The Washington media and officials of the Clinton Administration, including the president and First Lady, were having a good time recently at the White House correspondents dinner. It’s easy to see why somebody like White House press secretary Joe Lockhart was having such a good time: he’s had the White House press corps eating out of his hand. And when the press asks too many questions or wants answers that are too specific, he simply changes the subject and the journalists follow along.
A good example is an exchange that took place on April 28th, with the House on the verge of voting not to authorize Clinton’s bombing of Yugoslavia. One reporter asked Lockhart if Clinton would ask for Congressional permission to send in ground troops. He responded that the president’s intention was not to send them into a “non-permissive environment” but that if ground troops were required, he would “seek their support.” Did this mean the approval of Congress? Lockhart responded, “It means that if we get down the road in some hypothetical… situation… he would seek their support.” Would he go ahead with the military action if he did not have the support of Congress? At that point, Lockhart said that was a hypothetical on top of a hypothetical, and he wasn’t going to answer it.
But it is not hypothetical that a law exists which regulates the president’s ability and authority to deploy our forces. Clinton came into violation of the War Powers Resolution when the House voted not to authorize the bombing campaign. A suit has now been filed by 17 members of Congress seeking to have the law enforced. But the major media have carefully obscured the role of this law in the war in Yugoslavia.
The Washington Post, for example, mentioned the law and the lawsuit in an article on page 12 that was devoted to analyzing what action would be taken in the U.S. Senate about the conduct of the war. But the House action had made the Senate action largely irrelevant. Even if the Senate had voted for Clinton’s conduct of the war, and had voted to expand his authority, it would not have canceled out the House refusal to support it.
The major media have failed to alert the American people to how Clinton is blatantly disregarding the will of Congress. Just two days after the House vote, the Post reported in a matter-of-fact manner that Clinton had issued an executive order imposing a U.S. trade embargo on Yugoslavia. This, too, is an act of war that the president cannot unilaterally impose. But this is not the first time Clinton had used an executive order to wage this war. Back on April 13th, he issued an executive order declaring Yugoslavia and the surrounding area a “combat zone.” He also used an executive order to call up the reserves.
Lawlessness by this president isn’t new. But in this case, we’re not just talking about his personal conduct. In fact, some legal experts say that violating the law and the Constitution in this case may constitute another impeachable offense.