As some of you may know, we were asked at the beginning of June if I would debate Jeff Crank one on one regarding the War in Iraq. We accepted, on the record with a press release, because I feel it is important for all the candidates to be involved in any forum prior to the primary. Last week we found out that the Republicans were having their own debate on the War in Iraq.
Since I am the only candidate with ground combat experience, to include being part of the first invasion of Iraq, I felt I should be included and said so. The debate was on the evening of 5 July at VFW Post 101 and according to the Gazette, open to the public, so I attended. Three of the Republican candidates were in favor of including me, one was neutral, and two, Jeff Crank and Lionel Rivera were opposed. I was offered two minutes prior to the debate to address the crowd, which I did and encouraged the candidates to address the following questions based on current US military doctrine:
How does the War in Iraq support the Global War on Terrorism?
What are the President's Goals and Objectives in Iraq?
How do we know when these Goals and Objectives have been achieved?
What do we want Iraq to look like when we leave?
Is the area of Southwest Asia more or less stable today than in 2003?
None of these questions were answered in the course of the evening, and, since the forum was closed to questions from the floor, I didn't have a chance to ask them again.
What I did hear was some of the most tortured constitutional assertions that I have ever heard in my life and I now know why Jeff Crank and Lionel Rivera did not want me involved.
Jeff Crank keeps talking about how Congress agreed to support the President and should now shut off any further discussion of the war. I have some news for Jeff; only Congress can declare war, its in that pesky Constitution. In this case the President did not ask for or get a declaration of war; he received a resolution which he signed into law. On October 16, 2002 President Bush signed into law Resolution 114. This legislation was an authorization for the use of force against Iraq. This was not a declaration of war and it did not give the President unlimited authority in using the military in Iraq and specifically referenced requirements under the War Powers Act.
"(a) Authorization.--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; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions regarding Iraq."
Jeff presents himself as an expert on Congressional staffing; obviously that doesn't include reading the Constitution.
I refer him to Article I, Section 8, "The Congress shall have Power To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;". Federalist 24 and 25 provide amplification of who wages and who declares war.
Lionel was similarly confused about the role of Congress as one of three branches of government with a responsibility to address national issues.
In short what I heard was a dangerous tendency to blindly support the President in matters of military force. I wonder if they would have said the same thing about Nixon, or Clinton.