John Yoo

Obama, once the anti-war candidate, now fully embraces the Bush doctrine of preemptive unilateral war


Democrats swept into control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections on a wave of discontent with the Iraq war and then-President Bush’s foreign adventurism. President Obama campaigned over the next two years as the explicitly anti-war candidate. He was the only Democrat running who had opposed the war in Iraq, though he wasn’t in Congress to have to vote for it at the time. Now President Obama is explicitly embracing the Bush doctrine of preemptive war to pretend he has authority to unilaterally attack the ISIS forces in Iraq.

On Wednesday evening, Obama made a primetime address to the nation to explain the strategy against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which he said he didn’t have last week. In the address and an interview on Meet the Press the Sunday before, he said he already has the authority to pursue that strategy, which John Yoo, a former Bush administration official who literally wrote the memo on Bush’s war powers, says is exactly the same as Bush’s.

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:

Gene Healy on Obama’s defense of war in Libya

As I noted yesterday, Obama Administration claimed this week that we are not at war in Libya. It’s an absurd suggestion that has even Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) giving credit to former President George W. Bush for at least obtaining approval from Congress before waging a misguided war in Iraq.

Gene Healy, author of The Cult of the Presidency, has unloaded on the defense of the war in Libya offered by President Obama’s legal team:

Yesterday, in response to Speaker John Boehner’s (R-IN) request, the president issued a new explanation for why he isn’t in violation of the [War Powers Resolution], which requires the president to terminate US engagement in “hostilities” after 60 days in the absence of congressional authorization. And it turns out that, per Obama, not only is the Libyan War not a “war,” what we’re doing in Libya—supporting, coordinating, and carrying out attacks—doesn’t even rise to the level of “hostilities.”

The president’s report states that he hasn’t violated the WPR, because “U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the Resolution’s 60 day termination provision”:  they don’t “involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof.”

When did Barack Obama become John Yoo?

President Barack Obama made his case for his unauthorized intervention “kinetic military action” in Libya last night, which may or may not be helping al-Qaeda. And while many Democrats don’t want to admit it, he sounds much more like John Yoo, who served as George W. Bush’s Justice Department and authored memos that gave the administration its legal rationale for use of tortue, than like the man that ran as the anti-war candidate in 2008:

Mr. Obama’s exercise of war powers in Libya is firmly in the tradition of American foreign policy. Throughout our history, neither presidents nor Congress have acted under the belief that the Constitution requires a declaration of war before the U.S. can conduct military hostilities abroad. We have used force abroad more than 100 times but declared war in only five cases: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American and Spanish-American Wars, and World Wars I and II.

Individual Liberty or National Security: Bob Barr v. John Yoo

During a recent event sponsored by the University of Chicago Law School’s Federalist Society, former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) and John Yoo, whose legal opinions paved the way for the Bush Administration to subvert the Constitution and Bill of Rights, squared off for a debate on national security and individual liberty during wartime.

Here is the debate in its entirety:

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