Ron Paul Slams Obama On Libya And The Constitution on CNN – June 29th 2011
REPORTER: Coming up: outspoken Congressman Ron Paul who’s running for president. How does he feel about the president’s dire forecast if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling? We’ll ask him next.
President Obama stated emphatically today that the American military mission in Libya does not fall under the jurisdiction of the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The administration’s position has angered not only many Republicans on Capitol Hill, but many Democrats as well. We’re joined tonight by Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who’s also running for the GOP presidential nomination. Congressman Paul, thank you for joining us. First of all, you think the president does not have the right to engage the US in the NATO-led effort in Libya without Congress’ approval. Today in his press conference, the president made clear that he believes the law does allow him to make this commitment on his own. Listen to this for a moment if you would.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m not a Supreme Court Justice, so I’m not going to put my Constitutional law professor hand on here. Do I think that our actions in any way violate the War Powers Resolution? The answer is no. So I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question.
REPORTER: Simply sir, what’s your reaction?
RON PAUL: That’s a horrible statement. No, he should get to the Constitution. He doesn’t have to be a Constitutional lawyer. You take an oath of office to obey the Constitution. If we don’t know what it says, how can we take the oath? The Constitution is very clear: you don’t go to war without a declaration. I agree; there’s some confusion with the War Powers Resolution because, technically, it legalized war rather than prevented war. So, I don’t particularly like that bill, but even if it’s the law of the land, even that he has violated because he can’t go to war by talking to United Nations and NATO and refusing to talk to the Congress. I think this is so sad and the kind of thing I have been fighting with both parties for decades now. I think it’s taken one step worse because he’s been a little bit more aggressive in declaring that he is the unitary president, that he can do what he wants – he doesn’t have to tell the Congress. So I find it rather sad that he’s taken that position.
REPORTER: We’ll get back to the question of consulting Congress, but first I want to ask you about a point Senator John Kerry raised. As you know, he’s the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, and he raised the point that if Congress wanted a say in this, they actually had a chance. Listen to this.
JOHN KERRY: You’re saying the president violated the process here and didn’t come to the Congress. He did come to the Congress. He sent us a letter requesting us to do the authorization, and we didn’t do it. That’s the simple fact here.
REPORTER: He’s saying that Congress dropped the ball at the very beginning. Do you acknowledge that Congress could have done something and didn’t?
RON PAUL: They could’ve done a lot more a lot sooner; that is true. They shouldn’t have waited for more than 90 days. They should have immediately let the president know that he was violating the War Powers Resolution and the Constitution. But I don’t know what he’s talking about on the appropriations. He has no explicit appropriations for this war. So he doesn’t have the money and he doesn’t have the authority, and we’re slipping into another war. Nobody can even count the wars. Nobody knows whether this is number four or number five. With a country that’s flat-out broke and we allow our presidents to do this, this just means that the Constitutional process and the economic situation in this country is totally out of control.
REPORTER: Today the president said – you raised the question of consultation. Today the president said that the criticism that he has not sufficiently consulted with Congress, is actually just partisan politics. He says he has consulted with Congress repeatedly, had people in repeatedly, addressed this issue repeatedly. So are you using this issue simply to score political points?
RON PAUL: He hasn’t called me and he hasn’t come to the Congress. You know, the Congress is everybody, and if you follow the laws – the law says, the Constitution says if you go to war, you have to have a declaration, and you can’t replace that with saying, “Well we had a UN Resolution. We went to NATO.” You know, many many years ago after WWII, when NATO was set up, Mr. Republican Robert Taft said don’t get into NATO because, before you know it, we’ll use NATO for having us slip into these wars, and his predictions were exactly right. The sovereignty on this nation depends on us and not the UN. The Constitution’s the law of the land, and we don’t have to be the Constitutional lawyers to understand that. We don’t need lawyers to tell us what to do and not to do because we shouldn’t be in office if we don’t understand what the Constitution says. It’s plain and simple. But he’s not the first. It’s been going on for so long. As a matter of fact, Truman was the first one to do it. He went in under the UN resolution. I’m sure if I had been in Congress back in 1950, I’d have been as outraged as I am now. That’s a slippery slope, and unfortunately, it’s a large participant in our bankruptcy. Right now, it’s estimated that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the new estimates will be over four trillion dollars. It’s so hard to estimate at a time when we can’t even pay for medical care for people in this country.
