Ted Cruz: Obama needs new authorization from Congress for these operations against ISIS

posted at 3:21 pm on August 13, 2014 by Allahpundit

Via Dave Weigel, a gloss from the tea-partier-in-chief on the legal status of the new mission in Iraq and thus a sneak preview of the battle to come next month when Congress is back in session.

In the House, I mean. You know there’s no way Dingy Harry will risk letting the Senate deny Obama authorization for the mission. If there’s even a slight chance that a new AUMF will fail, he’ll simply ignore it and go along with whatever the White House says about the president’s inherent power to wage war. As we’ve seen repeatedly, congressional Democrats give not a fart about the institutional prerogatives of their branch vis-a-vis The One.

After his speech to the Iowa FAMiLY Leader, and after he said that the president needed to come to Congress to approve more military action in Iraq, I asked him if the AUMF wasn’t sufficient for that.

“Congress has the authority to declare [war]” said Cruz. “Part of the reason that Congress has that check and balance on the president is that it forces him to explain: What is the military objective we’re trying to accomplish? I believe initiating new military hositilies in a sustained basis in Iraq obligates the president to go back to Congress and to make the case to seek congressional authorization.”

Cruz deftly stepped around a follow-up question, from the Daily Beast’s Ben Jacobs, about whether the War Powers Act that required this of the president was even constitutional.

Go figure that a senator with presidential aspirations would want to preserve some ambiguity in his views on the WPA. Weigel notes, though, that Obama pal Tim Kaine made a similar point, arguing that because the White House itself has claimed that the 2002 AUMF for war in Iraq should be deemed defunct, they’re required by their own logic to come to Congress for a new one. Makes sense to me, but demanding consistency of The One is a fool’s errand. He reversed himself on gay marriage once he settled on a “base turnout” strategy for 2012; he reversed himself on bombing Assad without congressional approval once he realized the public might not support it; and he’ll be reversing himself shortly on whether he has the power to legalize millions of illegals, since the hardcore amnesty fans on the left won’t leave him alone about it. He might be more reluctant to reverse himself on the Iraq AUMF just because opposition to the war in 2002 is part of Hopenchange’s genesis; if he used the authorization for “Bush’s war” to justify a new round of attacks in Iraq, the symbolism of it might alienate some liberals at an inopportune moment. That’s not how I’d bet — when have they ever really given him a hard time? — but it’s a risk.

If you’ve never read the text of the 2002 AUMF, incidentally, here you go. Most of it is about the “Iraqi regime” and Saddam’s noncompliance with UN mandates about WMD, but there’s language in there that could be stretched by the White House to try to cover these ISIS operations. To wit:

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;…

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40)…

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to–
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq;

“Iraq,” “ISIS,” whatever. Right, champ?

Actually, and quite unlike his M.O. on Libya, I think he’s going to go to Congress for authorization this time. The case for bombing jihadi degenerates before they overrun the country, including sympathetic groups like the Kurds and the Yazidis, is stronger than the case for bombing one side in a war between Sunni and Shiite fundamentalists in Syria. The fact that O has already begun operations will also bring wavering congressman around to his side, I think. The Pentagon’s had some modest success already in creating a bit of momentum for the peshmerga; yanking that now would feel like a death sentence. I’d be surprised if O didn’t get a majority of both caucuses voting yes, although there’ll be wrangling over the scope of the authority — which may be the White House’s main concern in going to Congress. The time may (and probably will) come when O wants to use Special Ops troops to target big-ticket ISIS operatives or assets; the AUMF he’d get from Congress, though, will probably prohibit the use of ground troops. Would he be willing to defy that constraint, including/especially if it got the votes of a majority of congressional Democrats? If not, maybe he’s better off not asking for an AUMF and daring Congress to reprimand him for it.

Update: Slam dunk.

ir


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He has the same authorization now as he did when he started bombing Libya.

Akzed on August 13, 2014 at 3:23 PM

No they went to Congress to get the CAUF repealed.

