armed and trained these tirds?

Not only that, Ahmed Abu Khattala is directly connected to the covert transfer of U.S. arms from Qatar to Libya in the initial 2011 decision to arm the Benghazi “rebels.”

The arms went through Qatar to Libya to get Qadaffi outa the way, then once that was done through Benghazi back to Qatar to ISIS fighting in Syria.

Looks like Khattala didn’t want them to leave Libya.

Akzed on June 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Further proof 0 has no ability to lead? Just cover for his feckless leadership?

Bmore on June 19, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Obama doesn’t want Congress to have the chance to tell him no.

Obama also doesn’t want Congress to act thus forcing him to stop dithering and do something.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Oh, hat tip de rigueur.

Akzed on June 19, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Code Pink could not be reached for comment.

Lance Corvette on June 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Obama declared the war to be over. He needs to start from scratch with Congress.

forest on June 19, 2014 at 8:43 AM

.
“What difference, at this point, do it make?” – Barack the Magnificent (peas be upon him)

ExpressoBold on June 19, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Well, now we know that the 2002 AUMF was legitimate and that Bush did have the authority to do what he did, so Bush did not pursue an “illegal” war.

SouthernRoots on June 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

With elections coming up, what member of congress would want to sign off on any new military action? To the political-minded, it is far better to be weak and re-elected than responsibly performing your duties and living outside the beltway.

ROCnPhilly on June 19, 2014 at 9:27 AM

I believe we can call this a “bipartisan consensus of cowards”.

What this permits the collective unprincipled swamp in Washington to do is take political political positions which are meaningless in substance.

Meanwhile, we watch the gains made in Iraq lost, our allies we trained executed and a dangerous part of the world rise as a threat to Americans again.

But Syria “crossed a red line” or something.

What an utter waste, lack of courage and disgusting display of cowardice.

Marcus Traianus on June 19, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Obama do anything? LOL!
He is only good at threatening red lines not to cross, then running away.

Obama is trying hard to help set up the Sunni-led caliphate in the middle east. Trouble is everything Obama does turns to shiite…

albill on June 19, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Obama told them that he’s authorized to take action based on previous Congressional authorizations as well as the inherent powers of the executive branch under Article II, and at least for now it appears that Obama was convincing:

Maybe the “previous Congressional authorizations” thing is his lame excuse in case things get rough. Serious question: these Syrian militants in the ISIS that we would be helping the Iraqis fight against, are they part of the militant opposition we wanted to support in Syria against Assad? I’m confused.

DaveDief on June 19, 2014 at 9:37 AM

That’s what he said about Syria. Then, between him and Ketchup Boy, they talked the extent of the “attack” down to one that would be “unbelievably small”. After much dawdling, and it looked as if the public had no stomach for an attack, he went to Congress to get support, knowing they wouldn’t, which gave him cover to back down, while Putin made his brilliant move on Ketchup Boy’s offhand remark.

tpitman on June 19, 2014 at 9:37 AM

I can still remember the halcyon days of yore when making such a proclamation was a sign of an imperial preznidency, a tyrant, a lone crazed cowboy attitude.

Bishop on June 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM

SouthernRoots on June 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Good point. One thing you can count on is the stunning dementia of Democrats. I think today when I see one of those “Endless War” bumper stickers, I stop and congratulate the owner for electing a buffoon who proved their stupid sticker true.
Maybe instead of “buffoon” I’ll use ChimpyO or ObamaMcHiltler. eh.
I don’t care about grammar btw, I haven’t had coffee and I didn’t go to Harvard/

ORconservative on June 19, 2014 at 9:40 AM

What is GOP doing to Impeach Obama?

Why did McTurtle and Weepy Boehner agree that Obama already has authority to act?

Ned Pepper on June 19, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Hooboy, I can’t wait for all the anti-war lefties to jump in this thread and call Obama a dictator war criminal.

gwelf on June 19, 2014 at 9:55 AM

What is GOP doing to Impeach Obama?

Why did McTurtle and Weepy Boehner agree that Obama already has authority to act?

Dick Starkey on June 19, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Some friends and I saw you and the All-Starr Band eating at Davio’s in Boston the other night.

How was your arugula salad?

Del Dolemonte on June 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM

If President Obama can part the Red Sea (like Moses), as his employer, I would give him permission to act without consent of congress.

MSGTAS on June 19, 2014 at 9:59 AM

In the end, the only thing Obama will receive any credit for will be forcing the Washington Redskins to change their name.

And that is still in doubt.

BobMbx on June 19, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Obama’s hiding behind the AUMF “skirt” because it’s convenient but for this one time it’s the right thing to do. Let’ the Sunni’s and Shia’s kill each other off, we’ll bury the bodies and take the oil.

TulsAmerican on June 19, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Too bad we don’t have a Constitutional scholar in the White House who could tell Mr. Obama what the proper role of Congress is, since he seems to think our government doesn’t need it.

Socratease on June 19, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Del Dolemonte on June 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM

I hear Ringo doesn’t like fans recognizing him in public any more.

Flange on June 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Obama tells Congressional leaders he needs no authorization to act in

Iraq

just about everything.

This goes beyond Iraq of course. He wants something done, anything, he don’t need no stinkin’ CONgress to authorize it, or stop it.

All Hail our Imperial pResident.

hawkeye54 on June 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

Obama has just unraveled a dozen years of Leftist propagandizing about Bush’s “illegal” war by invoking the same AUMFs that Bush used to go into Iraq.

de rigueur on June 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Obama declared the war to be over. He needs to start from scratch with Congress.

forest on June 19, 2014 at 8:43 AM

What Obumbles would really like to do is scratch off CONress. Its been such an ill mannered, obstructive, uncooperative bunch of whiners and complainers every time Obumbles tries to accomplish anything.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on June 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM

I don’t trust this halfwit to do anything right, so we shouldn’t do anything at all.

