Breitbart’s team caught this exchange between Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and SecDef Leon Panetta. Panetta argues that the president does not need any sort of approval from Congress to wage war, but that international permission is what matters.
Panetta does admit that the regime might inform Congress of the use of force, after the fact. That’s something Congress will have learned from Drudge by the time the regime gets around to talking about it.
It may be quaint to bring this up, but the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 does not agree with Mr. Panetta.
The War Powers Act puts some flesh on the bones of Article 1, Section 8. The WPA’s constitutionality has been questioned from the moment of its passage, but the Obama regime was the first to openly and intentionally violate its 90-day limit, in the 2011 Libya conflict.
It may also be quaint to bring this up, but in 2004 Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for the presidency, declared that he believed in a “global test” to determine whether and when to use American force. That declaration quickly became a campaign issue, and was among the factors that cost him the election. Americans do not believe that we need permission from any other country or from some nebulous “international community” in order to use force.
Yet here we are 8 years after John Kerry’s “global test,” and the sitting defense secretary is openly declaring that an international test trumps the US Constitution in matters of war.
Having said all of the above, I’d caution Republicans in how to handle this. Like the Sandra Fluke fracas, Panetta’s words here are a trap. He is framing the regime as being stronger than Republicans on matters of defense. Note his tone, and how he says that they will not hesitate to use force to defend the United States. They will inform Congress of action taken. He’s carving out additional war powers not granted in the Constitution or law. And, by the way, they’ll seek permission from NATO (which is really an extension of the US) or the UN when they feel like it. So Panetta’s take is not exactly the same as Kerry’s. They sound similar, but Panetta’s has an authoritarian streak that Kerry’s lacked.