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Re: The Washington Post Isn’t Making Sense


A reader points me to the actual wording of the question that elicited Obama’s “The President does not have the power” response in 2007. Here’s what Charlie Savage, then of the Boston Globe, asked: “In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites–a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)”

So note, first, that the question strengthens my suggestion that Obama’s use of “unilaterally” means “without congressional authorization”; getting U.N. Security Council authorization does not mean he has been consistent with his 2007 remarks. Second, note that he was denying presidential power to act without congressional approval in a situation where a) the national-security stakes would be a lot higher and b) the same this-isn’t-really-a-war argument would be available.