News Release

Bombing Syria: * Impeachable * Carve-Up Agenda


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The New York Times reports: “Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane.”

This afternoon at the National Press Club, Joint Chiefs Chairman and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford was asked a question submitted by the Institute for Public Accuracy: “What’s the legal justification for targeting Syrian government forces?” He claimed: “We are there and have legal justification under the Authorization for Use of Military Force, we are prosecuting a campaign against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria.” See video.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He said today: “Gen. Dunford is totally incorrect. The AUMF passed after 9/11 has indeed been used to justify the bombing campaign purporting to target ISIS, but it cannot possibly be used to justify targeting the Syrian government. Those attacks are in fact clearly illegal and impeachable.

“Many have put forward dubious arguments for impeaching Trump — or arguments that they would never apply to a Democratic president. Similarly, some threatened Obama with impeachment and are not doing so now that Trump is engaging in exactly the activity they threatened Obama about. Hypocrisies and hypocrites abound.

“If we care about the rule of law, the most striking thing about Trump is his flagrant violation of the War Powers Clause of the Constitution in this targeting of the Syrian government. Now, the U.S. has been violating international law in terms of its drone assassination program and various bombing campaigns, like the one purporting to target ISIS in Syria. Many of these activities are justified by attempts to invoke the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 attacks. A decade and a half after those attacks, that rationale is international legal nonsense, but it exists.

“In contrast, the targeting of forces of or allied with the Syrian government has no justification whatsoever. It is obviously impeachable — Obama’s people say they were afraid of impeachment for exactly this [see below]. But pro-war Democrats don’t raise it because it would put a constraint on the war-making capacities of the U.S. president — while they pretend to care about the rule of law.

“Many of the U.S. attacks on Syria have been around the so-called ‘de-confliction zones.’ These zones are de facto partitions of Syria in violation of its territorial sovereignty and political independence. This goes back at least to the Pentagon just after 9/11 telling retired General Wesley Clark that they wanted to target Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.

“Israeli strategic interests are obviously served by a breakup of Syria; as is the case for much of the U.S. establishment. The Saudis are clearly on board. The Russians, rhetoric aside, are likely simply looking for some scraps. The big losers are the Syrians and most of the other people of the region.”

See recent report in the Financial Times: “Syria de-escalation deal stirs fears of carve-up by foreign powers.” Also, see new report from the Wall Street Journal: “Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels.”

Earlier this year, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and foreign policy speechwriter, told Politico that President Obama feared impeachment if he targeted the Syrian government:

Rhodes: “The only country in the world that was prepared to join us [in attacking the Assad government] was France. And we had no domestic legal basis. We actually had Congress warning us against taking action without congressional authorization, which we interpreted as the president could face impeachment.”

Politico: “Really? Was the prospect of impeachment actually a factor in your conversations?”

Rhodes: “That was a factor. Go back and read the letters from Boehner, letters from the Republican members of Congress. They laid down markers that this would not be constitutional.”

House Speaker John Boehner wrote to Obama in 2013: “It is essential you address on what basis any use of force would be legally justified and how the justification comports with the exclusive authority of Congressional authorization under Article I of the Constitution.”

Boyle was featured on an Institute for Public Accuracy news release in 2013 along with former Rep. Paul Findley: “* Key Author of War Powers Act: ‘Obama has no Authority to Attack Syria’ * Impeachment.”