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Undeclared War

November 14, 2009 11:17 AM

Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America declares that one of the powers of Congress is

"To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water."
Statist Republicans in the Bush Administration, and now kingpins of the "Democrat" political party have ignored that key provision of Constitutional law, and have constructed alternative interpretations of America's response to militant jihad. The Bush Administration's response to the 9/11/2001 jihad attack on the World Trade Center was to declare war on "terror." No Congressional declaration of war was sought, leaving a huge legal gap through which "Progressives" could attack Republicans and America in general, as they are now doing. The "Democrat" party, on the other hand, views jihad attacks as "man-caused disasters" (like global warming), and their perpetrators as criminals, like organized crime or tax dodgers. What a mess!

Why did President Bush avoid requesting a Congressional declaration of war after 9/11? One reason is obvious: the United States were not attacked by any nation-state, but by a private organization called al-Qa'eda. Declare war? Against whom? I can only guess that a second reason was considered: Congress would have dithered over a Declaration of War, and war might never have been declared.

Instead President Bush declared a "War on Terror," which was a bit of Executive Branch rhetoric, not a formal declaration of war according to the Constitution. The "War on Terror" was an effective piece of rhetoric and the nation, except for "Progressives" and some pacifist libertarians, rallied to the cause. However, "terror" is a tactic of war, not a nation-state. President Bush might as well have declared war on aircraft hijackings, improvised explosive devices, or Fort-Hood-style shooting rampages. Obama simply changed the word "terror" to the phrase "man-caused disaster" and President Bush's undeclared war ended.

Many things have changed since the Founders wrote Article 1, Section 8. After Hiroshima, and especially after Operation Iraqi Freedom, nation-states have learned that the United States of America are too powerful an enemy to engage in World War Two style warfare. Instead, strategies pioneered in Vietnam, which the military calls "asymmetrical" warfare, are used. Al-Qa'eda, a heavily funded private organization of saboteurs and assassins, attacked New York State, and therefore all the United States, on 9/11/2001, having been allowed to do so by the nation-state of Afghanistan, and possibly covertly encouraged by some of the more militant factions of the nation-state of Saudi Arabia (remember that most of the 9/11 operatives were Saudis.) It would have been highly unlikely, however, for Congress to declare war against either Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, so the "war on terror" strategy was concocted. Those chickens are still coming home to roost.

However, when the Founders did write Article 1, Section 8, however, they actually did provide for Constitutional authority to deal with al-Qa'eda-style warfare. Congress has the power to grant letters of Marque and Reprisal. After a some research on the topic, I learned that such a letter (remember, it would have to be issued by Congress, not the other branches) would authorize a private entity (in the past knows as "privateers") to cross borders (border-crossing is the meaning of "marque") and kick butt ("reprisal.") What a letter of Marque and Reprisal does, actually, is to legalize actions which would otherwise be considered piracy.

This has some interesting implications. For example, a private internationally funded organization could be given a letter of marque and reprisal by the United States Congress, to go into both Afghanistan and Pakistan to seek out and destroy the Taliban. An organization of that kind could also be given a Congressional letter of marque and reprisal to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and assassinate Iran's mullahs. Would that lead to gang warfare, international chaos, and mass insanity? Maybe. But what we have right now is gang warfare (Afghan drug lords, Taliban killers, etc.) , international chaos (the UN), and mass insanity (the "Democrat" party agenda.) Furthermore, Congress could revoke its letter of marque and reprisal, thus acknowledging that the previously supported organization had turned into a gang of pirates.

Science fiction? It sounds like it. But the words are right there in the Constitution, and there have already been at least two legislative attempts to introduce acts of marque and reprisal in Congress, both by Ron Paul. The first, introduced the month after 9/11, apparently stalled in committee. The second, H.R. 3216: Marque and Reprisal Act of 2007, when President Bush was still in office, also stalled in committee. Both of the Ron Paul measures would have had Congress delegate the power to the President of the United States to issue such letters.

My view is that the power should remain with Congress, and I would be concerned with its delegation to the President. Can you imagine Obama issuing letters of marque and reprisal against entities considered by the "Progressives" to be enemies? Yikes!

However, if and when representational and Constitutional government (without voter fraud) is restored to the United States, if ever, letters of marque and reprisal might be a much better way to deal with "asymmetrical" attacks that the present statist Republican and leftist "Democrat" approach.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org bush congress marque president reprisal states war ]