Obama Shreds Constitution To Create Contrived Authority Outside Terror War Mandate

[If authority under Article II of the Constitution really gave the executive the authority to defend US-trained mercenary forces, then that would have been used by Reagan to authorize the illegal defense of the Contras in Nicaragua.]

 U.S. Defense Undersecretary Christine E. Wormuth testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16, 2015.U.S. Defense Undersecretary Christine E. Wormuth testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 16, 2015.  AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Senators Question Obama Administration’s New Legal Argument For Fighting in Syria

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Administration officials have begun arguing that the president has the authority, in certain circumstances, to order action against Assad’s forces.

Obama administration officials have begun telling senators that the legal authorizations that undergird the war on terror don’t permit the U.S. military to defend U.S.-trained Syrian fighters against troops commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — but that the Constitution does.

“If Syrian government forces attack the Syrian fighters we have trained and equipped while they were engaging ISIL, the President would have the authority under Article II of the Constitution to defend those fighters,” a senior administration official told Defense One.

It’s an acknowledgement that the mission in Syria has grown past its already-stretched-thin legal framework, and a hint that the White House is contemplating increasing anti-ISIS military action in Syria beyond the ongoing air campaign — perhaps by enforcing no-fly zones or safe enclaves on the ground.

As recently as July, military officials on the ground in the region told Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., that the rules of engagement didn’t allow American troops to protect the Syrian fighters. But in an Armed Services hearing last week, Kaine asked what authority would allow such action. Defense Undersecretary Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s policy chief, responded that the existing authorizations for the use of military force, or AUMFs, cover actions against ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliates, but not against Assad’s armed forces.

But if U.S.-trained Syrian forces “are attacked by the regime in a particular circumstance, we could — the president could exercise his Article II rights under the Constitution,” Wormuth said.

Responded Kaine, “I have not seen an interpretation of Article II — ever — that would allow the United States to undertake action under Article II to protect others’ fighters.”

Such concerns have led other members of the Armed Services Committee to ask Defense Secretary Ash Carter for a briefing on the changes he is considering for the program and the new legal argument. “The troubling state of the program calls into question its role in our counter-ISIL operations,” wrote Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in a letter released Friday evening.

Senators have been asking such questions since early July, when the first class of the U.S. program was preparing to graduate. Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, S.C., and Mike Lee, Utah, said they have yet to hear back from the Defense Department on similar questions they asked three months ago. Lee was set to receive a briefing on the issue, but it was moved to Monday due to Pope Francis’s visit.

Initially, Carter said the United States had an obligation to the Syrians it trained to fight ISIS — but said he didn’t know whether that included the use of force. Administration officials have since hedged on how far they would go to defend them, saying Assad’s forces had heeded back-channel warnings to stay out of the way of U.S. and coalition forces – and by extension, the U.S.-trained fighters.

“They’ve basically stated ‘the new rules of engagement we have would allow us to do it,’ so to state that ‘we can do it,’ but then say, ‘Don’t worry, we probably won’t have to, so we don’t have to have an answer on the legal authority question,’ is disingenuous,” Kaine told Defense One earlier this month. “If they change the rules of engagement to allow it to be done, then they’ve got to have a legal rationale.”

Kaine said senators who previously were content to accept the administration’s legal arguments have become concerned that the mission in Syria has crept past the limits of the AUMFs.

“We haven’t really authorized the war at all yet,” he said. “I think we’re going to get dragged into doing an authorization because this thing is mutating and more complexities are coming up.”

When asked whether the AUMF covers engaging Assad’s forces, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said simply, “It does not.”

“And I would think any AUMF that we put forth, it would be important for that element to be there, to protect the train and equip people that are coming forward,” Corker told Defense One.

I passed with others an AUMF to deal with this issue in 2013,” he said. “And had that happened and the president carried out the activities, had he actually wanted there to be a debate instead of jumping into the lap of Putin, and Iran, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

US Readies “Irregular Warfare” Scheme For Baltics

US ‘preparing’ for hybrid warfare with Russia in Baltics – report

Russia-Today

 

Soldiers take part in an exercise of the U.S. Army's Global Response Force in Hohenfels near Regensburg © Michael Dalder
US has been getting ready for a possible war involving Russia in Europe’s Baltic States, German media reports. The report says all the NATO war games organized in the region by Washington have been intended to prepare various military response scenarios.

The Pentagon has shifted its military thinking when it comes to Moscow, selecting Russia’s direct neighbors in the Baltic region as the battleground, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) writes.

What the US sees playing out is hybrid warfare, which employs irregular troops and focuses on destabilizing the region via mass rallies as well as cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, according to the newspaper.

READ MORE: NATO to boost special defense forces to 40,000 – Stoltenberg

The conflict in Ukraine has been used by the US as a catalyst for more preparations: “Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine urged the US to dust off its emergency plans. They were pretty outdated,” former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), Michele Flournoy, was quoted as saying.

Moscow, however, has repeatedly denied playing a role in the Ukrainian conflict. Despite repeated accusations by Kiev and its Western backers that Russia was supporting the rebelling eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk with weapons and manpower, no evidence has been presented to support the claims.

Estonian soldiers take part in NATO military exercise Hedgehog 2015 at the Tapa training range in Estonia © Ints Kalnins

Nevertheless, since the crisis in Ukraine began, the number of war games held by NATO in Europe has surged. All of the military exercises have focused on a response to a situation in which Russia presumably takes over the Baltic region.

According to the German newspaper, a “Russian threat” has been used as an excuse to justify increased military spending in eastern European NATO countries and provide a reason for US troops to be stationed in Europe.

READ MORE: 24 generals from 13 NATO countries gather in Latvia to train joint operations

DWN adds that there are 40,000 US soldiers in Germany alone, with additional American tanks and artillery on their way to the Baltic States.

