Thursday, 05 September 2013 09:17

Rand Paul Firm on Syria; Schools Secretary Kerry on Constitution

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On Wednesday, September 4, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) showed Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) what being a “maverick” really means.

After voting against a measure sponsored by McCain authorizing President Obama to order a military attack on Syria, Paul laid out the moral and constitutional issues with waging war on the Assad regime:

We are told there is no military solution in Syria, yet we are embarking on a military solution. The President has failed to demonstrate a compelling American national interest in the Syrian civil war.

To be sure, there is a tragedy of a horrific nature in Syria, but I am unconvinced that a limited Syrian bombing campaign will achieve its intended goals. I frankly think that bombing Syria increases the likelihood of additional gas attacks, may increase attacks on Israel and Turkey, may increase civilian deaths, may increase instability in the Middle East, and may draw Russia and Iran further into this civil war.

By pre-announcing a limited attack, we pre-announce limited effect.

Our brave young soldiers should not be asked to risk their lives and limbs in a civil war with no certain ally. On the one hand, we have a tyrant who gassed his own people. On the other hand, we have radical Islamists and al-Qaida. When no compelling American interests exist, we should not intervene. No compelling interests exist in Syria.

Despite Paul’s appeal to reason and the rule of law, McCain’s measure passed out of committee by a vote of 10-7.

During the hearing, Paul offered an amendment aimed at reminding his colleagues of the constitutional limits on the executive branch.

Paul’s amendment declared, “It is the sense of the Senate that the President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Not surprisingly, the committee voted 14-4 against Paul’s amendment.

Undaunted, should the full body of the Senate be permitted to vote on the call to grant the president dictatorial war-waging power, Senator Paul promises to renew his retrenchment measure. “It should be made explicit that the Constitution invested the power to go to war in Congress. Since the Administration refuses to say it will abide by this vote, win or lose, Congress should send a clear message,” Paul said.

Standing alone or nearly so is a familiar position for the freshman senator and would-be presidential candidate. From surveillance to aid to Egypt, from the use of drones to target American citizens to launching illegal and unconstitutional military operations in Syria, Paul has stood up for the Constitution, in open and hostile defiance of GOP leadership.

Republican leaders in both houses of Congress have contracted the fever for spilling blood in Syria. As reported by The New American:

In the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other GOP stalwarts appear ready to join Senate counterparts McCain, Graham, and others in bowing to Obama's global mission of defending peace through what some have called "humanitarian bombing." Even Democrats, who have been known to turn rather completely against wars they had previously authorized, may be walking into a trap by voting to authorize the military action, because Obama can force them to share in the blame if it turns into a debacle.

As the following transcript of Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reveals, Rand Paul schooled the secretary on the separation of powers and other basic constitutional principles.

Sen. Paul: Thank you for coming today. It’s not often I get to compliment the president. I can only count the number of times on one hand, but when I first heard that the president was going to come to Congress, boy was I pleasantly surprised, I was proud of my president. I didn’t vote for him and I still am opposed to him quite a few times, but I was proud that he did this, and I was just about to stand on my feet and clap and give him a standing ovation, and then I heard, "Well, if I lose the vote, I’ll probably go ahead and do the bombing anyway."

And so it does concern me. I want to be proud of the president but every time I’m just about there, then I get worried that really, he doesn’t mean it — that he’s going to sort of obey the Constitution if he wins. So I heard Secretary Kerry say, "if we win, sure, but if we lose"? What? Make me proud today, Secretary Kerry. Stand up for us and say you’re going to obey the Constitution even if we vote you down, which is unlikely by the way, but if we do, you would go with what the people say through their Congress and you wouldn’t go forward with a war that your Congress votes against. Can you give me a better answer, Secretary Kerry?

Sec. Kerry: I can’t give you a different answer than I gave you. I don’t know what the president’s decision is, but I can tell you this, and it ought to make you proud, because he still has the constitutional authority and he would be in keeping with the Constitution.

Sen. Paul: I disagree with you there. I don’t believe he has the constitutional authority. I think Congress has this. Madison was very explicit when he wrote the Federalist Papers. He wrote that history supposes, or the Constitution supposes what history demonstrates that the executive is the branch most likely to go to war, and therefore the Constitution vested that power in the Congress. It’s explicit and runs throughout all of Madison’s writings. This power is a congressional power and is not an executive power.

They didn’t say,"big" war or "small" war. They didn’t says "boots on the ground," "not boots on the ground" — they said "declare war." Ask the people on the ships launching the missiles whether they’re involved with war or not.