That means they view it as still actionable and by the bounds set by Congress in the CAUF it still IS ACTIONABLE as some of the goals set are completely unrealistic and NO ONE has dealt with them. I’ve read the CAUF and when one side walks away from the process to get to peace, then there is no peace. That is why the Administration wanted the CAUF repealed: the Administration couldn’t get to PEACE.

ajacksonian on August 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

No, he doesn’t… by any stretch of the constitutional imagination. Whining for the sake of whining.

Kaptain Amerika on August 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Get the approval for obamas war

cmsinaz on August 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM

He reversed himself on gay marriage once he settled on a “base turnout” strategy for 2012

Come on AP, the Dem base didn’t turnout on that issue.

He reversed himself, because after Citizens United, he needed more Hollyweird and gay money to fill his coffers.

sentinelrules on August 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM

I thought it was ISIL…?

d1carter on August 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

As we’ve seen repeatedly, congressional Democrats give not a fart about the institutional prerogatives of their branch vis-a-vis The One.

The thugs like tyranny, believing that their tyrants are forever.

Isn’t the Susan Rice letter to congress, asking to kill the old authorization, an ironic timing?

That “chimpey” killed this oaf is ironic.

That obama will knock off, for good, Hillary in 2016, will be even more so.

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Cruz seems to forget that the Constitution allows for initial action by a President, which got further restricted under the War Powers act. Jefferson himself took advantage of this dealing with Tripoli. He doesn’t need to ask for Congressional approval for another sixty days, but he definitely has to notify them. I’m curious if he did, considering the actions taken during Libya concerning the War Powers Act.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Is Weigel in the new Journolist 2…?

d1carter on August 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

If this isn’t the sweetest of sweet stuff to behold then I’m Ethyl Merman.

The demorat senate staying quiet while the GOP house demands congressional approval for demorat preznit Dog Eater to drop bombs on little brown people in Iraq, of all places.

ROFL

Bishop on August 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Shouldn’t they all be ending their vacations early and getting back to Washington?

Not just Barry but Congress.

cat_owner on August 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Will the Special Ops be issued Choom sandals since he said no boots on the ground….?

d1carter on August 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I disagree with the president on just about everything. On this, I only disagree with the speed of his efforts and strategy.

The president is strongest in his role as CinC. His legal grounding is firmest in that regard.

We should give any president wide latitude with respect to that duty given the particular circumstances. Most especially when genocide is occurring and people are dying by the minute.

Just curious: why isn’t Congress back in town if they are so concerned? That’s what I thought. Cruz is playing a game here, and it doesn’t reflect well on him.

Now in terms of the ground game, we should already be more forceful in engaging this enemy and weakening them before they present an even greater threat to our security. Occasional strikes just force them to be more cautious and discreet in their movements. I’ve read the reports of atrocities. They should be mowed down with extreme prejudice wherever they exist. No matter what it takes.

But I don’t expect the president to move to quickly. He’s too concerned with using these Barbarians and their supporters as a weapon against Assad. He is overtly concerned about the political optics. Otherwise there would already be a mission underway.

Marcus Traianus on August 13, 2014 at 3:40 PM

“If you want just 100 percent and the notion is that the winner really does take all—all the spoils—sooner or later that government is going to break down.” – President Obama to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, August 8, 2014.

“Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” – President Obama to House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, January 23, 2009.

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2014 at 3:41 PM

We already have boots on the ground. They are being called assessors.

Techster64 on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Cruz is certainly a distinguished lawyer but I’m a little surprised to see him take this position.

MTF on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Ted – just my opinion – but for right now – just STFU

jake-the-goose on August 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

He’s right of course. But the Regime will do whatever it needs to do to undermine the enemy.

And by “enemy” I mean House Republicans, not ISIS.

forest on August 13, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Cruz is certainly a distinguished lawyer but I’m a little surprised to see him take this position.

MTF on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

I haven’t seen him in the news in a while, maybe he’s just letting people know he’s still breathing.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

forest on August 13, 2014 at 3:49 PM

So, Thomas Jefferson was the enemy, hmm? That guy just had no idea what the Constitution meant. lol

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

And if you do think the last CAUF was completed and there is a peace system in place in Iraq, and we are still working with Iraq, then part of that agreement is to help the Nation when it is beset by pirates: ISIS fits that definition.

