"Gunny" Bob: Pelosi and Reid "attacking the Constitution"; Salazar and Udall "agree with the terrorists' point of view"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman falsely accused Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid of "attacking the Constitution" for stating that President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without the approval of Congress. Newman did not note that the War Powers Resolution of 1973 limits the president's ability to initiate armed conflict without the authorization of Congress.

On the February 15 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, "Gunny" Bob Newman falsely accused Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of "attack[ing] the constitutional powers of the president" when they separately declared (here and here) that President Bush lacks the authority to invade Iran without congressional approval. Newman then asked his listeners, "Is attacking the Constitution during time of war treason? ... Is it aiding and abetting the enemy?" He answered, "Sure it is." However, Newman failed to note that while the Constitution does not explicitly require the president to seek congressional approval to order U.S. troops into combat, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 limits the president's ability to initiate and engage in armed conflict without congressional authorization.

According to Newman, Reid and Pelosi said that "the president, as commander in chief ... anytime he uses our military against Iran, would have to receive permission from the Congress of the United States." After claiming he "called Congresswoman Pelosi's office" and "asked where in the Constitution it said that," Newman stated, "[I]t doesn't say it in the Constitution ... [i]n fact, it says exactly the opposite."

While Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to "declare war," it is true the Constitution does not explicitly state that the president must seek approval from Congress before ordering armed forces into conflict. However, the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (Public Law 93-148) explicitly requires congressional authorization of military force within 62 days of initial armed conflict, and mandates that the president consult with Congress before engaging in war, except in certain circumstances. In fact, the resolution states that "[t]he President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances." According to the resolution, the only circumstances permitting the president to use military force without first consulting Congress would be "(1) a declaration of war [which is the exclusive power of Congress], (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."

Furthermore, if a conflict initiated by the president is ongoing, the president would have to obtain congressional authorization of military force within 62 days after ordering troops into combat. The War Powers Resolution states its purpose as being "to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities."

Later in Newman's show, when a caller mentioned that due to "the War Powers Act ... by law now, the president ... if he starts hostility, he has to go to Congress within 60 days of initiating," Newman interrupted, "And report to Congress." But that is incorrect: According to the War Powers Resolution, the president can initiate armed conflict only in certain circumstances, after which the president must report to Congress within 48 hours of ordering armed forces into combat. Within 60 days after the president's report to Congress, Congress either would have to authorize war or officially extend the war authorization deadline; otherwise the conflict would violate U.S. law.

During the same broadcast, Newman also attacked Colorado Democratic U.S. Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall for supporting the U.S. House of Representatives' nonbinding resolution against Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. Newman asked his listeners, "Does the enemy's opinion -- which is the same as Udall's, the same as Salazar's -- does the enemy's opinion have any influence on your opinion? And should members of Congress be publicly stating they agree with the terrorists' point of view on this matter?"

From the February 15 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Gunny Bob Show:

NEWMAN: Now, I have a question for you. If you supported one of these characters from Colorado -- Mark Udall or John Salazar -- who have spoken out officially in speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives against our military -- if you voted for them now, are you pleased they are against supporting our military's request for support? The terrorists that we are fighting there want the House to vote for the anti-support resolution currently being debated. But I want to know from you. Does the enemy's opinion -- which is the same as Udall's, the same as Salazar's -- does the enemy's opinion have any influence on your opinion? And should members of Congress be publicly stating they agree with the terrorists' point of view on this matter?

[...]

NEWMAN: So I come back after four or five days without reading the news intentionally -- being down in Costa Rica -- and I see that -- that the -- the hate from the wild-eyed, intolerant left is even -- it's somehow ratcheted up even more. Now Nancy Pelosi -- Speaker of the House -- Harry Reid -- Senate Majority Leader -- are again today attacking the Constitution under Article II, saying that the president has no authority whatsoever to command the armed forces of the United States to attack Iranian terrorists inside Iran, even though those same Iranian terrorists are killing our soldiers. These two say that the president, as commander in chief, must still, anytime he uses our military against Iran, would have to receive permission from the Congress of the United States. Well, I called Congresswoman Pelosi's office in Washington and asked where in the Constitution it said that. No one could tell me. Do you know why? Because it doesn't say it in the Constitution, that's why. In fact, it says exactly the opposite. So I have a question for you: Is attacking the Constitution during time of war treason? Now, think about it: Is that really treason? Can Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi attack the constitutional powers of the president and therefore the Constitution itself, and get away with it? I don't know what your opinion is. I'm going to hear about it in a second when we go to the phones, but I don't think you could ever sell that to a court of law. 303-713-8585. Is it aiding and abetting the enemy? Sure it is. But can you sell it to a jury? I don't -- I don't see how you could. I'm just being honest. I don't see how you could sell it.

