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Jun-14-2011 11:05printcomments

Violating the Constitution on Wars and Civil Liberties

David Cicilline supports efforts to limit the war in Afghanistan, while James Langevin voted to let the war continue indefinitely despite mounting civilian casualties...

David Cicilline and James Langevin
David Cicilline and James Langevin

(RICHMOND, R.I.) - The last time the U.S. government obeyed the Constitution on going to war (Art. 1, Sec. 8) was on Dec. 8, 1941. Since then presidents have initiated numerous wars without congressional declarations.

To assert some control over these violations of the constitution, Congress passed the War Powers Act on Nov. 7, 1973 (over President Nixon’s veto).

But now President Obama has even thumbed his nose at that, regarding Libya.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich responded with a proposed resolution requiring the President to obey the War Powers Act with respect to Libya. On June 3 the House voted on Kucinich’s resolution (H Con Res 51). It had support from 87 Republicans and 61 Democrats – not enough to pass. The Rhode Island delegation split: Congressman David Cicilline voted to support the War Powers Act. James Langevin voted against it. (The House approved a weaker resolution by John Boehner, H Res 292.)

In recent weeks, Cicilline has also supported efforts to limit the war in Afghanistan. Langevin voted to let the war continue indefinitely despite mounting civilian casualties and Hamid Karzai’s demand that the U.S. and NATO stop bombing civilian homes.

The so-called “Patriot Act,” containing several violations of the constitution, was passed in 2001. Langevin voted for it – later admitting that he hadn’t read it. Then on May 26, 2011 Langevin voted to renew it for another four years (as part of S 990 on another subject). Cicilline voted against renewal.

On May 26 the House approved the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 1540. Buried in this long bill is Section 1034 which essentially gives the president a blank check to start more wars. Cicilline voted against it. Langevin, who probably didn’t read this bill either, voted for it.

I confess to being surprised by Cicilline’s independence. I had assumed he would simply follow congressional leaders as Langevin does.

Rod Driver studied engineering and mathematics at the University of Minnesota, receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1960. He worked at Sandia Laboratories in Albuquerque for six years before taking a teaching position at the University of Rhode Island for 30 years. Rod says he became a 'peacenik' in 1951 (thanks to a few weeks on Paris Island). He became particularly active in opposition to U.S. wars in Indochina and U.S. involvement in overthrowing governments and supporting dictators in Latin America and Iran. As the Vietnam war was winding down Rod began paying attention to the abuse of Palestinians - enabled with U.S. weapons and dollars, which has never stopped. Rod is the founder and president of the non-profit Justice First Foundation.

In Rhode Island Rod was an elected delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1986, Then I was elected a state representative for 10 years. At this time he is not in office. You can write to Rod Driver at this address:

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