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ACTION ALERT No More Unconstitutional Wars


July 3, 2013
Just Foreign Policy & Reuters

The US Constitution and the War Powers Resolution insist that absent an armed attack on the US, Congress shall decide when to authorize the use of military force. But the Obama Administration has announced plans to arm rebels in Syria and is considering imposing a US "no fly zone," which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has authorized neither. A House and Senate bill would block US intervention in Syria without an affirmative vote of Congress.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

ACTION:
Tell Congress to stand up for its war powers by supporting H.R. 2494 and S. 1201.


No More Unconstitutional Wars:
No War on Syria without Congressional Authorization

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio / Just Foreign Policy

(July 2, 2013) -- The US Constitution and the War Powers Resolution insist that absent an armed attack on the United States, Congress shall decide when to authorize the use of US military force. But apparently the Obama Administration has different ideas.

The Administration has announced that the US will arm rebels in Syria and is considering a "no fly zone," which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has authorized neither.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is standing up, led by Sens. Tom Udall and Rand Paul in the Senate, and Reps. Peter Welch and Chris Gibson in the House. They've introduced legislation that would expressly prohibit the Obama Administration intervening militarily in Syria's sectarian civil war without explicit Congressional authorization.

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Rick Nolan (D-MN), and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2494) to block US military intervention in Syria without an affirmative vote of Congress. [1] Identical legislation (S. 1201) has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). [2]

Sending military assistance to Syrian rebels, or any direct military intervention, would lead to Americanization of Syria's sectarian civil war. Congress and the American people should be part of a vigorous debate before any such military escalation takes place.

On Sunday, the Vatican confirmed that Father François Murad was killed by Syrian rebel forces after a video allegedly showing the Catholic priest being beheaded by jihadists was posted online. (Media reports now indicate that the video may not depict the priest's killing.) [3] As AP notes, it is widely feared that Western weapons would likely fall into the hands of Islamic extremists who would use them against Western interests. [4]

The US should be supporting real diplomacy to end Syria's sectarian civil war with a political solution, not adding weapons to the carnage.

Urge your Senators and Representative to stand up and support this legislation. Urge the Senate and the House and to support the Udall/Paul and Gibson/Welch bills to block US military intervention in Syria without Congressional approval.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

THE LETTER
I urge you to co-sponsor, speak out for and vote for an amendment based on H.R.2494, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Rick Nolan (D-MN), and Walter Jones (R-NC), that would prohibit US military escalation in Syria, including arming the Syrian rebels, without explicit Congressional authorization.

The Constitution and the War Powers Resolution require that absent an armed attack on the United States, Congress shall decide when to authorize the use of US military force.

Sending military assistance to Syrian rebels, or any direct military intervention, would lead to Americanization of Syria's sectarian civil war. Congress and the American people should be part of a vigorous debate before any such military escalation takes place.

Syrian rebels have committed gross violations of human rights. Experts say that if the US arms Syrian rebels, we won't be able to keep those weapons out of the hands of Islamic extremists who will use them to violate human rights or to attack Western interests.

We don't need another rush to war in the Middle East. The US should be backing real diplomacy to bring about a political resolution that ends Syria's civil war. I urge you to strongly support H.R.2494 to protect the role of Congress in deciding when to use military force and to stop the US from being thoughtlessly sucked into another war.


References
1. “Bipartisan group opposes arming Syrian rebels,” Donna Cassata, AP, June 27, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/bipartisan-group-opposes-arming-syrian-rebels-162400583.html
2. "Four US senators seek to bar military aid to Syrian rebels," Patricia Zengerle, Reuters, June 21, 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/21/uk-syria-crisis-usa-congress-idUKBRE95J1B120130621
3. “Priest Beheaded on Video by Syrian Jihadists Bears 'No Relation' to Death of Father Francois Murad,” Nadine DeNinno, International Business Times, July 2, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.com/priest-beheaded-video-syrian-jihadists-bears-no-relation-death-father-francois-murad-correction
4. "Merkel tells Parliament that risks of arming Syrian rebels 'incalculable'," Associated Press, June 27, 2013, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/06/27/merkel-tells-parliament-that-risks-arming-syrian-rebels-incalculable/



Four US Senators Seek to Bar Military Aid to Syrian Rebels
Patricia Zengerle / Reuters

WASHINGTON (June 21 2013) -- Four senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would bar President Barack Obama from providing military aid to Syria's rebels, saying the administration has provided too little information about what they see as a risky intervention.

The bill would prevent the Department of Defense and US intelligence agencies from using any funds to support military, paramilitary or covert operations in Syria, directly or indirectly.

The bill's sponsors -- Democrats Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republicans Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky -- expressed doubts about Washington's ability to ensure weapons will not fall into the wrong hands, and called for debate in Congress before the United States becomes more involved in Syria's civil war.

"The president's unilateral decision to arm Syrian rebels is incredibly disturbing, considering what little we know about whom we are arming," Paul said in a statement.

Other lawmakers argued it was in the US national security interest to get more involved in Syria.

"This is about looking at the possibility of a failed state in which terrorist actors already present within Syria in this fight can launch attacks against our allies, and potentially against the United States," Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters.

After months of equivocating, Obama decided a week ago to provide military aid to rebels trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, citing Assad's government's use chemical weapons in the two-year-long conflict.

The administration has since been working to win more support in Congress for the plan. Secretary of State John Kerry, a former senator, has been on Capitol Hill at least twice this week to make the administration's case to lawmakers.

On Tuesday he had a classified briefing for House of Representatives leaders from both parties and committee chairmen.

On Thursday Kerry conducted at least three briefings: one for the House Intelligence Committee, a second for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a third for other senators.

Many members of Congress, particularly in the Republican-controlled House, remain deeply skeptical about plans to arm the rebels, questioning the cost when other programs are being cut and worrying that US weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Others have been pushing for military aid for months, with some senators in particular denouncing Obama for his failure to intervene in a conflict in which more than 90,000 people have been killed.

Last month the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 in favour of a bill to provide lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. That measure has not yet gone to the full Senate for a vote.

Paul, Murphy and Udall were the three members of the foreign relations panel who voted against that bill.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Stacey Joyce and Xavier Briand
(c) Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

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