[...]

NEWMAN: Tonight we're talking about why and how our country attacks and cripples itself in this thing we're calling the war on terror. I truly believe that we are our own worst enemy in this. We are -- and this is how we are our own worst enemy. People -- certain politicians in this nation, and those who support certain politicians, place politics above the security of this country. They place their own personal hatred and intolerance for those with differing opinions at the top of the pile, when in reality, what we should be doing is focusing on our national survival, and being mature and focused enough to realize that, hey, everything else is for naught unless we can survive this war. And this war on terror is going to be taking a long time. A long time. And we must be vigilant of fanatical politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who brazenly, right out in the open, attack the Constitution of the United States. Go right after it, saying that, hey, you know, that Constitution, that doesn't apply to the president of the United States when it comes to, say, Iran. Or people like John Murtha, who -- a retired Marine reserve colonel -- who says that he is going to personally stop our military, prevent our military from getting the reinforcements the military is requesting.

[...]

CALLER: On the Constitution -- OK now, it's kind of complicated. As you're -- as you've pointed out a lot, you know, Article II, Section 2 does give the commander -- I mean the president, he's commander in chief --

NEWMAN: Right.

CALLER: -- of the armed forces. Now, in Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the exclusive authority to declare war.

NEWMAN: That's right.

CALLER: And the founders wanted that because they didn't -- they feared, like, executive branch just openly declaring war and they wanted, you know, Congress to kind of control it. Now, since the starting of the Korean War, Congress quit declaring war. Instead, the president, you know, kind of claimed Article II, Section 2 or they got permission from Congress without declaring war the way that Bush did for Iraq.

NEWMAN: Well, not permission. You know, they received, like, a vote of confidence or an approval of it, but not permission. Because the Constitution does not require in any way, shape, or form constitutional authority to the president for deploying our armed forces.

CALLER: Well, I think it does, because, well --

NEWMAN: No. Go ahead and read it. It does not say anything about the president has to receive permission. It doesn't say anything about it.

CALLER: Well in Article I, Section 8 it gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war. But, see we -- we have --

NEWMAN: Yeah, declare war. That is not giving permission to the president. It's simply them with an official declaration. And as we've seen -- as you just pointed out, we haven't declared war since World War II.

CALLER: Quite right. Starting with Korea, we quit declaring war. But I think what the founders intended was that the wars should be declared. I mean, I think it was -- it's right for --

NEWMAN: No, our founders, I think, were pretty clear on that. I guess I'm going to disagree with you on this, [caller], because if our founders had wanted a declaration of war every time the military goes into battle that they would have simply put that in there.

CALLER: Well, it gave them exclusive power to declare war. I think what they intended is that presidents couldn't declare war without getting, you know, congressional approval.

NEWMAN: Oh, I -- yes, you're a hundred percent right on that. But the president hasn't declared war.

CALLER: Yeah, that's true, but I think the --

NEWMAN: He can't.

CALLER: Right. Right. Only Congress can. But I think that sort of -- well, it's sort of the compromise for the president then to go to Congress, but I'm not so sure the founders would approve of it. And, you know, in 1973 Congress passed the War Powers Act --

NEWMAN: Right.

CALLER: -- it says, you know, by law now, the president can -- if he starts hostility, he has to go to Congress within 60 days of initiating --

NEWMAN: And report to Congress.

CALLER: Yeah.

NEWMAN: That's right.

CALLER: And I think -- and --

NEWMAN: And the president has done that. As a matter of fact, he -- in this war, he went to Congress, reported to them before, and they took a vote and, you know, "Yeah, OK, you know, we're agreeing with our president." It was absolutely overwhelming, and sent it --

CALLER: Yeah, but --

NEWMAN: But now -- but now you see, the polls are different now. America is an undisciplined, unfocused society, and if they don't get immediately what they want, which is a quick war with low casualties, then the polls go the other way. And that's what is -- what we are seeing now. And I think it's -- thank you for your call. I think it's extraordinarily dangerous to run with the premise that wars must be fought on a popularity -- on the popular poll.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.