Rand Paul to DefSec on Congressional Authorization for ISIS: Sen. Obama Agrees with Me
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the panel for coming today.
Madison wrote that, "History demonstrates what the Constitution supposes, that the executive branch is most prone to war, and therefore, the Constitution, with studied care, vested that power in the legislature."
Madison also went on to further write that, "The separation of powers would be protected by pitting the ambitions of one branch against the ambitions of another."
There will be points of dispute. These points of dispute are important, and no one side will monolithically be able to declare victory."
But I can tell you, I'm not particularly happy with being lectured to by the administration about the Constitution. This is an administration who I believe has trampled the Constitution at many turns.
This is an administration that seeks to legislate when that is not in their purview, whether it be immigration, whether it be health care or whether it now be a war that's been going for eight months without congressional authorization.
This administration is in direct defiance of what Senator Obama ran on and he was elected upon. He said, "No country should go to war without the authority of Congress unless under imminent attack."
This is a great debate. I signed the letter to Iran. But you know what? The message I was sending was to you.
The message was to President Obama that we want you to obey the law. We -- we want you to understand the separation of powers.
If this agreement in any way modifies legislative sanctions, it will have to be passed by Congress. That's why that I've supported Senator Corker's legislation that says exactly this.
However, I've told Senator Corker privately, I think that's the law anyway, that this will have to be passed. You cannot undo legislation.
So why do I sign this letter? I sign this letter because I sign it to an administration that doesn't listen, to an administration that, every turn, tries to go around Congress because you think you can't get your way.
The president says, "Oh, the Congress won't do what I want, so I've got a pen, and I've got my phone. I'm going to do what I want."
The letter was to you. The letter was to Iran, but it should've been CC'd to the White House, because the White House needs to understand that any agreement that removes or changes legislation will have to be passed by us.
Now, people can have different interpretations of things, but I'll go through a couple of things that bother me about the AUMF.
The AUMF in 2001 says that nations or organizations that planned, authorized, committed or aided in the attacks on 9/11 are the -- the target. That's what the authorization is about.
I don't read both Boko Haram into that. I mean, if we're going to read Boko Haram into that, that is such a stretch that it's meaningless.
Senator Murphy talked about vagueness. It's pretty specific in 2001 what we're supposed to do. I was all in favor of that. We had to do what we had to do with Afghanistan, with those who attacked us.
If we have to go to other places, we should have other authorizations. I'm not saying I won't vote for the authorizations; we just need to have them.
So we have a new authorization that says, "We don't authorize enduring and offensive operation." The problem is, it is so vague that -- I trust -- I trust the military when the military says, "This isn't what we're contemplating." I trust you.
But the thing is, there'll be another president who I may or may not trust, may have a certain degree of -- of lack of trust in this president, saying that it's not being contemplated.
So we say it's 697,000, but the next president could say it is. You know, is it 100,000?
You know, that would be my question, I guess, to Secretary Carter. We're saying it's not 697,00. Is it 100,000 troops?