Congress might not pay for that, but a President responding to a fellow Nation State that we have some sort of peace and reciprocity agreement with, plus agreements to help them, has a compelling reason to do so. And as the Senate signed on to a treaty… then there is the Congressional part of the agreement already baked into the support.

And ISIS is NOT a foreign State nor military group with accountable control system over them. When they put on uniforms, hoist a flag, show who they are going to protect and which war treaties they are going to sign on to, then you might have something.

As it is they are human locust.

So if there is no outstanding CAUF, then there is a peace process in place, otherwise the CAUF would be outstanding. If there is a peace process it can be pointed to and the agreement utilized for helping a Nation that we have the agreement with that were former combatants.

If we walked away from the process,the CAUF is outstanding as you did not get to peace.

The final interesting part is that if Iraq was just a Nation that we had no real agreements with and it was being overrun by pirates, then the President has a compelling reason to come to the aid of a fellow Nation State… even one he doesn’t like too much. Because if these pirates start taking down Nations then the whole order of international law will spin apart as lawlessness spreads until someone can stop it.

War is simple and when you don’t end them cleanly they go on far, far longer taking more lives and giving politicians a chance to waffle their way to larger rivers of blood. War is not a sport, not a game, and not frivolous: it is horror we visit upon our enemies so that it isn’t visited upon us. And when man thinks he can wage war all on his lonesome, then savage man, predatory man, has reappeared and there is no trusting them at all as they are only accountable to the Law of Nature red of tooth and claw.

We used to understand this before the 20th century.

Sadly we are now not as civilized as we once were.

ajacksonian on August 13, 2014 at 3:52 PM

So, Thomas Jefferson was the enemy, hmm? That guy just had no idea what the Constitution meant. lol

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Thomas Jefferson was a House Republican? I did not know that.

forest on August 13, 2014 at 3:55 PM

That “chimpey” killed this oaf is ironic.

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2014 at 3:30 PM

What does this mean?

Midas on August 13, 2014 at 3:55 PM

We already have boots on the ground. They are being called assessors. Techster64 on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Noticed that, I think it was AP called them assessors about four times in their 8:00 broadcast this morning, as if that’s an old military term everyone should be familiar with.

Akzed on August 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Hopey does not need stink’n Congress,
he has a Unicorn Pen and Utopia phone!!

canopfor on August 13, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Ted Cruz: Obama needs new authorization from Congress for these operations against ISIS

.
NO, he does not
.
Keep bombing….
.
Bombs Away! Pick up the pace and get some RPG and bigger artillery in there too… just drop it for the Kurds and let them pick it up and blast away.
.
You are welcome! Have fun, guys! Kill a bunch!

ExpressoBold on August 13, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Very true.
The war is illegal

weedisgood on August 13, 2014 at 4:01 PM

forest on August 13, 2014 at 3:55 PM

The premise being Cruz is right:

He’s right of course.

and the conclussion being GOP being the enemy.

Jefferson himself used force without Congressional approval, getting it well after the orders were signed. So the implication that Cruz is correct is empirically false, unless you’re suggesting that Jeffersen and Co. (he wasn’t rebuked by Congress, because his actions were legal) didn’t understand the Constitution they labored to write.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM

If this isn’t the sweetest of sweet stuff to behold then I’m Ethyl Merman.

The demorat senate staying quiet while the GOP house demands congressional approval for demorat preznit Dog Eater to drop bombs on little brown people in Iraq, of all places.

ROFL

Bishop on August 13, 2014 at 3:31 PM

You mentioned Ethel Merman?? here ya go!!

