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Monday, Apr 10, 2006, 1:01 pm

Will Bush Bother With Congressional Authorization To Launch His Nuclear War?

By Brian Zick

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Josh Marshall has a string of posts up (here, here, and here) addressing whether or not Bush will really for sure start a war in Iran.

Scott McClellan has called questions of Iran war planning "wild speculation" (without denying it's taking place).

He's likely referring to Sy Hersh's piece in the New Yorker, parts of which I quoted previously here.

Quotes such as “no formal briefings,” because “they’re reluctant to brief the minority." And "One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites."

With respect to the way that Bush/Cheney routinely operate - secretively, dishonestly, refusing to tolerate any dissent from their made-up minds - there is one particularly noteworthy bit, in Hersh's article, which I neglected to mention before:
“ ‘Force protection’ is the new buzzword,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the Pentagon’s position that clandestine activities that can be broadly classified as preparing the battlefield or protecting troops are military, not intelligence, operations, and are therefore not subject to congressional oversight.

Now, the choice of things like weaponry, equipment, vehicles and related materiel, and the tactical battle field decisions made for operations in specific situations, also happens - quite logically - to be a matter of professional military decision making - ordinarily an activity not to be micromanaged by civilian policy makers, beyond the initial congressional acquisition and budgeting process.

However, factor into the "not subject to congressional oversight" equation the tortured (so to speak) legal justifications for wartime Executive Branch powers and behavior, conceived by John Yoo and David Addington and Alberto Gonzalez. And apply Bush's self-appointed unconstrained war powers decision-making authority to the question of using weapons - tactical nuclear weapons.

I'm obliged to conclude that George Bush "believes" (or at least is ready to claim) he has authority to launch a "preemptive" nuclear war, entirely on his own initiative, as a matter of "military operations not subject to congressional oversight."

And I wonder what John Warner and Richard Lugar think about that.
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