On Monday, the White House proclaimed that President Obama could use military action virtually anywhere at any time without prior Congressional approval. White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler – the same woman supposedly behind the failure of the White House to release a Benghazi timeline – said that any strike undertaken by the White House against Syria would be legal both domestically and internationally. Thanks to “important national interests,” she told The New York Times, Obama could act unilaterally. Attacking Syria, she added, “may not fit under a traditionally recognized legal basis under international law,” but it would still be “justified and legitimate.”
So why did Obama go to Congress? Ruemmler explained, “The president believed that it was important to enhance the legitimacy of any action that would be taken by the executive to seek Congressional approval of that action and have it be seen, again as a matter of legitimacy both domestically and internationally, that there was a unified American response to the horrendous violation of the international norm against chemical weapons use.”
The White House is clearly backtracking from its position last week that President Obama went to Congress in order to grant greater legitimacy to any strike. White House press secretary Jay Carney now says that a strike would be a “legitimate response.” But Carney also declared a sort of early victory, stating that the entire convoluted discussion had somehow prompted “pressure” on Assad.