Dem: Obama’s Unilateral Decision for Military Strike in Syria Would ‘Violate the Law’

September 3, 2013 - 12:03 PM

lofgren

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, said on March 8, 2012, that she opposed legislation that would allow state and local law enforcement officers to check the legal status of individuals who are arrested for drunk driving. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said President Barack Obama ordering a military strike in Syria without the approval of Congress would “violate the law.”

“It's not a decision the president gets to make on his own,” Lofgren said in an interview with National Public Radio on Friday. “It's a decision made by the full American government, of the Congress with the president.

“And to do otherwise would violate the law, but it would also be a mistake in terms of the political culture of our country,” Lofgren said.

Lofgren was interviewed by NPR host Melissa Block, who asked if remarks made by Secretary of State John Kerry or Obama about evidence of a chemical weapons being used to kill civilians had changed her mind about the need for a military response.

“Well, I guess here's the question - nobody is arguing that the use of chemical weapons is right or moral,” Lofgren said. “It's appalling.”

Saying the law is “very clear,” Lofgren said Congress has to be a part of any decision to take military action against another country.

“The point is what should the United States do?” Lofgren said. “Should we engage in an act of war? And in order for that to occur - the law is very clear.”

“It's not a decision the president gets to make on his own,” Lofgren said. “It's a decision made by the full American government, of the Congress with the president.

“And to do otherwise would violate the law, but it would also be a mistake in terms of the political culture of our country,” Lofgren said.

Block asked Lofgren about the difference between a military strike in Syria and the U.S. military intervention in Egypt ordered by Obama without congressional authority in March 2011.

“I think that anyone who argues that shooting missiles and dropping bombs on another country is not an act of war has got some further education warranted,” Lofgren said. “If somebody shot cruise missiles at Washington for only one day, we would still consider it an act of war, wouldn't we?”

President Barack Obama said last week that he believed he had the authority to order a limited strike on Syria without congressional approval, but in a speech on Saturday, the president said he had decided to seek Congress’ blessing.

The president did not say what he would do if Congress does not pass a resolution in favor of military action in Syria.

On Dec. 20, 2007, then-candidate Obama told the Boston Globe that he believed a president could not unilaterally order a military attack.

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama said.

Congress is scheduled to resume the 113th session on Monday, and leadership has said the first order of business will be debating the Syrian conflict and whether the U.S. should intervene.