Leon Panetta cites UN & NATO, not Congress,
as 'legal basis' for military action
Panetta: UN Approval, Not Congressional Action, Can Justify Military Strike on Syria
by William Grigg
The Obama administration can obtain “legal” authority for a military strike on Syria from the UN or NATO, and no congressional authorization is necessary, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insisted during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“When it comes to the kind of military action where we want to build a coalition with our international partners, then we would like to have some kind of legal basis on which to do it, as we did in Libya,” Panetta said during an extended colloquy with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).
Significantly, the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya was coordinated by the NATO alliance (a regional UN affiliate), which acted on the supposed authority provided by a UN Security Council resolution issued in response to a petition from the Arab League. Congress played no role whatsoever in authorizing the action. As Republic has previously noted, the same Power Elite players who choreographed the Libyan intervention have revised that script, re-casting Bashir Assad in the role played by the late Muamar Ghadafi – and Secretary Panetta made it plain that the administration intends to leave Congress on the cutting room floor once again.
“Do you think you can act without Congress to initiate a no-fly zone in Syria – without congressional approval?” asked Sen. Sessions.
“Our goal would be to seek international permission,” replied Panetta, adding – as if by way of patronizing afterthought – that “we would come to the Congress and inform you” about the progress of the unconstitutional onslaught against Syria. Once “legal permission” had been granted by NATO or “some kind of UN Security Council resolution,” he maintained, Obama wouldn’t need authorization from Congress.
“They provide no legal authority,” Sessions observed with more than a hint of exasperation coloring his voice. “The only legal authority to deploy the United States military is the Congress and the president … and the Constitution.”
Clinging tenaciously to his scripted talking points, Panetta replied that the Constitution entrusts the president with the authority to act in defense of the United States – a consideration that doesn’t apply in this case, since we have never been attacked nor threatened by Syria – but when the U.S. joins an international coalition, no congressional authorization is necessary: A permission slip from the UN or NATO will suffice.
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