Barack W. Bush: What’s old is new again
Given the debate over our intervention in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is questioning the loyalities of members of Congress that believe her boss, President Barack Obama, hasn’t followed the law in regards to the War Powers Resolution (WPR):
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is questioning the priorities of lawmakers criticizing the U.S. intervention in Libya.
She’s asking bluntly, “Whose side are you on?”
Clinton says Congress is free to raise objections but questions the priorities of the critics. She says the Obama administration and its partners are rightly siding with the Libyan people.
Glenn Greenwald has already made the parallels between the rhetoric from Bush Administration and Republicans in the run up (and after) the war in Iraq. Granted, Clinton’s says we’re “free to raise of objections,” but she is going to make it known that you hate America while you’re doing it (I’m being somewhat sarcastic, but that’s the implication of what she’s saying):
I’m sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and disagree with this administration, somehow you’re not patriotic. We need to stand up and say we’re Americans, and we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration.
Even John Yoo, certainly not an advocate of an executive branch with limited power, is even criticizing the expansive view of executive power that Obama has taken:
Obama’s opinion that the U.S. is not involved in “hostilities” in Libya is not merely “aggressive.” It is utterly farcical—on a level with Bill Clinton’s legendary statement that “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
The U.S. military mission in Libya involves firing missile strikes from drone aircraft—some of them obviously targeted at Libya’s ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, his family members, or leaders of his regime—suppressing Libyan air defenses; and providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to NATO allies. The Obama administration itself informed Congress this week that our military’s “unique assets” are “critical” to the NATO mission. The Pentagon estimates the cost of U.S. intervention at $1.1 billion through September 30.
If these are not hostilities, then what are? By Obama’s lights, President Nixon’s air campaign over Cambodia—the very kind of operation at which the WPR was aimed—would not count as “hostilities.” Nor would President Reagan’s decision to mine Nicaragua’s harbors, or President Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco. In those cases too, no U.S. ground forces were introduced; there was little to no risk of U.S. casualties; exchanges of fire were limited or non-existent. Likewise, by Obama’s test, a future president could launch multiple drone attacks on Venezuela if Hugo Chavez refused to step down—or even drop a nuclear weapon on downtown Caracas—without engaging the U.S. in “hostilities.”
Let’s be clear: Obama has the right result, but for the wrong reasons. He doesn’t need to contort the law beyond all recognition to wage war in Libya.
We’re talking about John Yoo here, someone that - as a friend said yesterday - should be standing trial, not offering commentary. But this isn’t Yoo merely criticizing a Democratic president, he has actually praised Obama’s turn toward the neoconservative view of foreign policy and defended him against criticism from Republicans that have criticized the intervention in Libya.
It’s worth noting that Yoo offers a view in his own perverted view of executive power that he deems the “right” course of action to take. Keep in my that I’m not saying Yoo has credibility, I just think it’s ironic that Obama has him as a critic for being too bold with executive power.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2008, former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) discussed the expansive view of executive power taken by the Bush Administration. Barr explained that “every administration in my view, and I think history bears this out, takes the power that it inherits from its predecessor and considers it a floor, not a ceiling.” It’s ironic that Obama, who was supposed to reign in the executive branch and be the anti-war president, has adopted the views of his predecessor and, in fact, expanded them: