Reality Check: Expansion Of Presidential War Powers

By Ben Swann email | bio

(FOX19) - Thursday, the House voted on a bill, that if passed, will be the biggest ever unconstitutional reshaping of government powers.

Here's what Congress did.  Members passed House Bill 1540 by a vote of 322 to 96.  That is the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012.

The bill authorizes appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy.  But in that bill there is one section that is startling.  Section 1034.

Section 1034 states:  "The United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad;"

The bill gives the President   "the authority to use all necessary and appropriate force during the current armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces…. the President's authority...includes the authority to detain belligerents...until the termination of hostilities."

Here is what Texas Congressman Ron Paul said in the House chamber as the bill was passed.

"The current proposal would allow a president to pursue war at any time, any place for any reason without Congressional approval.  Many believe this would even permit the use of military activity against American suspects here at home."  Says Rep. Paul.

That's what it may do, but here is what it will do for sure.  Under this bill, the U.S. President doesn't need permission from Congress for any war against al-Queda, Taliban or "associated forces" anywhere in the world.  Essentially that creates an endless war that can be ever expanded throughout the world.  And by listing "associated forces", that means the war can also be expanded against anyone or any group of people.  And those people, even U.S. citizens under this bill, can be arrested and held without charge until the "termination of hostilities".  That means until the endless war comes to an end?

Section 1034 drew enough criticism that Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan offered an amendment that would strike 1034 from the bill.  That amendment was defeated by a vote of 187 to  234.

I checked on how the members of Congress from our area voted on the Amash amendment.  Congressman Steve Chabot voted against the amendment and to keep Section 1034.

Congressman Jean Schmidt voted to keep the section.  

Congressman Chabot's office released this statement on why he voted against the amendment:

"Our nation continues to be threatened by Al Qaeda and other terrorists organizations, and these groups continue to evolve in both structure and operations.  This amendment, if enacted, would limit the ability of our military to use force against and protect our citizens from such terrorists."

Congressman Schmidt's office released this statement: 

"Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the nature of the terrorist threat to the United States has changed.  Unfortunately, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force enacted shortly thereafter has not been updated to reflect this fact.  The President must have the authority to pursue and detain terrorists.  Section 1034 of the National Defense Authorization Act makes clear that the President has that authority."

Here's what you need to know.

This bill is not a done deal.  The Senate still needs to vote and section 1034 could be taken out then.

Also, the White House has put out a statement expressing its disapproval of parts of this defense bill saying that the administration strongly objects to section 1034.  If so, and that section gets to his desk.. the president can prove his objection by vetoing the bill.

If not,  this bill becomes law of the land while standing in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution.

And that is Reality Check.

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