So far, the Pentagon has only war games in mind for the Baltic States. However, nuclear options are also being examined. Recent reports have suggested that US nuclear weapons could soon be coming to Germany, despite a 2009 decision to withdraw the old American nuclear arsenal.

Last week there were media reports that the Pentagon was reviewing and updating its contingency plans for a war with Russia for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Given the security environment, given the actions of Russia, it has become apparent that we need to make sure to update the plans that we have in response to any potential aggression against any NATO allies,” a senior defense official familiar with the plan told Foreign Policy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Italian media in June that such “scaremongering” should not be taken seriously, stressing that Russia’s military is “not global, offensive, or aggressive,” and that it has “virtually no bases abroad.” He added that the few that do exist abroad are remnants of its Soviet past.

READ MORE: NATO stages huge airborne drill in Europe, says ‘acting in purely defensive manner’ (VIDEO)

“I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO. I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia. They just want to play the role of front-line countries that should receive some supplementary military, economic, financial or some other aid,” Putin said at the time.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in August that the US has boosted its troop presence at Russia’s borders to achieve “dominance” in Europe, adding that the military buildup is “counter-productive” and serves as a “financial burden” for member states, as it “distracts” the alliance from dealing with other threats.

Russian troops are at the Donguz military base in the Orenburg Region, the site of the troops practical operations stage, a part of the Tsentr-2015 command post exercise © Sergey Mamontov

After reports of “American missiles put in a certain location and about certain ammunition depots in Eastern European countries and the Baltic,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov, stated that NATO is provoking Russia into an “arms race.”

Both Russia and NATO have been staging military drills recently, with both closely watching each other.

In August, the US military launched the largest NATO airborne drills in Europe since the end of the Cold War in what it called an effort to enhance the “security and stability” of the region.

About 5,000 soldiers from 11 NATO member states are participating in “simultaneous multinational airborne operations” which started last week and will last for almost a month, the US army said in a statement.

READ MORE: ‘Third World War would be last for humanity’ – Duma speaker

Earlier in the month, the US deployed two MQ-1 Predator long-range unmanned surveillance drones and 70 airmen to Latvia for a training mission.

NATO’s drills were answered by Russia’s own, when more than 95,000 troops belonging to Russia and its regional allies launched the annual Center exercises spanning from the Volga River to Siberia. The large-scale drills were the biggest Russia has seen since the Cold War.

Back in May, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia jointly asked for permanent NATO bases, alleging that Russia has the capacity to invade them within four hours of ordering an attack. Moscow lashed out at the move, saying it contravenes the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.

German Town Takes Woman’s Apartment To House Syrian “Draft-Dodgers”

“The reason for the move was the large number of unaccompanied young men who are assigned to the city. Many private landlords were reluctant to house them. Therefore, the city should seek their own living room, to the men be housed in groups.”

2BEA3FC500000578-3220673-image-a-39_1441266519607[SEE:  Fighting-age young men dominate “refugee” flow to Europe]

Bettina-HalbeyBettina Halbey

She lives alone on 90 square meters

I totally by surprise“: NRW City announces tenant for refugees

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Nieheim, Wohnung
urn-newsml-dpa-com-20090101-150903-99-06073-large-4-3dpa / Daniel Bockwoldt,  800,000 refugees expected Germany by end of year
In the small town of Nieheim, two tenants have to look for a new apartment: The city needs to provide housing for refugees. One of the tenants will not be satisfied with the decision: Bettina Halbey finds dealing “impossible” with her. They even considering legal action against the city.
To make room for refugees who choose East Westphalian town of Nieheim has two tenants of municipal flats terminated. Here, if it were “dismissals for legitimate interest” in accordance with § 573 of the Civil Code, said the city’s mayor, Rainer Vidal (independent).

The reason for the move was the large number of unaccompanied young men who are assigned to the city. Many private landlords were reluctant to house them. Therefore, the city should seek their own living room, to the men be housed in groups.

“This dismissal – which is like a kick”

With a tenant, the city Nieheim have already agreed, to August 2016 could still live in the urban apartment, according to the mayor. Famous was the measure of the town, because the other tenant had publicly criticized.

The nurse Bettina Halbey said the “world” that she was “completely surprised” by the decision of the city. You find it “still impossible” as the City Bypass with her. “I’ll go with the whole situation not clear.” According to information from the “world” survived the 51-year-old alone in a 90 square meter apartment, since their now adult children have moved out.

They have for years “durchgewurschtelt with sorrow and distress” as a single mother, so Halbey for “world”. “And then just to get this notice. That was like a kick. ”

The city offers you help in finding accommodation at

The Mayor of Nieheim sees things differently. The tenant still have to May 2016 period, to look for a new apartment. Here, the city wanted to help her, Vidal said. Especially for a single person there was sufficient living space, but it lacked to accommodate larger groups.

For Halbey the apartment search is especially difficult: the “world”, she told that she had a cat and a dog – and with pets it is difficult to find a new apartment. According to the report it is considering legal action against the dismissal.

In Nieheim currently reside 71 asylum seekers. In the future, per month plus about 20, said Mayor Vidal. The municipal gym will not be used for housing. Because of school and club sport then at least 1,000 people have been affected and not just a few, Vidal said.

Mieterbund looks decision critical of the city

The German Tenants’ Association expressed criticism of the actions of the city. It is “legally problematic and politically disastrous,” a spokesman said on Thursday. It go in the paragraph to own requirements, the should be taken only by natural persons and not by cities or companies to complete, so the tenants’ association.

It should also be no solution to terminate tenants to accommodate refugees. So you play the German population and the refugees in the housing market against each other.