Small wars, overseas expeditions, and punitive raiding are endemic throughout U.S. history. From the outset of the republic, America began grappling with conflicts of tenuous definition and purpose. The constitution, despite vesting Congress with the power to declare war, was never particularly clear on what constituted adequate legislative justification, nor did it seek to deny the executive leeway over military initiative.
The power to make war, in the event of hostile aggression, remained with the executive. Additionally, far from being a vaunted tradition, the power to declare war has never required an official declaration of war to authorize military action. Indeed, this is the exception rather than the norm. Beyond the many naval actions conducted without any substantial Congressional writ, there is, beginning with the Quasi-War and the Barbary Wars, a long tradition of Congressional authorizations for war that are not formal declarations. From the Quasi-War to the Iraq War, the courts have upheld these distinction.
Yet there is clearly a large distinction between landing bluejackets against ports hosting pirates and privateers and today’s prolonged, massive targeted killing campaigns, at least in scale and scope. In logic, they are not so dissimilar. In the case of naval landings and punitive expeditions to defend American citizens and commerce abroad, the executive invoked unilateral prerogatives of national self-defense, or else the implicit (through Congressional maintenance of the standing navy) or explicit (Congressional authorizations of force) concurrence of the legislature. Acting against irregular actors, with varying levels of hostile state complicity, the executive used a large standing military force to engage in intermittent warfare.
There was a somewhat similar pattern of irregular and relatively small-scale hostilities during the many Indian Wars, but many of the Congressional authorizations lack meaningful modern analogues. More relevant, they were land wars, utilizing militias or federal troops mustered with direct Congressional approval. Despite occasional flirtations with a Napoleonic style land army from Federalists and nationalist politicians, the legislative constraints dovetailed with difficulties in central government resource extraction to limit a standing federal force that would grant the President leeway to engage in long land wars. Not only that, but given the relative weakness of the U.S. and the ubiquity of stronger European rivals, prolonged forays outside the American frontier were incredibly risky. So concerned was the early U.S. with interventions opening up broader conflicts that the Neutrality Act specifically circumscribed private citizens’ ability to follow their conscience or coin purse into combat.
Some 9,000 refugees have fled to Turkey in the past 24 hours in one of the largest exoduses on a single day since the start of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad 19 months ago. Seven Turkish nationals have also been injured by stray shells from Syria.
Thousands of Syrians fled to Turkey on Thursday night as clashes intensified between opposition forces and the Syrian army along the border.
The UN said some 9,000 refugees had led to Turkey in the past 24 hours, while another 2,000 went to Jordan and Lebanon. Panos Moumtzis, the UN refugee agency’s coordinator for the region, said the estimated figures are “really the highest we have had in quite some time,” compared with an average 2,000 to 3,000 Syrians fleeing daily. This brings the number of Syrian refugees registered with the agency to more than 408,000.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official had earlier put the latest influx at 8,000 — a single-day total that is sure to heighten Ankara’s concerns about the flood of refugees, given that the exodus is one of the largest on a single day since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year. Ankara earlier set the figure of 100,000 as a “psychological threshold,” suggesting that it would be difficult to handle a refugee flow beyond that number.
Mass murderer Anders Breivik has written a letter to the Norwegian prison authorities complaining about the conditions in jail.
The 33-year-old, convicted of killing 77 people, claims the tight security at an Oslo prison violates his human rights and the UN Torture Convention.
Breivik also claims that restricted access to a computer and censoring his correspondence ‘violates his freedom of speech,’ his lawyer said today.
After his prison sentence was handed down on August 24, Breivik has in practice been denied access to the computer which was provided for him before the court ruling, lawyer Tord Jordet told AFP.
Furthermore, all letters he sends and receives are censored as soon as politics is mentioned, he added.
Greek Bailout Cash ‘Unlikely to Be Unlocked on Monday’
Brussels officials say deal to release latest rescue funds may not be agreed at meeting of eurozone finance ministers
Greece faces a week of tense brinkmanship with its international paymasters after officials in Brussels conceded that a long-awaited deal to release €31.5bn of bailout cash is unlikely to be finalised on Monday.
