Bergdahl Deal: Not the First Time Obama Risked American Lives after Bypassing Congress
The chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Diane Feinstein, was visibly upset with Barack Obama upon learning of the president’s secretive Bergdahl deal. It is reasonable that she and all members of Congress should be outraged. But should they be surprised that the president traded five of the most dangerous terrorists in Gitmo for the deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, without consulting Congress per the law passed to prevent exactly what Obama did?
Congress should, of course, be livid. But shocked, I don’t think so.
At this point, it should be hard for anyone to be surprised. The man with a pen and a phone had more than threatened to illegally bypass Congress; he had done so before.
And he had done so in big ways.
On the subject of Obama’s usurpation of powers, constitutional expert and George Washington University Law professor Jonathan Turley had this to say during an NPR interview:
We’ve seen a gradual sort of gravitational shift of power from the legislative to the executive branch. It was prominent during the Bush years, where I was also very critical, but it certainly accelerated under President Obama. And the most serious violations, in my view, are various cases when he went to Congress, as in the immigration field, as in the healthcare field, as for very specific things, and was rejected, and then decided just to order those on his own. He’s also been accused of shifting large amounts of money from their appointed or appropriated purpose to other purposes. These really drive at the heart of the separation of powers.
Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Professor Turley noted:
As someone who voted for President Obama and agrees with many of his policies, it is often hard to separate the ends from the means of presidential action. Indeed, despite decades of thinking and writing about the separation of powers, I have had momentary lapses where I privately rejoiced in seeing actions on goals that I share, even though they were done in the circumvention of Congress. For example, when President Obama unilaterally acted on greenhouse gas pollutants, I was initially relieved. I agree entirely with the priority that he has given this issue. However, it takes an act of willful blindness to ignore that the greenhouse regulations were implemented only after Congress rejected such measures and that a new sweeping regulatory scheme is now being promulgated solely upon the authority of the President. We are often so committed to a course of action that we conveniently dismiss the means as a minor issue in light of the goals of the Administration. Many have embraced the notion that all is fair in love and politics. However, as I have said too many times before Congress, in our system it is often more important how we do something than what we do. Priorities and policies (and presidents) change. What cannot change is the system upon which we all depend for our rights and representation.
Turley believes that Obama’s “most serious violations” occurred after Congress had soundly rejected Obama’s intentions through our constitutional process.
Those with constitutional integrity and intellectual honesty must agree with Turley that Obama’s habit of circumventing Congress to effectively dictate has created a “constitutional crisis” and has placed the United States at a “constitutional tipping point.”
It appears that the general public isn’t fully aware of our constitutional crisis. But now, with the Bergdahl deal that Obama made with our enemies during a time of war, the public is becoming acutely aware of an unforgivable consequence of rejecting Congress’s wishes and the rule of law: there is a reasonable likelihood that Obama’s aid to the Taliban via releasing five of its top terrorist leaders will lead to the loss of American life.
Mr. Obama’s smug forcing of his will over the resolutions of the people’s representatives is finally being exposed for the danger that it is. Finally, because Obama’s bypassing of Congress has had deadly consequences before, yet somehow, that connection has eluded public awareness.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani recently noted that Obama’s Bergdahl deal was “one of the most irresponsible and dangerous decisions that a president has ever made.”
That’s true, but Obama’s Libya decision in 2011 was equally bad, and perhaps even worse.
The focus regarding the Benghazi outrage has been on why the Obama administration had not responded to requests for enhanced security; why American diplomats had not been pulled when the British and the Red Cross pulled out; why the military was not dispatched to help during the six-hour attack on 9-11-2012; why the administration failed to account for the president’s whereabouts during the prolonged attack; why a cover-up was devised, blaming an obscure YouTube video and calling the planned, heavily armed terrorist attack a “spontaneous uprising” that occurred during a “protest” over the infamous video.
The unanswered questions swirling around the Benghazi tragedy need to be answered, and, of course, the administration needs to be held accountable for every bit of incompetence and prevarication.
But the foundation of Benghazi is not the the ineptness, cover-up, and propaganda of the Obama administration.
At the overlooked core is Obama’s bypassing of Congress in violation of the Constitution and rule of law in order to unilaterally unleash the killing power of the United States military in Libya to overthrow (and fundamentally transform) a sovereign state that presented no threat to the United States.
The instability in Benghazi, Libya and the empowerment of terrorists that led to the brutal murder of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, were the proximate consequences of Obama’s unconstitutional actions. By hastily killing the Libyan president, Moammar Gaddafi, Obama and the U.N. created an unstable and anarchic atmosphere in Libya. And because he acted without Congress’s permission, Obama is uniquely responsible for the murder of four American citizens. Mr. Obama has not even a fig leaf of constitutional cover.
But for Obama’s unilateral military orders, there would be no Benghazi tragedy.
Many fear that Mr. Obama’s bizarre deal with terrorists, in releasing five of the worst of the worst in exchange for a deserter, will place the United States at risk and will lead to the death of Americans.
Those fears are well-founded. And it is important to remember that Obama’s unilateral actions, in defiance of Congress, have already had deadly consequences in Libya. Obama slapped American sovereignty in the face by submitting the United States military to the authority of the United Nations, with the momentous goal of forcing regime change via killing and destroying. Congress was not even permitted to vote on the use of U.S. military power to support the rebel forces.
If Obama was willing to unilaterally dispatch a naval force of 11 Navy ships – including nuclear submarines; B-2 stealth bombers; AV-8B Harrier II jump-jets; A-10 ground-attack aircraft; EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft; U-2 reconnaissance aircraft; F-15E and F-16 fighters; AC-130Us; tanker aircraft; E-8Cs; CIA agents to gather intelligence; and MQ-1 Predator UAVs – to overthrow a foreign government without congressional authorization, should anyone then be surprised at other transgressions against our constitution and rule of law?
With all that Obama has gotten away with, why shouldn’t he feel as though he is above the law?
Congress and every red-blooded American should be outraged over the treacherous Bergdahl deal – but, unfortunately, there is no reason for surprise.
The question is whether the outrage will translate into congressional action to hold President Obama fully accountable.
Monte Kuligowski is a Virginia attorney.