NotCoach on June 19, 2014 at 8:44 AM

I think inaction is the wrong route. Your argument here is simple and yet really strong. I’m reconsidering my position.

Lolo on June 19, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Dubya got buy in from Congress.

Choom has a pen and a phone.

Do the math.

formwiz on June 19, 2014 at 11:13 AM

This is still a bit dangerous for Obama. He went alone on Libya and it turned into a disaster that ended up entirely on his shoulders.

No, it’s dangerous for those in uniform who will be the target of bullets, bombs and rockets.

Marcola on June 19, 2014 at 11:27 AM

He looks like he has AIDS.

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2014 at 11:30 AM

This is what you get when you make a 6 year old child in a 50 year old’s body President.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I agree but I’d alter that just a tad, to read thus:

This is what you get when you make a mentally ill 6 year old child in a 50 year old’s body President.

Lourdes on June 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

This is what you get when you make a 6 year old child in a 50 year old’s body President.

ConstantineXI on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

This is what you get when sheeple vote.

Schadenfreude on June 19, 2014 at 11:59 AM

So is acting unilaterally good now? Because I’m pretty sure every moronic democrat screamed for years that it’s evil.

Flange on June 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Silly poster, only Republican presidents have to go to the United Nations or NATO or the EU, only Republican presidents have to gain consensus in the international community and build “coalitions of the willing”.

When you are King Barry the Precious you don’t need none of that stuff.

slickwillie2001 on June 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

…and obama would know right? He is after all, a community organizer who formed his thought patterns by heavily chooming between quests to find the most marxist professor to align himself with.

Diluculo on June 19, 2014 at 12:25 PM

When your bestest buddies buy ink by the barrel (or bits by the gigaquad*), you don’t need to explain yourself to the hoi-polloi.

.
.
.
.
.
.

*I’m an engineer so yes I know ‘gigaquad’ isn’t real… see it’s a JOKE, see?

Tard on June 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM

And, the hard core Democrat will remain silent? For whom will they vote in November, everything is going just so,so great.

SC.Charlie on June 19, 2014 at 12:48 PM

In Obama’s own mind, even if he declared war against Iraq, he’d still have no need for Congressional approval – he is still the king and it is good to be the king.

evie1949 on June 19, 2014 at 12:54 PM

The AUMF for Iraq is almost certainly dormant and serves as no basis for any action in Iraq at this point.

However under the War Powers Act there is authority for Obama to engage in military intervention for a limited time before getting authorization from Congress for continued action.

But just because Obama has the legal authority doesn’t mean he has to be an obtuse, childish, go-it-alone prick about it. It’s amazing how incapable he is of extending any gesture of good will or toward Congress…and not just Republicans. He just can’t believe he has to deal with these people who are obviously so far beneath him.

Such a striking difference between Obama and Bush. GWB was always respectful of Congress and of the other party, even when they were in the minority. Even if he didn’t agree with them he still respected their role as members of Congress. He didn’t go around trashing them personally, building up strawmen, or disrespecting the institution.

Such a difference. It’s sad. Very sad.

Texas Zombie on June 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Sorry, the Constitution requires that Congress provide the President with a declaration before he may initiate a war.

Congress has no power to provide the President with a blanket declaration to start short wars.

The Iraq AUMF ended when Obama declared the Iraq War over. Obama may no more proceed on that prior AUMF than FDR could proceed on the WWI declaration of war to wage war against Germany in 1942.

Bart DePalma on June 19, 2014 at 1:38 PM

It’s a Muslim civil war. The only thing we should be doing is making popcorn selling outdated weapons to both sides.

rbj on June 19, 2014 at 8:53 AM

“If we were smart”, part 86274.

Rix on June 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM

If we were smart, we’d ask what’s in the best interests of the US instead of just assuming ignoring them was the best idea.

That attitude leads to walking away from Iraq without leaving any troops behind in 2011. Which seems like a good idea, except that Iraq then started cozying up to Iran because we would not be around to support them. Which, of course, leads the same people to believe they were proven right, because Iraq is cozying up to Iran, when part of the reason they’re doing it is because they can’t depend on us any more.

Now, if Iraq fights off the invaders, but only because Iran helped it, then Iran winds up with far more influence in Iran, which is hardly a good thing for the Middle East or for us. Right now, Iran is a weak power that has to resort to terrorism because it doesn’t have much military might. I’d rather they stay that way, myself.

ISIS is not directly threatening us at the moment, but even their name makes it clear that they have grand visions of becoming the new caliphate, and I don’t buy for a second that they won’t launch attacks against us if they can consolidate their power.

If Iran and ISIS could both lose, that would be fine with me. But one of them will win over the other one, and we have an interest in making sure that neither of them is strengthened and able to attack us.

And frankly, if Iraq is overwhelmed by either one, America does not look like a strong horse, and that alone is guaranteed to lead to more attacks on us.

Simplistic answers that amount to isolationism and hope that all our enemies will miraculously cancel each other out are NOT smart answers.

Just like it was not a smart answer after the initial Desert Storm to leave Saddam in power, and hope he was taken out by another enemy so we didn’t get our hands dirty.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 19, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Iran winds up with far more influence in Iran Iraq

Maybe I should do my proofreading before I hit “Submit Comment” ….

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 19, 2014 at 5:53 PM

Well, now we know that the 2002 AUMF was legitimate and that Bush did have the authority to do what he did, so Bush did not pursue an “illegal” war.

SouthernRoots on June 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Optimist.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 19, 2014 at 5:59 PM