Washington Press Conference Hears
Warnings: Congress Must Reassert
Its Constitutional War Power Now!
Sept. 24, 2012 (EIRNS)A highly qualified trio of experts joined Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) at a press conference convened by Rep. Jones on Capitol Hill on Sept. 21, to warn in no uncertain terms, that if Congress did not reassert its Constitutional power over declaring war by voting up Jones' House Concurrent Resolution 107, the Obama Administration was likely to provoke a new devastating conflict in the short term.
The video record and full transcript of this highly timely one-hour press conference is available at www.larouchepac.com.
After being introduced by moderator Jeffrey Steinberg of EIR, Rep. Jones briefly explained his motivation behind HCR 107, which simply reasserts the Constitutional clause on Congress' responsibility to declare war, and states that any president who does not get Congressional authorization before entering war, will be immediately subject to impeachment. At present, HCR 107 has 12 cosponsors. Rep. Jones noted that Obama's decision to bomb Libya unilaterally played a big role in his motivation, and rued the fact that Congress did not even hold a hearing on his bill. He then introduced a panel comprised of Lt. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.) former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell), constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein (Associate Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan), and Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, author of "Operation Dark Heart" exposing the Pentagon data-mining program known as Able Danger.
Col. Wilkerson identified Rep. Jones's initiative to prevent President Obama from launching a new war unilaterally, as "one of the most important points we confront today." He noted that the U.S. presidency has found it increasingly easy to go to war. "In the last decade, by conservative Pentagon estimates, we have killed over 300,000 people. That's a sobering thought, especially when there is no existential threat to the United States of America whatsoever." We should be ashamed, as Americans, to think we allowed this, and the destruction of the U.S. military, to happen. All because of "the facility with which the President of the United States can take this apathetic nation to war, and kill people!"
Bruce Fein, who has himself drafted articles of impeachment for President George W. Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and President Obama, took off from Col. Wilkerson's discussion of the death toll from the illegal wars. "Those 300,000 killings are murder," he said. "If you're not at war legally, those are homicides." He then reviewed the history of warfare as an expression of the imperial impulse, which, he documented, is why "every single Founding Father" at the Constitutional Convention opposed giving the Executive the sole power to declare war. Combining legislative, executive, and judicial power in one man, who is also an executioner, is "the very definition of tyranny."
Fein took on the arguments from what he called the "invertebrate branch," Congress, against launching impeachment, because impeachment is allegedly "too radical." He reviewed at some depth the disasters and "blowback," which have been the result of the Executive's unilateral decision to go to war, starting with Libya, but including as well Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Kosovo.
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer began by endorsing HCR 107, and then launched into an indictment of the current U.S. system as a continuation of the imperial tradition, going all the way back to the Roman Empire. "We have a system of adjudication, of assassination, at the senior level, that allows for the sovereign to do whatever the heck he wants," he charged. We must have Congress take an active role, he argued. Why don't we have a debate about going to war, he asked. He concluded with his statement on how important HCR 107 is:
"[It's important] Not simply because it is something we're saying, that if it's passed, we'll have an impeachment potential for the President. It's more important that we use this to bring ourselves back to a point of sanity, a point of understanding the need for debate, the need to have a reconciliation of our country's actions, with our intent with what we were founded on, with our Founding Fathers, 'cause there's a huge amount of daylight there, between what we are today, and what our Founding Fathers intended us to be."
The Danger of Thermonuclear War
Before opening up for questions, moderator Steinberg read a statement written for the conference by Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, a retired Marine Corps four-star general, who was both Chief of Staff and later the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Central Command.
"In their great wisdom, our Founding Fathers, gathered in Philadelphia to draft the new U.S. Constitution, gave the sole authority to declare war to the U.S. Congress. Having just waged a successful revolution to free themselves from the British Monarchy, our Founders understood that it was essential, to secure a representative form of republican self-government, that the power to declare war must be in the hands of Congress, and not in the Executive Branch. They were committed to preventing any form of monarchy or dictatorship.
"Nothing has transpired in the intervening centuries to justify any alteration in their wise decision. Under our Federal Constitution, only the Congress has the power to declare war, and that must remain a cardinal principle. In recent decades, we have seen an erosion of that Constitutional principle, and I fully concur that this erosion must be halted and reversed."
Steinberg also emphasized, in short remarks, that the war danger to which the previous speakers had alluded, was being viewed by the Russian and Chinese leadership as representing the threat of "general war," which would become "thermonuclear war" leading to "thermonuclear extinction."
During the Question and Answer period, Col. Wilkerson expounded at length, in response to a question from German political leader Helga Zepp-LaRouche, on the danger that any new war, particularly one against Iran, could lead into a thermonuclear confrontation between the U.S. and the Russians, that could lead to the extinction of civilization. Drawing on his history of study of Iran, and his participation in a recent study, conducted by a grouping of 35 former U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence officials reprsenting the highest levels of the institutions of the U.S. government, on the implications of an Israeli attack on Iran, Col. Wilkerson was specific. The requirements for regime change against Iran are "10 years, 500,000 troops, and $3 trillion," he said, but, yes, indeed, it could definitely spread, as could a NATO no-fly zone over Syria, to confrontation between NATO and Russia.
Bruce Fein made the final comment, once again passionately challenging the Congress, and the public, to return to the ideas on which the United States was based, the idea of a republic.