Obama Administration Lawyers: We Don’t Have to Show You Any Stinkin’ AUMF!

Drone Survival Guide
h/t War is Boring

Remember this classic exchange from “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948)?

Dobbs: “If you’re the police where are your badges?”
Gold Hat: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”

On Wednesday, Department of Defense General Counsel Stephen Preston and State Department Deputy Legal Advisor Mary McLeod told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee roughly the same thing, saying that the Authorization To Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress three days after the 9/11 attacks is not needed to justify U.S. attacks on perceived enemies worldwide (emphasis added).

The single-paragraph AUMF has been the legal justification for the longest war in U.S. history; everything from the jailing of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo to drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen. Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was supposed to explore how and when that congressional mandate could be revised or repealed. But the biggest surprise was the administration’s top lawyers didn’t think Obama even needed it anymore to fight the war on terror as he pleased.

Asked by Corker, if the 2001 AUMF was repealed “can the president carry out the counter-terrorism activities he is carrying out today,” McLeod said, “Yes I believe he could.”

Going deeper into the legal thicket, both McLeod and Preston said that the Constitution’s Article II gives the president all the authority he needs to take military action. That view was initially promoted in the Bush White House by David Addington, Cheney’s chief counsel, who constantly told his legal critics, “You are either with us or against us.”

Now, 13 years later, McLeod and Preston say the president doesn’t need congressional authorization at all.

  1. #1 by Anonymous on May 23, 2014 - 2:13 pm

    Nothing left to do but click your heels 3 times, and say “there’s no place like my gutter trash home”, then shout Sieg Heil.

    We sure as hell aren’t in Kansas anymore.

  2. #2 by cav on May 23, 2014 - 6:16 pm

    …and we don’t need no stinking rogue murderers calling shots ‘in our name’!

    They made the promises, they swore the oaths, they decided none of that was worth the toilet paper the Constitution was written on.

    Now where’s my BP meds?

  3. #3 by Anonymous on May 23, 2014 - 6:40 pm

    Yeah medicate, about all Americans seem capable of anymore, apparently loving their gutter trash circumstances as they do absolutely nothing meaningful about them.

    We get the government we deserve as gutter trash.

  4. #4 by Larry Bergan on May 23, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    One of my very favorite quotes from the movies, but the shorter version adaptation works better at parties: ‘Badges, I don’t need no stinking badges!’

    Whatever version you use, it looks like Americans are the bandits now. 🙁

  5. #5 by Richard Warnick on May 24, 2014 - 11:21 am

    There is a problem when alleged legal experts re-interpret our Constitution in weird ways. The commander-in-chief power was deliberately circumscribed so that no President could initiate the use of force without congressional authorization.

    Beginning with the Bush administration, we have apparently thrown the Constitution into the shredder and replaced it with the unitary executive theory.

  6. #6 by Anonymous on May 24, 2014 - 8:52 pm

    It was going on long before that…blaming bush is cop out, don’t remember Clinton and Bosnia? Jackson, Polk…been going on a long time.

    I figure progressives thinking bush is so stupid he couldn’t have thought it up by himself.

    • #7 by Richard Warnick on May 24, 2014 - 11:57 pm

      Of course, the Clinton administration acted in concert with NATO in Bosnia and Kosovo. International law was not violated as it has been during the two most recent administrations. Republicans in Congress refused to issue an AUMF (indeed they impeached President Clinton during the Kosovo crisis), but the question was moot because hostilities were over before the War Powers Act 60-day limit kicked in.

      Military actions during Jackson’s presidency were clearly defensive in nature. During the Polk administration, Congress overwhelmingly approved the declaration of war with Mexico.

    • #8 by cav on May 25, 2014 - 7:46 am

      President Woodrow Wilson put it plainly in his private journal (1917), “Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down.” Likewise, “Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process.”

  7. #9 by Anonymous on May 25, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    I guess in your world that makes the bombing the crap out the region and putting all the bridges on the Danube under water and to smithereens justified.

    Clinton droive that bus, and all you are doing now is posturing legalism..which is great part is why most of the world hates America. It’s only legal in your mind, which can’t see the forest for the trees.

    How many people did we arm twist and bribe to get that violence done? As long as you can sleep at night…

    • #10 by Richard Warnick on May 25, 2014 - 2:48 pm

      The point is not that all uses of military force until now were perfectly justified. The point is that the Executive Branch is wrong to claim autonomy in this area. Only Congress has the power to declare war or authorize an attack on a country that hasn’t attacked us.

  8. #11 by Anonymous on May 25, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    So said the Nazis..and der Fuhrer…all a matter of perspective.

    The pile of dead innocents begs to differ.

    Current American righteous bullshit stinks of the domestic practice of law enforcement killing people in their idiotic way and then investigating themselves and then finding they have done nothing wrong.

    In the long run of history…it just ‘ain’t gonna wash…

  9. #12 by Anonymous on May 25, 2014 - 5:49 pm

    Just a gutter trash nation anymore. It is sad as well as being a bloody horror.

  10. #13 by Anonymous on May 25, 2014 - 9:53 pm

    Please watch this Richard. This is where it lives. I am in doubt that not a single thing that comes out of our mainstream media has an iota of truth in it. Look at the results and then argue with me.

    It is well past time to quit repeating the crap you read from your “sources” and start thinking out of the box. Who benefits? Or Cui bono is the best litmus. Use your native intelligence and analytical skills and actually obtain what is most likely going on.

