ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Says Congress Must Aut

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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Says Congress Must Authorize Use of Force in Bosnia; Urges Clinton to Follow Constitutional Requirements For IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 3, 1993 WASHINGTON -- In letters to President Clinton and Congressional leaders, the American Civil Liberties Union has said that any use of force by the United States in the former Yugoslavia must be first authorized by Congress. While taking no position on the deployment or use of U.S. military forces, the ACLU said that the United States Constitution requires prior congressional authorization for the President to deploy U.S. forces if they will be authorized to use force other than in self-defense; this includes the proposed airstrikes or "peace enforcement" actions to ensure safe havens. Kate Martin, Director of the ACLU's Center for National Security Studies, said that public debate and a congressional vote are especially important in this complicated and tragic situation." "Debate helps to ensure that a full array of viewpoints on the issue are considered, both from within and outside of the government," she said. "A vote ensures that these important decisions have the endorsement of the Congress, and derivatively the people, from the beginning." Martin noted that this view was consistent with that of Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who stated in a 1982 Foreign Affairs article: "[A] government makes no more fateful decision than the decision to go to war. The President should want to share that decision with the Congress. When the President and the Congress stand together, the nation's commitment is clear." Martin also urged President Clinton "not to interpret the Constitution in the reckless manner of the Bush Administration, by asserting that the President has constitutional power to use military force without the authorization of Congress." She said that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ron Dellums and 91 other House Members have informed the President that he must obtain congressional authorization to use force in the Balkans. A copy of the ACLU's letter to President Clinton follows. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- American Civil Liberties Union Washington Office April 28, 1993 President Bill Clinton The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President: As the possibility of direct United States military involvement in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia increases, we urge you to seek a congressional vote before authorizing any use of force. While the American Civil Liberties Union takes no position for or against the deployment or use of U.S. military forces in this or any other conflict, we believe that any such action must be undertaken in accordance with the Constitution and consistent with democratic principles. We believe that the Constitution is clear in requiring Congressional authorization prior to any use of force to deal with the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Such authorization is necessary whether force is used to secure humanitarian aid, to enforce the proposed peace plan, or to deter further aggression. This is true whether or not it is authorized by the United Nations or the NATO alliance. Congress's general war powers authority, embodied in Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution -- which grants to congress "the power to declare war [and] grant letters of marque and reprisal" -- applies to all situations in which U.S. forces are authorized to use military force abroad, except to repel sudden attacks.(1) Congress itself interpreted the Constitution in precisely this fashion when it passed the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Section 2(c), on purpose and policy, states unequivocally that the President has constitutional authority to "introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, . . . only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States. . ." This provision serves as a statutory definition of the constitutional war powers.(2) Public debate and a congressional vote are especially important in this complicated and tragic situation. Debate helps to ensure that a full array of viewpoints on the issue are considered, both from within and outside of the government. A vote ensures that these important decisions have the endorsement of the Congress, and derivatively the people, from the beginning.(3) Secretary of State Christopher echoed this view when he wrote in 1982 about the need for prior Congressional involvement in war power matters: "[A] government makes no more fateful decision than the decision to go to war. The President should want to share that decision with the Congress. When the President and the Congress stand together, the nation's commitment is clear.(4) In February of this year we called on the Congress to deal with the war powers issue in a general fashion in anticipation of possible action in the former Yugoslavia or other parts of the world. At that time we suggested that Congress establish working procedures with the President to ensure formal congressional authorization prior to any future use of force. Now that the use of force appears more imminent, it is all the more essential that you go to Congress for authorization before you act. Not only does the Constitution require it, but common sense and good government counsel it. As you know, the previous Administrations have taken an extreme, and in our view incorrect, view of the President's constitutional powers to authorize military force. We are aware that your Administration is faced with an immediate crisis without the luxury of examining the constitutional issues. Nevertheless, we respectfully suggest that securing congressional authorization in this situation for whatever actions you choose to take will not only result in wiser policy and more politically acceptable decisions, but will also be in accordance with the Constitution. We thus call upon both you and the Congress to make sure congressional authorization is obtained before the United States takes any military action in this conflict. Thank you for considering our views. We are available to work with you and your Administration on this issue. Sincerely, Laura Murphy Lee Director Kate Martin Director, Center for National Security Studies (1) Alexander Hamilton noted that "anything beyond [repelling force with force -- i.e., self-defense] must fall under the idea of reprisals and requires the sanction of that Department which is to declare or make war." (2) The use of force in the former Yugoslavia, including NATO actions, would also fall within section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, 50 U.5.C. sec. 1543(a)(1) (situations involving ~hostilities or . . . where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances"), necessitating a presidential report and triggering the 60 day time clock. However, we believe that this law is constitutionally suspect in this regard by not prohibiting the President from using force for the first 60 days without congressional authorization. Accordingly, as occurred with respect to Iraq, Congress should address this matter directly under the Constitution. (3) Any such vote could, of course, be done expeditiously, as Chairman Dellums informed you in his April 24 letter. (4) Warren Christopher, "Ceasefire Between the Branches: A Compact in Foreign Affairs," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 60, No. 5, 899, 1002 (Summer 1982). While Christopher went on to say that "steps short of war ought to require less collaboration and permit more Executive discretion," id., he was referring to military aid and sales, not uses of force. Id. at 1003. ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher://aclu.org:6601 | American Civil Liberties Union National Office ftp://aclu.org | mailto:infoaclu@aclu.org | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"

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