Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Live In Interesting Times

Wow. No one could have anticipated that the super-scary photo of Iranian missiles might have been Photoshopped:
For its part, Agence France-Presse retracted its four-missile version this morning, saying that the image was “apparently digitally altered” by Iranian state media. The fourth missile “has apparently been added in digital retouch to cover a grounded missile that may have failed during the test,” the agency said.

But hey, three missiles or four, what does it matter? Either way it’s still super scary, right?

Meanwhile, at a think tank far, far away, nervous old white men get to work:

Former secretaries of state James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher issued a report today calling the 1973 War Powers Resolution "impractical and ineffective." They urged the next president and Congress to repeal the law and replace it with a new one, the "War Powers Consultation Act of 2009," within 100 days of the new president taking office.

In the report, done under the auspices of the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs, the National War Powers Commission notes that all presidents have side-stepped the 1973 law's requirement to file a report to Congress once hostilities start. "This is not healthy. It does not promote the rule of law. It does not send the right message to our troops or to the public. And it does not encourage dialogue or cooperation between the two branches," co-chairs Baker and Christopher and their fellow commissioners write.

I see. Our warring presidents have failed to turn in their homework, Congress has failed to hold them accountable, so the entire law is bad.

So let’s replace it with a law that doesn’t address the key issue of warmongering--how much power does a war time president really have?--and instead gives the executive branch all the power it needs to wage any war it wants.

The new law that the commission proposes is silent on the more than two-century old constitutional debate on what war powers belong with the executive and legislative branches of government. It focuses on the practical, repealing the 1973 law and establishing a Joint Congressional Consultation Committee. The president would be required to consult with this committee before ordering U.S. armed forces into "significant armed conflict." The president would not have to secure Congress' approval, however, but merely consult, and the president could wait until three days after the beginning of conflict if the need for secrecy makes consultation beforehand risky.

Oh, I feel so much better now, knowing that the POTUS would have to consult with a committee, but not be obliged to adhere to anything that committee recommends. Brilliant.

It gets better:

Another section of the proposed bill gives Congress more of a say, requiring it to hold a timely vote after the initiation of hostilities. If a resolution of approval is defeated, than a resolution of disapproval would be introduced. It would become law--and force an end to U.S. troop involvement--only if the president signs it, or it is passed over the president's veto.

Ah yes, because after the initiation of hostilities is always the best time to decide if we should have gone to war in the first place. It’s worked so well for us in Iraq.

So in other words, all we need is our clueless press to push doctored photos of an Iranian missile test, Rush Limbaugh and the clowns at Fox News and CNN to send super-scary messages about links to terrorist groups and hidden WMDs, and the president can declare war against whomever he/she wants with absolutely no regrets? It will be the Iraq fiasco times ten.

What could possibly go wrong?

Then again, we could just abide by what’s already in the Constitution:

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution, sometimes referred to as the War Powers Clause, vests in the Congress the exclusive power to declare war, in the following wording:

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

I don’t think we want to change that.