MB, thanks for pointing out my omission. I feel strongly about providing references to quotes, and just plain forgot on the actual AUMF wording I posted. I just added it into the original post above, but for ease of finding it I’ll also post it here for those that have already gone through the long post above. Sorry ’bout that, and thanks.
I won’t get too hung up on the “Martial Law” debate that’s being thrown around at this point. The AUMF awaiting a quick vote in the Senate doesn’t mention that term, unless I just plain missed it. I don’t think the mention of the term is all that important. Yes, it’s a hot-button term for many (myself included), but if the President exercised his authority under this Authorization, the effect is what would be important, not what he called it. My aging brain may be forgetting it, but I don’t recall Bush ever declaring martial law in New Orleans – but even then, that didn’t stop him. This goes even further, by ceding Congress’ authority entirely to the President, at his wish and (literally) command, from my reading of it. (Oh – big deal – he has to report back to Congress ever 60 days on his use of his powers. [sarc/OFF] )
Basically, my concern about this new “Authorization” is that it simply hearkens back to the War Powers Act of 1973, and plays word games of justification through the vast majority of the “Whereas’s,” and then weaves in the middle of three “Whereas” statements I included in my post. There, Congress is effectively saying, “The President can do whatever he wants to do, all the way to the absolute limit of his authority, and we [Congress] hereby add our authority as well to his capabilities.” This 2011 NYT article, concerning the mess we had with Presidential “authority” with respect to our incursion into Libya, is an excellent step toward understanding the extremely slippery slope of almost undefined “authorities” available here. I maintain the War Powers Act is fundamentally unconstitutional. For that matter, so’s the Lautenberg Amendment, among many other “laws.” But then the Supremes didn’t consult me.
Adding in the formal congressional authorization for the use of military force (since that’s what he’s Commander-in-Chief OF) within the borders of the United States, would merely formalize what’s been going on anyway for years in one fashion or another. At Waco it really did include the US military (not well publicized, but clearly documented). In New Orleans, it was apparently “just” National Guard and quasi- (but not officially) military operations like Blackwater, supplemented by various police jurisdictions from around the country. (I can verify that US Army active duty troops also went to New Orleans, but I can only verify that they were for search and rescue and other humanitarian reasons. I have no knowledge of them being used for law enforcement purposes, if that actually did happen.) Now Congress is giving away any last claim to Posse Comitatus, if that even still existed by now anyway.
(Just as an aside, I wonder whatever happened to Obama’s 2008 declaration that he wanted a national civilian police force just as big and well funded as the DoD. Maybe he figured out he can use his pen and cell phone more than he had any idea he’d get away with back in those days – a mere seven years ago.)