Monday, August 02, 2010

Quote of the day

'A favorite "precedent" of defenders of presidential war is Jefferson's and Madison's "Barbary Wars." But Jefferson informed Congress in his first annual message that he had ordered only defensive action when Americans were attacked by Tripolitan pirates, since he was "unauthorized by the Constituion, without the sanction of Congress, to go out beyond the line of defense" (emphasis added). "The legislature will doubtless consider whether, by authorizing measures of offense also, they will place our force on an equal footing with that of our adversaries." Jefferson asked for - and got - a mere resolution, not a declaration of war, since the pirates were not a sovereign nation. In fact,as Louis Fisher points out, "Congress enacted ten statutes authorizing action by presidents Jefferson and Madison in the Barbary Wars." A parallel to the pirates would be the terrorists of moden times, whose acts are not those of a sovereign state.' - Garry Wills, Bomb Power

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