United to Protect Democracy (UPD) is an advocacy group whose introductory web page describes it as a “nonpartisan nonprofit” organization established to hold the President of the United States accountable “to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations”. Like other organizations around the world, it sees its overall purpose as one guarding against authoritarianism and tyranny.
The governing board of UPD is made up of former Obama Administration attorneys led by legal director, Justin Florence. They have just filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration demanding he cough up all e-mails, memoranda, advisory opinions and/or anything which could be viewed as legal argumentation justifying the April 7, 2017 attack on the Syrian Airbase at Al-Shu’ayraat southeast of Homs City. These suits are normally filed after legal requests are made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which are rejected or ignored. We are assuming from Mr. Trumps pattern of behavior that the requests were ignored.
The background to this legal brouhaha is an event which took place in the Alqaeda-controlled town of Khaan Shaykhoon in Idlib Province, Syria. It was alleged, almost uniformly by compromised Western media, that the Syrian Air Force used Sarin gas (or something similar) indiscriminately killing over 80 civilians. Without even a scintilla of evidence from objective sources, the Western propaganda organs like the BBC, CNN, NBC, inter alia, attempted to whip up a frenzied reaction in the streets of Washington D.C., London, Paris and Berlin to ignite some punishing reaction to President Assad’s encroachment over the red line which former president Obama drew in one famous statement to the Press. The airbase was selected because of some unexplained method by which either the CIA or Pentagon determined that the Sarin gas loaded on Syrian bombers came from Al-Shu’ayraat. Let’s forget that the base was primarily a repair-replace facility. Let’s forget that 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched on the base and that only 23 made it to their target. And let’s forget what the target might have been because the only damage done was to one hangar and 6 inoperable MiG23s.
In a post we published on SyrPer, we exposed the nonsensical nature of the charges against the Syrian government. You remember the side-splitting scene of a man smoking a cigarette as masked “White Helmet” terrorists fiddled at the spot of the Sarin gas attack completely indifferent to the fact that Sarin gas is not dispelled by cigarette smoke. And you also remember the man holding his two fake dead babies and who turned out to be a member of Alqaeda.
The United States Senate ratified the United Nations Charter on July 28, 1945 thus making the charter law in this country. Its provisions have the same force as any statute and binds the U.S. to the obligations and duties spelled out in the body of the document. The U.N. Charter defines exactly when a country may use force against another. In Article 2 section 4, it provides that all states shall refrain from the threat of force or the use of force against another member state. And if the state has an argument to use force it must take the matter to the Security Council in accordance with Chapter VII’s requirements. Since Mr. Trump decided to use force 3 days after the incident at Khaan Shaykhoon, without consulting the Security Council, he was in violation of both American and international law. On this issue, it is a no-brainer.
But, Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States gives the sitting president the power to engage in hostile action only with the consent of Congress. He declined to seek Congress’ approval, unlike former President Obama’s blink in 2013 when the lies about Syrian Army use of CW were spreading in the MSM and poor Mr. Obama simply had no proof and could not bypass a Russian veto. So, he took the matter to Congress who rejected the use of force against Syria. At least his conduct was legal.
The U.S. Constitution is further buttressed by the War Powers Resolution passed on November 7, 1973 when an American population and Congress, aggrieved by a war in Vietnam’s jungles, sought to put limits on a president’s ability to send troops into war unilaterally. President Nixon tried to veto the legislation unsuccessfully. This is usually referred to as the “War Powers Act”. 50 U.S.C. Chapter 33.
“The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations 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.”
Since the President could not argue that Syria’s alleged action threatened the United States in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, he would be hard pressed to find any justification for his criminal act against Syria. And, given the fact he took military action without even a fig leaf of legality, it would seem this president is on the slow lane to impeachment. The lawsuit filed by UPD only seeks the divulgence of any articulated legal reason for Trump’s inane and possibly unlawful aggression against Damascus. Given what we know about Trump’s style of shooting from the hip, it is very unlikely there will be any academically valid articulation of his ill-advised foray into Syria.
And, you know, there is a third argument which is not being brought up sufficiently. Mr. Trump fired 59 Tomahawks at the airbase in Syria. That cost the U.S. an estimated $100,000,000 dollars in order to inflict damage to the Syrian military in the amount of $2,000,000. This president claims to be an economical Wunderkind of sorts. Well, do the figuring.
Attorney for 35 years and Supreme Court Certified Interpreter for Arabic/English
Diploma with Honors from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in 1968; B.A. University of Michigan in Ann Arbor 1968-1972; M.A. University of Michigan Dept. of Near Eastern Studies 1972-1974; Ph.D. Cand. Univ. of Michigan 1972-1977; Then went to law school. Credits: Harvard University for classes in Islamic Philosophy; Fellowships from University of Pennsylvania 1976; 2 from Univ. of Michigan. Read English, Arabic, German, French, Farsi, some Hebrew. Studied Ancient Greek and Latin before grad school. Michigan Supreme Court Certified Interpreter/Translator for Arabic and English