The President’s Embarrassment

When Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently irritated by a lack of sleep, gave a snippy and what he thought was an unrealistic reply to a reporter’s question at a London press conference last weekend, he hardly could have imagined the world’s response. Asked whether there is anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do at this relatively late hour to avoid an American invasion, Kerry told an international audience that if Assad gave up whatever chemical weapons his government possesses, the U.S. would forgo an invasion.

But not to worry, Kerry added. Assad is not going to do that, and we will end up invading Syria in order to vindicate President Obama’s threat to do so. For two days, Obama remained silent on this as his arch-nemesis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, grabbed the spotlight and the high moral ground.

Putin, sounding more like a Nobel Peace laureate than the killer he is known to be, offered to broker a deal whereby the Syrian chemical stockpile would be surrendered to the United Nations, the Syrian government could go about defending itself from the al-Qaida-driven effort to take it over, and the U.S. would leave Syria alone.

Obama is generally firm in his belief that he needs to vindicate the threat he made last summer when he was trying to outdo Mitt Romney on sounding tough. It was then that Obama threatened to intervene in the Syrian civil war if chemical weapons were used by the government. Nevertheless, hating the international embarrassment visited upon him when suddenly Putin seems more reasonable than he does, Obama conceded to my Fox News colleague Chris Wallace that the Kerry-inspired and Putin-pushed idea seemed worth considering. And then the Syrian government agreed.

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Obama Administration Removes Ban on Warrantless Surveillance of Americans

President Obama sought and obtained permission from a secret surveillance court to disregard previously enacted restrictions on the domestic, warrantless spying programs of the National Security Agency (NSA), the Washington Post reports.

According to sources cited in the story, in 2011, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, issued an order “permitting the agency [NSA] to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases.”

Also included in the order was an extension of the amount of time the NSA can store the electronic communication data it collects in the United States. Prior to the judge’s decision, such files could be retained for only five years; the limit was pushed back to six years by the terms of the ruling.

The order, the story claims, reversed an “explicit ban” on such unconstitutional searches imposed by the same court in 2008. These restrictions reportedly were “not previously acknowledged.”

A decision of this type would cause immediate and irreparable harm to the Constitution and the right of Americans — and all free people — to be free from unwarranted surveillance by agents of their own government.

What’s more troubling and tyrannical is the fact that none of these changes to exceptions to the Fourth Amendment was ever debated or passed by the people’s elected representatives in Congress. Rather, this fundamental civil liberty was repealed by a judicial appointee at the behest of the very department who sought the expanded authority.

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Obama Packs Surveillance Review Board With D.C. Insiders

After the uproar over his plan to appoint Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to head his intelligence review board, President Obama promised to pack the group with “outside experts.”

News of the names of board members reveals that the president’s definition of “outside” comes from somewhere outside the dictionary.

The five men tapped to lead the panel known officially as the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies are Richard A. Clarke (shown), Michael Morell, Cass Sunstein, Geoffrey Stone, and Peter Swire.

It would be challenging to assemble a group more “inside” the government.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s response to the announcement of the board members sums up the situation exactly. Said EFF: “A task force led by General Clapper full of insiders — and not directed to look at the extensive abuse — will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying.”

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An Impeachable Offense

by Jacob Hornberger, Future of Freedom Foundation

Make no mistake about it: President Obama’s 90-minute telephone conference call with a group of congressional “leaders” to consult about his plans to initiate a military attack on Syria does not comport with the U.S. Constitution, the higher law that the American people have imposed on federal officials.

The Constitution is clear: The power to declare war lies with Congress, not the president. Like it or not, under our form of government the president is prohibited from waging war without a declaration of war from Congress. If someone doesn’t like it, he’s free to start a movement to amend the Constitution to enable the president to both declare and wage war.

From a legal standpoint, it makes no difference that previous presidents have waged wars without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war. Prior violations of the Constitution do not operate as an implicit amendment of the Constitution. If Obama proceeds to carry out his threat to initiate war against Syria, he will be committing a grave constitutional offense.

The Framers did not want President Obama or any other president to have the omnipotent, dictatorial authority to send the entire nation into war on his own initiative. They knew that rulers inevitably embroil themselves in things like “saving face,” “maintaining credibility,” and “showing toughness.”

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Ignoring Constitutional Constraints

By Jon N. Hall, Originally published at the American Thinker

When the law no longer commands respect, one can pretty well write off a nation that pretends to be a constitutional republic.  How can The People respect the law when the government doesn’t? President Obama seems to regard the law as a mere inconvenience.

In his must-read August 5 article “The Front Man” at National Review, Kevin Williamson sums up our Harvard Law School president’s taste for lawlessness. “He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park.”

With a compliant Congress in his first two years, and a divided, gridlocked Congress thereafter, Mr. Obama has been able to “get away with” an awful lot. One of ways the president flouts the law is by not enforcing it, such as in his recent “decision” to delay enforcing the employer mandate of ObamaCare. Where does the president get off thinking he has the authority to refuse to enforce a law? The president doesn’t seem to understand his job.

Also, under Obama the executive branch just makes up law, a task generally reserved for the legislative branch. Williamson reports that “although the IRS has no statutory power to collect Affordable Care Act–related fines in states that have not voluntarily set up health-care exchanges, Obama’s managers there have announced that they will do so anyway.”

That announcement brings to mind a provision in the ACA concerning enforcement of the individual mandate: “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure. [Sec. 5000A(g)(2)(A), page 249]” With regard to this prohibition, it remains to be seen whether Obama’s minions at the IRS will announce “that they will do so anyway”?

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Obama to Congress: Only I Can Amend ObamaCare

The individual mandate is ObamaCare’s least popular provision. Just 17 percent of Americans support it. Only 12 percent support letting it take effect while employers get a pass. When he unilaterally delayed the employer mandate, President Obama put House Democrats, and potentially Senate Democrats, in the position of having to cast their most unpopular pro-ObamaCare vote, ever. The attack ads practically write themselves. ”Congressman X voted against giving families the same breaks as big business.”

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Why Isn’t the Murder of an American Boy an Impeachable Offense?

by Jacob Hornberger, FFF

Article 2, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows: The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice for matters arising out of the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

If perjury and obstruction of justice constitute high crimes or misdemeanors, then doesn’t it seem rather obvious that the murder of an American citizen by the president would also constitute a high crime or misdemeanor, especially if the citizen is a child?

That’s precisely what President Obama, acting through U.S. national-security state agents, did on October 14, 2011. He murdered a 16-year-old American boy who was traveling in Yemen. The boy was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was the son of accused terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who the CIA had assassinated two weeks before.

Why did President Obama and the CIA or the military kill Abdulrahman? The president, the CIA, and the Pentagon have all chosen to remain silent on the matter, refusing to even acknowledge that they killed the boy. But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs implicitly provided the justification: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”

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