When Sessions said that we are not dependent on a NATO or UN resolution to execute policies in defense of the nation, Panetta replied:
When it comes to the kind of military action where we want to build a coalition and work with our international partners then obviously we would like to have some kind of legal basis to do it as we did in Libya.
SESSIONS: “Do you think you can act without Congress and initiate a no-fly zone in Syria without congressional approval?”
PANETTA: You know, again — our goal would be to seek international permission. And we would — we would come to the Congress and inform you and determine how best to approach this, whether or not we would want to get permission from the Congress. I think those are issues we would have to discuss as we decide what to do here.
SESSIONS: Well I am almost breathless about that because what I heard you say is, “we’re going to seek international approval and we’ll come and tell the Congress what we might do, and we might seek congressional approval.”… Wouldn’t you agree that would be pretty breathtaking to the average American?
PANETTA: If we are working with an international coalition or NATO we would want to be able to get appropriate permissions in order to be able to do that. All of these countries would want to have some kind of legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: What “legal basis” are you looking for? What entity?
PANETTA: If NATO made the decision to go in, that would be one. If we developed an international coalition beyond NATO then obviously some kind of U.N. security resolution would be the basis for that.
SESSIONS: So you are saying NATO would give you a “legal basis”? And an ad hoc coalition of nations would provide a “legal basis”?
PANETTA: We would seek whatever legal basis we would need in order to make that justified. We can’t just pull them all together without getting the legal basis on which to act.
SESSIONS: I’m all for having international support, but I’m really baffled by the idea that somehow an international assembly provides a legal basis for the United States military to be deployed in combat. I don’t think it’s close to being correct. They provide no legal authority. The only legal authority that’s required to deploy the U.S. military is the Congress and the president and the law in the Constitution.
This resolution, in my opinion, is a warning shot aimed at future military actions and not an indictment of past actions. Mr. Obama is not in the impeachment hot seat…yet. At least not with the filing of this resolution.
At issue here is the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541-1548) is a federal law intended to check the power of the President in committing the United States to an armed conflict without the consent of Congress.
The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.
Impeachment does not necessarily result in removal from office; it is only a legal statement of charges.
The Constitution defines impeachment at the federal level and limits impeachment to “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States” who may only be impeached and removed for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
- Panetta Testimony Prompts Resolution Threatening Impeachment (markamerica.com)