The war drums are pounding and President Barack Obama is each day closer to taking military action against the Syrian government. There are major questions about why the U.S. would become involved in Syria, and whether or not the claim that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on citizens living in a Damascus suburb are based in fact. Administration officials say that military action against Syria would be done “not to create a regime change,” but some members of Congress aren’t buying it.
“If it’s not an effort to exact regime change then what is it?” asks Republican Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie. “Is it just retaliation? Is it bullying? Is it showing everybody in the world that we have missiles, and we can fire them into your country because we don’t like what we see?”
Congressman Massie talked exclusively with BenSwann.com about the push by the Obama Administration to draw the U.S. into war with Syria.
“When you deliver missiles into somebody’s country that is an act of war,” Massie said. “We can argue about whether having economic sanctions are an act of war, but clearly when you deliver missiles, if somebody delivered missiles into the central United States or anywhere on American territory that would be an act of war.”
Massie went on to talk about the claims made by Secretary of State John Kerry that there is “no doubt” that the President Bashar al Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons a week ago. Massie says the evidence is not clear at all.
“We don’t have proof of who used the weapons, or who used the gas,” he added. “And it is also not clear to me how you improve the situation where chemical weapons were used by delivering kinetic weapons. If we send in airstrikes or missiles from ships, it is not clear to me how killing more people is going to improve the situation.”
So, who has the authority to hold the administration accountable? The Congress of the United States. It is Congress, and Congress alone that has the authority to authorize an act of war against another nation. Back in June, Rep. Massie authored a bill titled the “War Power Protection Act of 2013.” At the time, he had 8 co-sponsors, but that number has now risen to 13. Rep. Massie says it is time for Congress to quit abdicating its responsibility on this matter and instead enforce its Constitutional authority to authorize or deny military involvement in Syria.
“There will be civilian causalities in any conflict,” Massie stated. “If we get involved we are going to cause civilian causalities, and I think that is wrong when our interests are not clear. It is morally wrong. And this is a country (Syria), by the way, that has not expressed aggression toward the United States at this point. And as you pointed out, we are not in a situation where there is an imminent threat to our wellbeing.”
The Congressman was referring to the 1973 War Powers Act which allows for the President to act without Congressional approval for 30 days. Where that act has been misrepresented by lawmakers and media, is that the Act only allows the President to do so if the United States is under threat of imminent attack. Congressman Massie’s bill, in addition to preventing the President from entering a war without Congressional approval, also blocks the U.S. from providing aid to the rebels in Syria.
“The bill itself deals with military or para-military purposes,” Massie said. “Obviously if we wanted to provide humanitarian aid, my bill would not prevent it.”
As to the question of whether or not a strike against Syria could lead to an impeachment of the President, Massie says that is doubtful.
“People have asked me, ‘would you bring impeachment proceedings against the President?'” Massie continued. “The harsh fact of the matter is that there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to affect an impeachment of the President. It requires a 2/3rds vote of the Senate, and before you get the process started, it requires a majority of the members on the judiciary committee.”
“People should encourage their Congressman to support my bill, its HR 2507,” the Kentucky congressman added. “It’s called the ‘War Powers Protection Act.’ We only have 13 brave souls in Congress who are co-sponsoring this bill, and it basically says that the President cannot intervene in Syria until he comes to Congress, it’s that simple.”
Of course, the role of Congress is not to sit back and do nothing while missiles are fired at another nation and then attempt to punish the President afterward. The job of Congress is to stand up before military action is taken. Rep. Massie warns the American people as well to watch out for language being used, even by House leadership when they say that the President must first “consult” with Congress.
“Our leadership in the House of Representatives says that the President should consult with Congress,” he concluded. “Our leadership is not asking them to come and get permission, and I think that the Administration needs to come and get permission. They can’t just come and talk to three or four members on the Foreign Affairs Committee or the Military Committee or just the leadership. They need to ask the entire body in the House of Representatives and in the Senate for authorization or for a declaration of war before he can proceed.”
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