This clip is appropo!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4Pv8WWvcAs

ToddPA on August 13, 2014 at 4:05 PM

From IOWA,————————–Hopey The World KAOS Destroyer:
===================================================================

https://twitter.com/SenTedCruz

Senator Ted Cruz @SenTedCruz · Aug 8

The Obama foreign policy has created chaos across the globe and has made the world much more dangerous https://soundcloud.com/senator-ted-cruz/sen-ted-cruz-with-simon-conway-1
SoundCloud

https://soundcloud.com/senator-ted-cruz/sen-ted-cruz-with-simon-conway-1

canopfor on August 9, 2014 at 8:07 PM

canopfor on August 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

We already have boots on the ground. They are being called assessors.

Techster64 on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

President Kennedy called them “military advisers” in Vietnam.

portlandon on August 13, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Calling advisors, assessors and operators on station “boots on the ground” is like calling a foot in the car driving.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Ted Cruz: Obama needs new authorization from Congress for these operations against ISIS

Well he would, if congress had it’s job in the first place instead of cutting a blank check AUMF. But they didn’t, so cruz get’s a healthy helping of STFU, as usual.

Tlaloc on August 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM

msdnc hacks think obama doesn’t need no stinkin approval from congress

cmsinaz on August 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM

If he approaches Congress, it’s no longer Bush’s war right? Maybe Cruz is hoping the lefties or voted for Obama precisely because he would get everyone out of Iraq will have their heads explode.

Ukiah on August 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Special Forces:

Iraq crisis
3m

US Special Forces have landed on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar to assess potential mission to rescue Yazidi refugees – @NBCNews
End of alert

canopfor on August 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM

canopfor on August 13, 2014 at 4:35 PM

msdnc hacks think obama doesn’t need no stinkin approval from congress
cmsinaz on August 13, 2014 at 4:33 PM

You probably might want to take some time reading the law and history. For a short op all he needs to do is inform Congress. Not that they have the nuts to do anything if he doesn’t or goes over his alotted time under the WPA. He didn’t it in Libya under the argument “Hey, NATO’s running the show now…”

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:37 PM

If it evolves out of the realm of a small yield, short duration op, that’s a different story.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Obama reversed himself on gay marriage once he settled on a “base turnout” strategy for 2012.

Obama reversed himself on gay marriage just days after Romney secured the R nomination. That was not a coincidence. Obama knew full well that Romney would respond tepidly at best to Obama’s action. Imagine if Rick Perry for example had gotten the nomination; Obama would have never done that.

Anyway, sure enough, Romney gave … no response to Obama’s gay proclamation. Nevertheless, conservatives were on fire in July of 2012, led by Huckabee, about the ChickFilA case. And guess what? Romney was asked about ChickFilA in early August 2012, and Romney said “that’s not what my campaign is about.” Romney didn’t even offer a cursory line of support for ChickFilA’s free speech rights. The result was to snuff out the fire that was growing among conservatives and independents on the traditional marriage issue, and demoralize conservatives. This had been Obama’s hope, that Romney’s lackadaisical response to Obama’s gay marriage proclamation would in fact demoralize conservatives, and also have the effect of cementing support for gay marriage. And we can also safely say that there were a lot reasons for the 6 million vote strong “missing white vote,” but a contributing factor was the cold shoulder that Romney displayed to the enthusiasm conservatives had for traditional marriage. That’s another major reason why Romney is and would be a horrible candidate.

anotherJoe on August 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM

anotherJoe on August 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM

::blink:: Are you on the wrong thread or did I miss something?

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Since the War Powers Act is an unconstitutional political bludgeon used mostly by the Demos, he doesn’t, but it’s nice to see somebody beat the Lefties with their own 2×4.

formwiz on August 13, 2014 at 4:43 PM

If Ted Cruz was posting here the last few days he’d be branded a troll.

Quite a few John Yoo Styled hawks here.

Raquel Pinkbullet on August 13, 2014 at 4:47 PM

No, he does not need to get approval from Congress.

His justification for doing whatever he wants can be summarized in two words, “Unchallenged precedence.”

He did it in Libya and got away with it. He was prepared to bomb Syria and would have gotten away with it. He’ll bomb or do whatever he want in Iraq and get away with it.

