Adapted from The Gaurdian
Trevor Timm, September 27 2014 (Emphasis mine)
1. Mr President, the White House sent a letter to Congress indicating that you believe the Iraq War Resolution gives you the legal authority to bomb Syria. How is this possible? Why has your administration yet to publicly release a detailed legal opinion? How is this new war legal?
2. Mr President, the New York Times reported that six weeks of air strikes in Iraq have failed to meaningfully push back Isis forces. Haaretz reported that Isis recruitment has been soaring in the wake of US air strikes, with 6,000 new recruits since they began. And the US-backed Free Syrian Army claims the strikes in Syria are already turning their allies and civilians against them. Are these air strikes are doing more harm than good?
3. Mr President, you said during your address to the nation two weeks ago that you were going to model the Isis campaign on what you called a “successful” effort in Yemen. But on Thursday, the State Department ordered some of its employees to evacuate the country because of increasing violence and deaths. Many people, including the president of Yemen, whom your counter-terrorism chief strongly supports, have warned of civil war. Do you still think “the Yemen model” can lead to success in Iraq and Syria?
4. Mr President, the Pentagon has refused for days to acknowledge that there have been civilian deaths in Syria from US air strikes despite credible reports, photos and videos to the contrary. Is this war being operated under the policy your administration reportedly operates under for drones strikes, that every military-age male killed is considered a militant unless proven otherwise? If “you can’t reduce [civilan deaths] to zero”, how many innocent people are American air strikes killing in Iraq and Syria right now?
5. Mr President, you have continually said that no combat troops will be deployed to Iraq or Syria, but the number of US “military advisers” headed into the country keeps increasing. The New York Times reported that your definition of “combat” has been “rejected by virtually every military expert” since “advisers” can be on the front lines, carry weapons and call in air strikes. Are the 1,600 “military advisers” already in Iraq actually “combat troops”?
6. Mr President, during the debate about whether to arm the Syrian rebels or not, which was actually public and involved Congressional approval, Secretary of State John Kerry refused to acknowledge to Congress that the CIA has already been training the rebels for over a year, though it’s been widely reported as true. Do you not think that secret is an important fact for public debate, especially given that multiple CIA officials have said that they don’t think arming the rebels worked – and that some of the weapons ended up in the hands of Isis? Why do you think this time will be different?
7. Mr President, your administration said earlier this week that the US military had to bomb the so-called Khorasan group to stop an “imminent” attack on the US. Two days later the New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti reported that “American officials said that the plot was far from mature, and that there was no indication that Khorasan had settled on a time or location for the attack – or even on the exact method of carrying out the plot.” The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reported that “it is unclear what Khorasan was planning, how far that planning advanced, and whether the US itself was a target.” Which is it – “imminent attack” by Khorasan that justified air strikes, or hyped up excuse to give the government legal cover for war in Syria?
8. Mr President, when you were running for president, you said, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” US intelligence agencies have said Isis does not pose an actual or imminent threat to the nation. Since you have not asked Congress for authorization to go to war, why is the war on Isis not unconstitutional?