    Unless you are a shill for these obfuscations and overt lies that ate foisted on We the People, causing our deaths, the deaths of countless others, and our emergent bankruptcy.

    Watch it!


  11. #14 by Anonymous on May 25, 2014 - 9:58 pm

    Here is a question for you that cuts the crap to the bone.

    Do you expect obamacare to work as well as the now scandalous VA system? After all it is gummint healthcare, and provided to those Americans who have SERVED and SACRIFICED!!!

    What do you really expect some no account American to get from what is going to be after all, GUMMINT HEALTHCARE?!!!!

    It’s your Memorial Day question my veteran friend, and it requires an ANSWER!!!

    • #15 by Richard Warnick on May 26, 2014 - 5:08 pm

      The VA system provides excellent health care at a lower cost than the private sector, for all the reasons that Great Britain’s National Health Service works so well.

      The only scandal is that the Bush administration cut the Veterans Affairs budget while rapidly increasing the numbers of eligible veterans by about 2 million. President Obama once again did not do enough to fix Bush’s malfeasance – but the Tea-GOP also got in the way.

      I know you read this blog regularly, you can go back to 2009 and you will not find me advocating the ACA as better than single-payer.

      • #16 by brewski on May 26, 2014 - 5:15 pm

        If the UK NHS works so well, then why does 12% of the UK population pay for their own private health care?

  12. #18 by cav on May 26, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    The state as protection racket


  13. #19 by Anonymous on May 27, 2014 - 1:06 am

    Tell it to the dead veterans who were denied care.

    What friggen’ planet are you living on?

    It takes average over seven years to have government you even have the problem you have before they will start to treat and pay for it. I know as have watched veteran friends go through the adversarial process.

    Plenty of time to fade away and DIE.

    • #20 by Richard Warnick on May 27, 2014 - 6:28 pm

      The problem isn’t the quality of care, or the cost. The problem is rising demand from two million recent combat veterans and aging Vietnam-era vets. Republicans in Congress have blocked the needed budget increases.

  14. #21 by Anonymous on May 27, 2014 - 1:07 am

    You have to be smokin’ crack if you think the NHS provides good care. My god..

    • #22 by Richard Warnick on May 27, 2014 - 6:21 pm


      An independent survey conducted in 2004 found that users of the NHS often expressed very high levels of satisfaction about their personal experience of the medical services. Of hospital inpatients, 92% said they were satisfied with their treatment; 87% of GP users were satisfied with their GP; 87% of hospital outpatients were satisfied with the service they received; and 70% of Accident and Emergency department users reported being satisfied.

  15. #23 by brewski on May 27, 2014 - 4:26 am

    It is so easy to prove Richard wrong pretty much 100% of the time. I wish he at least made it sporting once in a while.


    • #24 by cav on May 27, 2014 - 10:42 am

      Richard being wrong does not make brewski right.

      Rationality 101.

      • #25 by brewski on May 27, 2014 - 2:20 pm

        I don’t have a problem with any of Richard’s opinions. Just his facts are all wrong.

        • #26 by Richard Warnick on May 27, 2014 - 5:56 pm

          If I said the Sun rises in the East, brewski would call me a shameless liar and explain how he alone understands about the Earth’s rotation. 😉

          See above about levels of customer satisfaction for Britain’s NHS.

          • #27 by brewski on May 28, 2014 - 7:34 am


            The high level of customer satisfaction questions that they report are entirely misleading. Read them and then tell me why. Show me you get it and know how to read.

  16. #28 by Anonymous on May 27, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Makes perfect sense, the errors of this Richard, and that the Welsh are last. They have always been regarded as unimportant savages to the toffee nosed tribes south and to the east of them and in the british system in general since times ancient.

    Guess the more things change, the more they don’t.

    Sorry for the previous typos, internet quit on !e last night while I was in the middle.

  17. #29 by Anonymous on May 27, 2014 - 9:52 am

    And cav, let’s just be blunt about it all. The state as so comprised is humanity’s greatest enemy.

    The state is a psychopath.

    A multi faceted, multiple personality Caligula.

    Needs killin’

  18. #30 by cav on May 27, 2014 - 10:47 am

    .”..as so comprised…”

    Yeppers on that anon.

    Perhaps the repeal of the AUMF, PATRIOT Act and Citizens United would at least be a start in the repair. Of course from there the list is very long indeed.

  19. #31 by Anonymous on May 27, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    The real issue in it all is the phony money the state invents, and its pathlogical compulsion to compel all others to take their fiat money for economic exchange, lest they face the addled and brainwashed compulsive goon squads the so comprised states compels with its pennies and promises and then as we can plainly see..they celebrate their sacrifices and then robustly….

    FUCK THEM OVER!!! As they do all parts of the human family. Of which they are not a part.

    So let us please dispose of them. Post haste. How many more humans need die and suffer for the insanely selfish desires of these filthy animals?

    Are We the People prey? I say not. I pray not.

  20. #32 by Richard Warnick on June 19, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    DSWright on FDL: Obama Claims He Does Not Need Congressional Approval For Next Iraq War

    There has never been a better time to roll back the imperial presidency after decades of gruesome and costly failures, but it appears Obama is doubling down rather than rolling back executive authority and in the process setting up even more perilous precedents for his successor.

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