Late on Monday, June 26, the White House threatened military escalation against the Syrian government. US defense officials reached by BuzzFeed News said they were unaware the White House was planning to release its statement. Military officials were caught off guard by the White House statement, the New York Times reported.
Urge your representatives to assert Congress' war powers to challenge Trump's military escalations by signing our petition at MoveOn.
As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote at the Washington Post, "While Washington is fixated on President Trump’s tweets, antics, lies and Russiagate, the administration is ramping up a stealth escalation of our military involvement across the Middle East."
Congress has never authorized the use of military force against the Syrian government, just as it has never authorized U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, Congress, not the President, decides if the U.S. should use military force against the Syrian government, so long as the Syrian government has not attacked the United States. Attacking Syria without Congressional authorization is an impeachable offense.
As Peter Beinart reports in the Forward, Hebron's Issa Amro has been preaching nonviolent resistance in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr for almost two decades. Amro's organization, Youth Against Settlements, frequently hosts Israeli activists. Amro has won awards from the UN and the EU. Amro doesn’t just oppose violence, he's gone to extraordinary lengths to stop it.
In retaliation for his advocacy of nonviolence, Beinart reports, Amro faces 18 criminal charges. If convicted, he’ll likely serve a long prison sentence. Amnesty International notes, "Some of the charges ... are not recognizable criminal offences under international standards." The changes include incitement, protesting without a permit and "insulting a soldier." Amro also faces two charges of assault. Amnesty calls these allegations "baseless," noting, "One of the charges of assault refers to an incident ... that took place after he had already been arrested and was therefore not present." Amro faces trial in a military court where the conviction rate exceeds 99%. As the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reported in 2015, "A Palestinian charged in a military court is as good as convicted."
There's a big Congressional fight coming on Trump's Saudi arms deal. This deal is controversial because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are using U.S. weapons to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure in Yemen, deliberately trying to create famine in Yemen; and because Trump's Saudi arms deal is widely seen as a U.S. seal of approval for escalation of the catastrophic Saudi-UAE war and blockade.
Under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress has thirty days to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal. Senators Chris Murphy [D-CT] and Rand Paul [R-KY] and Representatives Mark Pocan [D-WI] and Justin Amash [R-MI] are expected to introduce resolutions of disapproval within days.
On June 16, 2016, the House narrowly failed to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. 90% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans voted against giving Saudi Arabia these intrinsically anti-civilian weapons. To block Trump's Saudi arms deal, we have to make this be like the House Saudi cluster bomb vote, and then do just a little better than that - a few more Democrats and/or a few more Republicans.
Today, Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Justin Amash (R-MI) led a letter to Defense Secretary Mattis warning him against attacking the Yemeni port of Hodeida.
A PDF of the letter is here.
Following Nixon's unauthorized escalations of the Vietnam War, the Congressional Framers of the War Powers Resolution knew that it was likely that future Presidents would try to use military force without Congressional authorization. That's why they put multiple mechanisms in the WPR to help future Congresses defend their war powers.
One of those mechanisms was the requirement that the President report in writing to Congress within 48 hours of using military force without a declaration of war, stating: "(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces; (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement."
On April 7, Reps. Peter DeFazio [OR-], Mark Pocan [WI-2], Barbara Lee [CA-13], and James McGovern [MA-2] sent a letter to Trump reminding him that under the War Powers Resolution, he has 48 hours to report to Congress on his unauthorized strike.
Add your voice to those of DeFazio, Pocan, Lee and McGovern by signing our petition at MoveOn.
Some in the Trump Administration want to get the U.S. directly involved in Saudi Arabia's war in and blockade of Yemen. U.S. participation in this war has never been authorized by Congress. The Houthi Shia adversaries of the Saudi war aren't "associated forces" of Al Qaeda. On the contrary: Al Qaeda has fought alongside Saudi Arabia against the Houthis, and Saudi Arabia's war against the Houthis has strengthened Al Qaeda. Since Congress has never authorized this war, direct U.S. participation would violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Reps. Mark Pocan [D-WI], Justin Amash [R-MI], Ted Lieu [D-CA], and Walter Jones [R-NC] are leading a bipartisan letter challenging the Administration to show its legal justification for direct participation in the Saudi war.
Call your Rep. now at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say something like:
"As a constituent, I urge you to sign the the Pocan-Amash-Lieu-Jones letter pressing the Trump Administration to show its legal justification for direct U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen."
When you've made your call, please report it below.
U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's war and blockade in Yemen has brought Yemen to the brink of famine, with hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children facing starvation. Instead of ending the carnage, some in the Trump Administration want to get the U.S. directly involved in Saudi Arabia's war. But this war has never been authorized by Congress. The Houthi Shia targets of the Saudi war aren't "associated forces" of Al Qaeda. On the contrary: Al Qaeda has fought alongside Saudi Arabia against the Houthis, and Saudi Arabia's war against the Houthis has strengthened Al Qaeda. Since Congress has never authorized this war, direct U.S. participation would violate the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
Now Reps. Mark Pocan [D-WI], Justin Amash [R-MI], Ted Lieu [D-CA], and Walter Jones [R-NC] are leading a bipartisan letter challenging the Administration to show its legal justification for direct participation in the Saudi war against the Houthis without Congressional authorization. Building support for this letter is a step towards invoking the War Powers Resolution to compel the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the conflict.
Urge your Representative to sign the Pocan-Amash-Lieu-Jones letter by signing our petition at MoveOn.