REPORTER: The president also made a point about the message that this debate that’s happening in the US is sending to the broader world. Here’s what he said.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We should be sending out a unified message to this guy that he should step down and give his people a fair chance to live their lives without fear, and this suddenly becomes the cause celebre for some folks in Congress? Come on.
REPORTER: This guy – he’s talking about Qaddafi, that the US should be unified in saying Qaddafi should step down. He seemed to be implying –
RON PAUL: So Qaddafi is the only bad guy in the world?
REPORTER: Do you agree that members of Congress who are calling for US troops to leave Libya are sending mixed messages to Qaddafi? And is it important that US politicians are unified on the issue?
RON PAUL: Well, no it’s not important. What is a free country supposed to do? What a democracy supposed to do? What are the debates all about? This idea that you can’t dissent from a president that we sincerely believe is thwarting the Constitution – we’re not supposed to say anything?! I mean, that’s just beyond imagination. The whole idea – because he’s a bad guy and we don’t like him and he might’ve done something if we hadn’t gone in – well they said he, Qaddafi, might kill civilians. How many civilians have been killed since we’ve been involved in bombing them? Hundreds! Maybe thousands of individuals [have] been killed over there, and Qaddafi is not killing his own people. But there are a lot of bad people in the world. Does he want to do that in every dictatorship around the country?
But we have, since the Cold War ended, we’ve assumed this responsibility that we have to dictate to every single country which dicatator should run their country. So when there’s a good dictator, we give him a lot of money. When they turn against us or we decide he’s a bad dictator – I mean it wasn’t so many years ago that we were doing business with Qaddafi, just a few years ago! It’s just over and over. One moment we’re their best friends – you know, we were on the same side as bin Laden was when the Soviets were in Afghanistan. Then he became our arch enemy. Saddam Hussein was our best friend in the 80’s. We helped him and we even helped them get a nuclear reactor at one time. So, it’s this flip-flopping around and we forget about the purpose of the Congress and the president is to protect the sovereignty and the safety of this country, not to take care of the whole world and police and decide which dictator is going to run every country.
REPORTER: Switching gears sir, if we could for a moment. Let’s talk about the economy here. You’re opposed to cutting a deal to raise the debt ceiling. You’ve argued that we should just let that deadline come and go and that we’ll survive without a financial crisis. But in a press conference today, the president disagreed.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I want to address what I’ve been hearing from some quarters, which is, “Well maybe this debt limit thing is not really that serious. We can just pay interest on the debt”. For the US government to start picking and choosing like that is not going to inspire a lot of confidence. Moreover, which bills are we going to decide to pay? Are we really going to start paying interest to Chinese who hold treasuries, and we’re not going to pay folks their social security checks?
REPORTER: So, sir, which bills would you pay, or do you dispute the whole proposition?
RON PAUL: For the president to imply that we don’t take it serious – matter of fact we think it’s very very serious – we just think that continuing the process is worse than facing up to the facts that we’re flat-out broke. So he should never challenge and tell us that we’re not seriously worried about this. But the whole thing is, fear tactics is the tool of big government. Just think of how we go to war. This whole thing about Saddam Hussein, how he was ready to unleash nuclear weapons on us, so we go to war and none of that was true. And then also when the crisis hit in 2008: “Oh if we don’t bail out all of these big banks and corporations and the Fed doesn’t double or triple the money supply it’ll be the end of the financial world and the end of Western Civilization”. That was how people said, “Ok we better go and do it”. So now, once again, he’s using the fear tactics.
REPORTER: Bottom line: if we do not raise the debt ceiling, you think the US will not suffer a financial crisis?
RON PAUL: Well we’re in the middle of a financial crisis and it’s going to get worse no matter what we do, and it’s going to get much worse if we don’t quit spending and printing money because we’re defaulting. They say we can’t do this or we’ll default on our promises. We’ve done this many times. We default every single day when prices go up because that’s the depreciation of the money, so we’re in the middle of default.
REPORTER: Thank you so much. I wish we could continue. We’re out of time. Thanks for being with us Congressman Ron Paul.
RON PAUL: Ok. Thank you.