President Barack Obama, like many on the Left, is a fan of international law. Obama, simply put, ignores the U.S. Congress when it is convenient to do so. Obama’s actions towards Libya and his intervention in a death penalty case in Texas are but two examples of the president’s willingness to subordinate U.S. supremacy to the powers of a foreign judicial body.
Obama, however, relies on whatever is convenient to advance his politics. One day he champions international law; the next he dismisses it.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised eyebrows in Congress and on Main Street.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) brought up Libya, telling Panetta:
“We [the U.S. Congress] were not asked—stunningly—in direct violation of the War Powers Act—whether or not you believe it’s constitutional, it certainly didn’t comply with it [the Constitution]. We spent our time worrying about the UN, the Arab League, NATO and too little time in my opinion worrying about the elected representatives of the United States.”
Asked if Panetta thought he could act without approval of Congress to initiate a no-fly zone in Syria, Panetta responded, “Our goal would be to seek international permission.”
The Obama administration attempted to spin and reframe Panetta’s comments for media, but the whole exchange was caught on videotape now posted at Breitbart.com.
It’s acceptable for countries to form alliances when military action is considered, but it is a given that the U.S. Constitution specifically and repeatedly spells out powers regarding war, the armed forces and letters of marque and reprisal as well as rules concerning captures on land and water. These powers are delineated as ‘General Powers of Congress.’
The Obama administration knows that but has chosen to disregard not only that section of the Constitution but numerous others as well.
In 2011 Obama injected himself into a Texas case involving an illegal alien convicted on charges involving rape, torture and murder. The alien was sentenced to death under Texas law. Obama cited a court case related to UN policy on such capital cases, and actually tried to get the US Supreme Court to stop the execution because of “international law obligation.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry didn’t back down. The execution was carried out. This was the second time Perry dismissed encroachment of federal powers on his state in a capital case. The first occurrence came during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Obama was the first U.S. president to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Syria retains a seat on that body to this day. The Council has become nothing more than a political pawn often advocating for repressive regimes.
In 2010, Texas’ former Solicitor General Ted Cruz wrote about threats to U.S. supremacy in reviewing a case similar to the capital murder case Obama tried to influence. Cruz’s foresight was astute. Cruz, now running for a U.S. Senate seat, wrote:
“Medellin was a significant victory for U.S. sovereignty, for separation of powers, and for federalism. Yet these fights will keep on coming. The creep of international law, and the asserted authority of international tribunals, will pose one of the greatest challenges of coming decades. And there will remain a continued need to defend our sovereignty, and our structural limitations on government, so as to preserve our liberty.”
Conversely there are times when Obama dismissed international law if it served politics.
In 2010 Obama legal adviser Harold Hongiu Koh told media:
“This president of the United States said that torture and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment will not be used going forward with regard to interrogation practices. So there has been a clear turning of the page.”
In 2011 Obama went way beyond questionable interrogation practices when he ordered and carried out the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen. Apparently death by drone is more humane than waterboarding.
Koh, by the way, has been a leading proponent for subordinating U.S. supremacy to international law—at least when it suits his boss.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/March 8, 2012)
~~Related at The US Report: