Conyers Mounts Opposition to Iran Attack
Join Me in Calling on President Bush to Respect Congress' Exclusive Power to Declare War
From: The office of House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr.
May 8, 2008
Dear Democratic Colleague:
As we mark five years of war in
I hope that you will join me in calling on the President to respect Congress' exclusive power to declare war. To sign the letter below, please contact the Judiciary Committee staff at 225-3951.
John Conyers, Jr. Chairman
May 8, 2008
The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to register our strong opposition to possible unilateral, preemptive military action against other nations by the Executive Branch without Congressional authorization. As you know, Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power "to declare war," to lay and collect taxes to "provide for the common defense" and general welfare of the United States, to "raise and support armies," to "provide and maintain a navy," to "make rules for the regulation for the land and naval forces," to "provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia," and to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution ... all ... powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States." Congress is also given exclusive power over the purse. The Constitution says, "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."
By contrast, the sole war powers granted to the Executive Branch through the President can be found in Article II, Section 2, which states, "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the
Members of Congress, including the signatories of this letter, have previously expressed concern about this issue. On April 25, 2006, sixty-two Members of Congress joined in a bipartisan letter that called on you to seek congressional approval before making any preemptive military strikes against
Our concerns in this area have been heightened by more recent events. The resignation in mid-March of Admiral William J. "Fox" Fallon from the head of U.S. Central Command, which was reportedly linked to a magazine article that portrayed him as the only person who might stop your Administration from waging preemptive war against
As we and others have continued to review troubling legal memoranda and other materials from your Administration asserting the power of the President to take unilateral action, moreover, our concerns have increased still further. For example, although federal law is clear that proceeding under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance" can be conducted within the U.S. for foreign intelligence purposes, 18 U.S.C. 2511(2)(f), the Justice Department has asserted that the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping in violation of FISA is "supported by the President's well-recognized inherent constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs".  As one legal expert has explained, your Administration's "preventive paradigm" has asserted "unchecked unilateral power" by the Executive Branch and violated "universal prohibitions on torture, disappearance, and the like." 
Late last year, Senator Joseph Biden stated unequivocally that "the president has no authority to unilaterally attack
We agree with Senator Biden, and it is our view that if you do not obtain the constitutionally required congressional authorization before launching preemptive military strikes against
John Conyers, Jr. Chairman
 Mickey Edwards, Dick Cheney's Error,
 Letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., and 60 other Members of Congress, to President George W. Bush (Apr. 25, 2006) (on file with the Committee on the Judiciary).
 H. Con. Res. 33, 110th Cong. (2008)
 Thomas E. Ricks, Top U.S. Officer in Mideast Resigns,
 Dafna Linzer and Joby
 Department of Justice, Legal Authorities Supporting the Activities of the National Security Agency Described by the President, Jan. 19, 2006 at 1.
 David Cole, Less Safe, Less Free: Why America is Losing the War on Terror, 2007 at 2.
 Adam Leach, Biden: Impeachment if Bush Bombs