Truth Be Told

Issue 1: Bush the War Criminal?

A main argument against President George W. Bush is that his recent actions in Iraq were illegal and therefore he is a war criminal and should be brought to justice. Now although this argument sounds very strong, in truth it's very incongruous.

The argument would be because of the Constitution, in particular Article I, Section 8: "Congress shall have the power to declare war…" Since the Congress did not declare war against Iraq, the troops should have engaged in war and therefore the President usurped the "law of the land" and waged his own personal illegal war.

It's a viable argument, but let's take a look at a few things. First off, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states: "The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States." Seeing as that flight was not capable at this point, the Air Force obviously could not be included. The Marine Corps, in case you're wondering, is a department of the Navy. The militia, listed in the Constitution, would be our current National Guard.

So that would mean that President has full control of the military and they are at his disposal. This is undisputable.

Secondly, it also goes on to give the president full power over foreign affairs. It follows the paragraph after the President is given powers of Commander-in-Chief.

This would mean that if the President felt it necessary to foreign relations, he could, theoretically, use his powers as Commander-in-Chief to send the Armed Forces of the US to secure those relations and settle any affairs in a particular manner short of war. That theoretical thought is not mine; the Supreme Court of the United States in 1936, with the case United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation, decided it. Justice Sutherland delivered the opinion of the court, stating:

"It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations-a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution. It is quite apparent that if, in the maintenance of our international relations, embarrassment-perhaps serious embarrassment-is to be avoided and success for our aims achieved, congressional legislation which is to be made effective through negotiation and inquiry within the international field must often accord to the President a degree of discretion and freedom from statutory restriction which would not be admissible were domestic affairs alone involved. Moreover, he, not Congress, has the better opportunity of knowing the conditions, which prevail in foreign countries, and especially is this true in time of war. He has his confidential sources of information. He has his agents in the form of diplomatic, consular and other officials. Secrecy in respect of information gathered by them may be highly necessary, and the premature disclosure of it productive of harmful results."

This was a case in which FDR was granted power of Congress in regards to war to settle a growing war between Bolivia and Paraguay. This decision was never overturned.

Now if was to provide only this as a reason behind why the current President is not a war criminal would be to make this essay totally biased in favor of the Republican party—which I am apart of. However, in the interest of fairness, I will provide a counter to the Supreme Court's decision (one that was held up through the Vietnam Conflict in Massachusetts v. Laird [1970]).

In 1973 Congress passed a War Powers Resolution stating that, among other things, "The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into a situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United States Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations." (This is the beginning of Section 3 of the 1973 War Powers Resolution) It continues, at the end of Section 8, to say: "Nothing in this joint resolution-(1) is intended to alter the constitutional authority of the Congress or of the President, or the provision of existing treaties; or (2) shall be construed as granting any authority to the President with respect to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances which authority he would not have had in the absence of this joint resolution."

This, the reader could assume, would therefore mean indeed, the President did in fact lead an illegal war. However, in just a few moments, I'll prove that assumption completely wrong. In October of 2002, the Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of the military in Iraq. It stated:


(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.


(1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

(2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supersedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution."

This authorization by Congress gives the President full power to send the military into Iraq. Not only so, but it completely complies with the War Powers Resolution of 1973. That being so, any argument against the Congress that it illegally ceded its powers granted in Article I, Section 8 are moot.

Furthermore, if Congress felt that the President was operating illegally, it has the power to step in and pass a resolution forcing the President to not send the military into war. If this occurred and the President did indeed continue to send in the military, he could be brought to justice and impeached for breaking the law and, in actuality, committing treason against the United States of America. However, the Congress passed no such resolution, nor did it make any objections to the President in regards to sending the military into Iraq after the October 2002 resolution was passed.

In 1990, a case was brought to the Supreme Court against President George Bush, our current president's father. This case, Dellums v. Bush, was brought on by several members of the Senate and House of Representatives declaring the President had no right send in the military because of Article I, Section 8. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Bush, stating that at the time the Congress had not stepped in to prevent the president from sending the Armed Forces into Iraq, and therefore had no argument. This argument was put to rest January 15, 1991, when the Congress passed a resolution allowing the President to send in the US military in order force Iraq out of Kuwait—the United Nations backed this resolution.

Now the argument, I'm sure, will be brought up that the current President Bush "lied" to the nation about Iraq being a threat to the national security of the United States—the main argument here being the elusive Weapons of Massive Destruction and ties to terrorism.

In regards to the weapons of mass destruction, while I will declare outright they exist, I can say this: there is no definitive evidence showing the WMD does not exist. Not only so, but also on August 1, 2003, four MiG fighter jets were discovered buried in the sand. These jets were apart of the Iraqi Air Force and were in perfect working order, still able to sustain flight. That being said, the Weapons of Mass Destruction are not exactly the size of the Saturn V rocket (that was the rocket that launched the Apollo astronauts into space). Instead, we're looking for things that could be as small as a tire on a Mini Cooper, or even the size of a recreational vehicle—an RV trailer to be exact. It is not entirely impossible that these WMD are hidden somewhere in a country that is almost entirely covered in desert—if five fighter jets could go unnoticed for five months, it's possible that the WMD could be even more well hidden and therefore unnoticed for an even longer period of time. This is of course entirely speculation, but it does prove a point; that although the United States has yet to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction (these being the basic NBC: nuclear, chemical, and biological) it too has yet to find evidence of there being no weapons of mass destruction.

In regards to Hussein's ties to terrorism: TIME Magazine reported in it's August 18, 2003 issue that Ansar al-Islam, the terrorist organization that trained and had operated out of northern Iraq, was indeed an ally of Al Qaeda and that Hussein sent several dispatches to them. Not only so, but also at least one captured member of Ansar al-Islam admitted to being a member of Al Qaeda. Though this does not conclusively link Al Qaeda to Hussein, it begs question: why Hussein allowed Ansar al-Islam to operate freely in his country for a period of time?

Again, pure speculation, and a simple counter-argument could be "but that means nothing; it's heresay" and that would be absolutely true.

The point being is that President George W. Bush is not a war criminal, legally at least. I won't sit here and argue as to whether or not, morally, his actions were justified—every person is afforded the right to form their own opinion about what they believe is right or wrong. One person might be a die-hard pacifist and believe any conflict or violence is wrong whereas his counter could be a staunch war hawk. I mean, I eat meat—to some vegetarians and environmental/animal activists, this is seen as murderous and savage. I can't change how people think, I just want the truth to be known. This essay wasn't a moral argument—it was a legal one. The point was to show that the argument of Bush being a war criminal is wrong. I'm open to thoughts; however, as I've asked before, please make an intelligent response using factual, not rumor-based, arguments. Thank you.