« PrejšnjaNaprej »
Mr. ZABLOCKI. I would hope not. The only purpose would be that both branches, the executive and the legislative, would live up to the provisions of the Constitution.
Mr. STEVENSOX. I think I have about exhausted my comments on that proposal, sir.
Mr. ZÁBLOCKI. Governor Thomson?
Jr. ZABLOCKI. At this point, I am reluctant to say we have to close this session. I want to thank you again, Mr. Stevenson, for your enlightened views. If you have any influence with the ABA, it would be appreciated if you can hurry the report so that we can have the benefit of their views, not in 1974 but as early as possible. We are very anxious to have the advice of constitutional lawyers and that of such prestigious organizations as the ABA. Though we may not always agree with their suggestions, nevertheless, I am sure the subcommittee would welcome them. I submit if we are going to wait until the fall of 1974, legislation will fall by the wayside. My own view is that we will go to conference in the 93d Congress. Something will be enacted which will be presented for the President's consideration. Hopefully we will have legislation which will be in keeping with our national interests and at the same time restate the intent of Congress to meet its obligations in this very troubled area of war powers.
Thank you again, Mr. Stevenson.
[Whereupon, at 10:55 a.m.. the subcommittee adjourned to reconvene subject to the call of the Chair.]
STATEMENT OF HON. BELLA S. ABZUG OF NEW YORK
* * *
Ms. Abzug. Mr. Chairman, it is strange that we have reached the point of extended debate over "war powers." It is strange, that is, if we are still a constitutional democracy; for the Constitution states without qualification that "the Congress shall have the power to declare war.” There is nothing anywhere in the Constitution that authorizes Presidential wars. Yet that is what we have had and are still enduring in Indochina. After the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Vietnam, the President continues to bomb Cambodia daily. He threatens to resume American bombing in North and South Vietnam also, despite the repeated demand of an overwhelming majority of Americans, that we get out of Southeast Asia and stay out.
It is strange that one man has such power. The Founding Fathers would never have believed it. They envisioned a system in which a vote meant something and was not just a parody of participation in making decisions. This President makes all the decisions, alone, often against the advice even of his own advisers—who then have to scurry around to find legal justification for what he has done. They can't find such justifications, but that doesn't stop Mr. Nixon from continuing to do as he pleases.
It is strange that the Congress seems powerless to stop him. We have the power: that, too, was provided in the Constitution. Congress has the ultimate power, the “power of the purse”—if we had the will, we could put a stop to this madness at once by cutting off all funds for present and future ventures in Indochina.
We could have the backing and the enthusiastic support of a vast majority of our constituents. No war in America's history has ever been so unpopular. The repeal of the Tonkin Gulf resolution repealed every vestige of authorization by Congress for Presidential wars-and essentially admitted error in having been tricked into passing the resolution in the first place. There is every evidence that prolonging or renewing this war will meet with tremendous resistance, not just from peace groups, but from moderates and conservatives as well.
Before the cease-fire agreement, the Senate twice passed measures to cut off funds, but the House, fearing that such action would endanger our troops and impede the President's peace efforts, refused to pass similar legislation. By this time, it is surely clear to all that, whether or not the President's peace efforts were sincere, they did not work. There is no peace in Southeast Asia; there is not even a cease-fire in Vietnam. Both sides go on shooting, each blaming the other. Undoubtedly, both sides do violate the cease-fire; but that is not a problem that can or should be settled by American bombs. If we are to avoid continued involvement, the Congress must take firm control of American intervention in the affairs of other nations.
I have introduced two bills that would have this effect in the Asian situation. H.R. 3578 would terminate all military and paramilitary assistance to the nations of Indochina. This specifically includes funding for military activities of such agencies as the CIA and AID, whose activities have often served as a covert substitute for a declaration of war. Political subversion and assassination in other lands should not be paid for by American taxpayers. Yet we have seen it happen, not only in Southeast Asia, but in South America and the Dominican Republic.
My second bill, H.R. 5821, would require congressional authorization for the reinvolvement of American forces in Indochina.
The problem I find with the other bills that have been introduced to cope with this situation is that congressional sanction would be applied for any armed intervention longer than 30 days. This last provision invalidates the whole concept. Within 30 days, as we have seen all over the globe, a well-supplied army can overthrow practically any government and substitute a more friendly one. This is precisely what the ITT and the U.S. Government planned in such countries as Chile. What point is there in allowing this to happen and then asking Congress to rubberstamp it? Is it conceivable that at such a point, Congress will cut off funds for our troops backing the new, "friendly' government? We have been caught in that trap for the last decade. We should have learned something from it.
The Congress should demand that unless the United States is attacked on our own soil the President must receive specific authorization prior to intervention in the affairs of other nations. We are now discovering that a great deal of intervention has been going on, without public accountability, in a number of countries. One might call it prewar intervention. U.S. dollars and military aid continue to prop up shaky regimes around the world. When they fall—as Cambodia's seems about to do—we find ourselves committed by Presidential decisions to war, by whatever name. This is clearly an uncontitutional exercise of war powers which the Congress can act to prevent before, not after, conflagrations occur.
Apart from pragmatic results, there is the basic necessity for establishing the principle of congressional authority. This country is traveling down a dangerous road in allowing more and more power to be concentrated in one man's hands. Can we name any country where this trend has not ended in dictatorship? What reason have we to believe that it will be different here? Before we leap to cite the safeguards of democracy, we should look to see just what is happening to those safeguards. Opponents of the present administration are not yet in jail in any great numbers, but they have certainly been silenced. Under threat of losing licenses, broadcast media have imposed an uneasy "self-censorship.” News reporters who will not disclose their sources are being jailed-which means that sources are drying up. "Executive privilege” is being used to cover—we know not what, for those close to the President are being protected from disclosing their role in the Watergate bugging and break-in. Impoundment of funds already appropriated for social services, is being used as a way to keep the poor from getting too knowledgeable in organizing. Mr. Nixon's proposed budget cuts would finish off all hope that moderateand low-income people can make it in this inflated economy. Only the rich will make it-and that too is characteristic of dictatorships.