So says our Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs:
The Obama administration and Defense Secretary Panetta are contending that when offensive military action is needed, it does not have to go to Congress first for permission but that international agreements, the UN or NATO can override Congressional acts of authorization of war or use of force.
At a hearing that was held in Washington on March 7, 2012, Sen. Sessions of the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned not only Defense Secretary Leon Panetta but also of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey about offensive military action and the permissions that are needed.
Both Panetta and General Dempsey indicated that “international permission,” rather than Congressional approval, provided a ‘legal basis’ for military action by the United States.
In other words, they explained that they didn’t need permission by the Congress and can pursue offensive military action without Congress’ involvement and that the UN would dictate when and how the hostilities would occur, therefore bypassing the War Powers Act.
Nevermind the Constitution, which as a War Powers Clause that specifically invests the power to make war with Congress:
[Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 11
That’s Congress and not the Executive branch–even though presidents have been running roughshod over this Constitutional requirement for our last several wars–and certainly not international agencies!