News Release

War Powers Resolution “Riddled with Holes”


FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He said today regarding moves in Congress on Iran: “The Kaine resolution and the Slotkin resolution are riddled with so many holes that Trump/Pompeo et al. will drive a truck through them. The legislation proposed by Ro Khanna and Sanders has some problematic rhetoric, which should be dropped, but it is not in the operative provisions and it is consistent with the War Powers Resolution and the War Powers Clause of the Constitution and the United Nations Charter and would make a real difference.”

Boyle noted: “Slotkin’s — who notably came out of the CIA — resolution talks of the president being free to act in case of ‘an imminent armed attack.’ This is not consistent with the War Powers Resolution and will likely assist Trump committing aggression.

“Part of the reason we have these continuous wars is that Congress has failed to live up to its responsibilities. I advised Rep. Henry B. González and wrote the first draft of the Gonzalez Impeachment Resolution, introduced in 1991. George H. W. Bush would later write in his memoirs that if the Gulf War ‘drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me.’ So that might have helped stop the first president Bush from trying to go to Baghdad in 1991.

“Rep. Robert F. Drinan tried to impeach over Nixon’s bombings and got shot down by most of the rest of Congress. If they had lived up to their responsibilities then, we’d live in a much better world.” See New York Times report from Aug. 1, 1973 on the first moves to impeach Nixon — over bombing Cambodia.

Boyle advised Sen. Patrick Moynihan and Rep. Dan Crane in the first use of the War Powers Resolution, after Reagan placed Marines in Lebanon. He added: “Unfortunately, a ‘compromise’ was struck and predictably led to disaster with the Marine barracks bombing.” See New York Times report from Sept. 21, 1983: “Congress And Reagan Back Compromise On War Powers Keeping Marines In Lebanon.”

Boyle added: “Part of the problem is my profession. As Noam Chomsky just noted: ‘there is a respected profession, called “international lawyers and law professors,” who can learnedly explain that words don’t mean what they mean.’”

See news release just after Clinton’s 1998 bombing of Iraq on the eve of his scheduled impeachment, featuring Boyle and the late head of the Center for Constitutional rights, Michael Ratner.

For more crucial background, including the Obama administration’s fears that he would be impeached if he bombed Syria, see recent news release: “Why Not Impeach Trump for War Crimes?”

Boyle has been featured on several news releases with Paul Findley, the main author of the War Powers Resolution who died last year at 98.