The US Constitution, Section I, Article 8:
“The Congress shall have the power…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”
We are not at war unless and until Congress declares War. No matter what scale of military action happens otherwise, including Vietnam, we are not at war. George W. Bush is not a “wartime President,” and neither was Lyndon Johnson. The citizens of the US do not have to give up their civil liberties because “We are at war,” because we are not at war.
It would be different, perhaps, if the Constitution didn’t spell out clearly how War is declared, but it does: only Congress can declare war. That’s so your elected representatives have the great deliberation on the use of the nation’s armed forces, not the whims of a single man. The framers intended it that way, too, as this fellow from the Cato Institute points out.
I’m still slammed and incommunicado (and have an appointment tonight), but this “we’re building up to war” and “we’re at war” crap has bothered me for too long. We are not at war and will not be unless Congress actually declares war. Not “authorizes military action,” not “confirms the President’s foreign policy,” but declares war. Until then, the President is simply using the army to advance his global aims, be they good or evil, and almost certainly against the direct intentions of the Constitution’s writers.
Where are the “strict constructionists” on this issue? [Life and Deatherage]