Hasn’t Obama’s arbitrary administrative change to laws, unauthorized airstrikes in Libya, and his soon to be immigration “reforms” (i.e. executive pardons, issuing work permits) firmly establish presidential precedence for future presidents to act likewise to bolster their pet projects?

Let’s face it, other than opposition rhetoric Obama’s lawless acts have gone completely unchallenged. He has demonstrated through his actions he and future Presidents are “more equal” than the other two branches of government. He has firmly established he can get away with executive orders that no other president has dreamed of and as a result he has given future president a glimpse of what they can safely get away with.

I’m certainly no lawyer or “Constitutional Lecturer” but it seems to me future presidents can assume that a legal precedent has been established and I don’t see any way that it can be undo.

Am I wrong?

E9RET on August 13, 2014 at 4:48 PM

formwiz on August 13, 2014 at 4:43 PM

WPA provided clear detail on a fuzzy Constitutional issue, based on actions taken by the very Presidents that helped to write the document. Scream unconstitutional all you want, you’re basically saying Jefferson and the like were acting unconsitutionally by exercising small operations without direct Congressional approval.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:53 PM

::blink:: Are you on the wrong thread or did I miss something?

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM

I could see how that could seem to be on the wrong thread, but I was just adding my 2¢ to AP’s statement in this post about Obama’s reason for his gay marriage proclamation. Sure, a make the base happy strategy was at play, but I really think that the main thing that made Obama’s gay proclamation happen was the squish Romney’s nomination.

anotherJoe on August 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

anotherJoe on August 13, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Gotcha, makes more sense now. lol.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:04 PM

You misread my original comment and then went on a strange tangent about Thomas Jefferson. I assume you are invoking the Barbary Pirates episode, but it’s tough to sort through your scattered thoughts. Try taking you medicine at least an hour before commenting.

forest on August 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Since the War Powers Act is an unconstitutional political bludgeon used mostly by the Demos, he doesn’t, but it’s nice to see somebody beat the Lefties with their own 2×4.

formwiz on August 13, 2014 at 4:43 PM

CW on August 13, 2014 at 7:18 PM

you’re basically saying Jefferson and the like were acting unconsitutionally by exercising small operations without direct Congressional approval.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:53 PM

And?

CW on August 13, 2014 at 7:22 PM

But a new AUMF would require Congress to do something!

PersonFromPorlock on August 13, 2014 at 7:24 PM

There are many good reasons for Obama not to ask for congressional approval, and few reasons to ask for it.

Good reasons not to ask for it include: 1) It doesn’t require Democrats to go on record as being for or against the action, so they can later claim they were either for or against it in keeping with whether they think it will help or hurt them politically, 2) He can’t run for re-election, so if his approval rating goes in the toilet should things go sour, why worry?, 3) He can claim he could not afford the Republicans turning down authorization for a ‘humanitarian mission’, so he used his executive authority (like usual), 4) Even if it is totally illegal, impeachment and conviction are never going to happen, because Joe Biden, 5) Asking would imply that he doesn’t have the authority to do whatever he wants, and might crimp his style later when he decides to nuke Denmark for whatever reason, 6) Asking would require humility, 7) Arrogance.

Good reasons to ask for it include: 1) Requiring Republicans to go on record as for or against action, 2) Providing an occasion in which he can claim he respects the separation of powers principles, and ‘working together’ with the opposition, 3) Sharing the blame if things go sour.

On the whole, it seems better from Obama’s perspective, not to ask.

s1im on August 13, 2014 at 7:48 PM

The president can authorize military action – he’s the commander in chief. That’s in the job description. What he can’t do is declare war. Cruz is right only if you think a week of limited airstrikes in support of humanitarian missions is a “war”.

triple on August 14, 2014 at 12:01 AM

Cruz is certainly a distinguished lawyer but I’m a little surprised to see him take this position.

MTF on August 13, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Cruz will always take the alternative position. Obama could declare his love for puppies and ice cream and in the next second Cruz would be on CNN telling everyone that cats are obviously superior and ice cream makes you fat.

triple on August 14, 2014 at 12:05 AM