Athens is due to repay €5bn-worth of debts next week, and had hoped to unlock the latest tranche of rescue funds at Monday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers.
But privately senior officials in Brussels say that the Europeans and the IMF are in deep dispute about Greece.
Monday’s meeting, postponed from this week, had been expected to sign off on the payout delayed since the summer, after the Greek parliament’s adoption of a controversial new austerity package at the behest of its creditors. The parliament is also expected to pass a new budget on Sunday.
But the Brussels official said: “One round of discussions may not suffice to come to a final decision on the whole package. I am not pretending we’ll come to a result and a solution on this.”
The first round in two weeks of tough talks on the European Union budget collapsed Friday after austerity-minded states refused to plug a 2012 budget shortfall in funds destined for Europe’s needy.
Friday’s talks had been scheduled to approve a budget for 2013 but instead snagged straight off on an 8.9-billion-euro ($11.3-billion) hole in this year’s spending, according to figures provided by the European Commission.
Approval for the massive EU budget must be agreed between the 27 member states and the European Parliament, but MEP Alain Lamassoure, who heads the assembly’s budget committee, said: “The council (of ministers) were unable to negotiate so the negotiations were suspended.
The collapse of the 2013 budget talks, which will resume Tuesday, augurs badly for a November 22-23 summit called to settle the bloc’s even more hotly disputed 2014-2020 spending plans.
Secret Service Said to Have Foiled Several Assassination Attempts on President Obama and Mitt Romney During the Campaign
President Obama and Mitt Romney may have had something much more serious to lose on this year’s campaign trail than the presidency: life itself.
A number of assassination plots were thwarted by Secret Service agents over the course of this campaign, according to one reporter, whose findings have come under scrutiny from the media in the wake of Tuesday’s election.
In an article about Romney’s intensive security detail written by GQ’s Marc Ambinder, the journalist said that in the Secret Service’s busiest year yet, “Several assassination plots were nipped in the bud.”
This claim was almost immediately questioned by members of the media, especially as Ambinder took to Twitter to suggest that more information might come out in a print edition of the article.
The Supreme Court on Friday said it would decide the constitutionality of a signature portion of the Voting Rights Act.
The justices three years ago expressed skepticism about the continued need for Section 5 of the historic act, which requires states and localities with a history of discrimination, most of them in the South, to get federal approval of any changes in their voting laws.
It is the second important case involving race that the court has accepted this term. Last month, the justices heard a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions policy that could redefine or eliminate the use of affirmative action in higher education.
The Section 5 requirements were passed during the darkest days of the civil rights struggle, paving the way for expanded voting rights for African Americans and greatly increasing the number of minority officeholders.
But critics say that the method for selecting the places requiring special supervision — nine states and certain parts of seven others — is outdated and that there is no need for imposing greater requirements for some areas of the country.
The court will be reviewing a decision last spring by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to uphold Section 5.
First passed in 1965, the act was most recently extended in 2006 with lopsided votes in both houses of Congress and signed with fanfare by President George W. Bush.
Thousands of Syrians fled their country on Friday in one of the biggest refugee exoduses of the 20-month civil war after rebels seized a border town, and the United Nations warned that millions more still in Syria will need help as winter sets in.
In Qatar, the main opposition group outside Syria elected a new leader. However, it will start talks on Saturday with other factions, including representatives of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, on forming a wider body that hopes to gain international recognition as a government-in-waiting.
The U.N. said 11,000 refugees had fled in 24 hours, mostly to Turkey. The influx caused alarm in Ankara, which is worried about its ability to cope with such large numbers and has pushed hard, so far without success, for a buffer zone to be set up inside Syria where refugees could be housed.
Rebels overran the frontier town of Ras al-Ain late on Thursday, continuing a drive that has already seen them push Assad’s troops from much of the north and seize several crossing points, a rebel commander and opposition sources said.
“The crossing is important because it opens another line to Turkey, where we can send the wounded and get supplies,” said Khaled al-Walid, a commander in the Raqqa rebel division.