If we do not say that the Constitution applies, if we do not say explicitly we will abide by this vote, you’re making a joke of us, you’re making us into theater, and so we play constitutional theater for the president. You’re probably going to win. Just go ahead and say it’s real and let’s have a real debate in this country and not a meaningless debate that’s in the end you lose and say, oh well we had the authority anyway. We’re going to go ahead to war anyway.

And for the next eight minutes or so, Senator Paul exposed the hypocrisy and constitutional disdain demonstrated by the president and his fellow warmongers on Capitol Hill.  

For 10 minutes total, Senator Paul stood with James Madison and the Constitution and against McCain, Graham, Boehner, Cantor, Obama, Kerry, Reid, and Pelosi.

Reports around the country indicate that the American people are informing lawmakers that they oppose military intervention in Syria. When the order to attack comes and President Obama and his congressional co-conspirators ignore the people, there will be little distinguishing the United States from the bellicose empires of history.

While it's nearly certain that the president and Congress will pull the trigger and launch missiles on Syria, it remains to be seen how the American people will respond to this haughty disregard of their will.


Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Friday, 06 September 2013 09:44 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    Rand Paul probably cannot mention that Kerry is an INSIDER. Not only is Kerry a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, but also he is a member of Yale's Skull and Bones. Kerry will follow whatever these groups formulate. And Rand Paul can go fly a kite, so far as Kerry is concerned.

    Once people read books like "Shadows of Power," they will become educated enough to come to this conclusion.

  • Comment Link Tony Butler Friday, 06 September 2013 07:14 posted by Tony Butler

    One of the great things the Constitution does is to prevent tyranny by a despotic executive.

    If Congressmen can be ignored, along with the Constitution, those advocating this set themselves above the very law they were appointed to uphold.

    Beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing.

  • Comment Link Mr Jeffrey Ray Hardin Thursday, 05 September 2013 21:22 posted by Mr Jeffrey Ray Hardin

    Isn't it ironic...The very two, Kerry & Hagel that Rand confirmed despite the demands from millions of Americans that he not. Now does not hold himself responsible for their drumming for war or possibly leading us into a war giving aid and comfort to our global enemy's. The very enemy's that call for the annihilation of all Jewish decedents, man, woman and child.

    And he uses the lame excuse to rubber stamp these fools as it being the Presidents right to choose who he wants regardless of their records?!

    Rand is an Establishment Republican and could care the less what we the American People want. He has become no different than the rest of them, and like Rubio, use their voting records as a photo opts while disregarding what we demand of them...

  • Comment Link REMant Thursday, 05 September 2013 21:02 posted by REMant

    Perspective seems always to depend on one's position, but Kerry filp-flops so much he bids fair to surpass Halifax the Trimmer. However, the question I suppose we ought all to be asking ourselves is if the Syrian regime did order the alleged attack, were they prompted by Egyptian and Bahraini example? And, if so, why do we back autocrats in these places, but not in Libya and Syria? Autocracy is surely autocracy, and equally repugnant to the kind democracy being promised by these internationalists. Kerry calls this a "Munich Moment," however we are not talking about war, but rebellion and no law applies. There's no responsibility to protect in our Constitution. Indeed quite the opposite. Unless you consider putting down rebellion to be such. Kerry says to do nothing will encourage crimes against humanity, but what kind of precedent will be set by coming to the aid of every dissident group? Clearly we do not intend to do that. Why then would we have we virtually ignored the victims of Israeli aggression in Gaza and the West Bank? Why pick on Russia, Iran and Syria? And if we say we are just opposed to religious radicalism, are we not, in fact, taking sides in a religious conflict? He, in fact, joins only Hollande is invoking responsibility to protect, and in so doing descends constantly into the language of regime change, completely at odds with the assertion we have limited objectives with respect to the use of WMD. Why have we ignored the victims of Bhopal and Agent Orange? What makes chemical weapons worse than many others, like the fire-bombing of Dresden and Hamburg? The use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? If Americans are opposed to intervention and Congress ignores them, will it not lower them even further in their eyes? And how about those ladies we always hear complaining about brutality? Are they not Janet Reno's? Kerry says we will not put American boots on the ground, but that we will put them in the skies seems a virtual certainty, and the promise of a Libya-style maneuver no doubt promised the McCain's, Graham's and Rogers'.

  • Comment Link Jack Coleman Thursday, 05 September 2013 18:01 posted by Jack Coleman

    I have the same feeling.

  • Comment Link matthew schoech Thursday, 05 September 2013 13:51 posted by matthew schoech

    "Be it thy course, to busy giddy minds. With foreign quarrels; that action, hence borne out, May waste the memory of the former days." Benghazi, NSA Spying, IRS targeting, Fast and Furious, etc etc.

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