Randy Forbes is Congressman for the 4th District of Virginia - which includes Norfolk, Little Creek, etc - an area in which I've spent a great deal of time on professional business. Watch him make short work of Defense Secretary Gates below.
Congressman Forbes: “Mr. Secretary, if tomorrow a foreign nation intentionally, for whatever reason, launched a Tomahawk missile or its equivalent into New York City, would that be considered an Act of War against the United States?”
Secretary Gates: “Probably so.”
Congressman Forbes: “Then I would assume the same laws would apply if we launched a Tomahawk missile at another nation — is that also true?”
Secretary Gates: “You’re getting into Constitutional Law here and I am no expert on it.”
Congressman Forbes: “Mr. Secretary, you’re the Secretary of Defense. You ought to be an expert on what’s an Act of War and what is not.”
The War Powers Act provides that the President may only legally authorize military action if there has been (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces.
Secretary Gates failed not once, but twice, to point to any of the three explicit provisions authorizing military action in Libya, despite admitting that the United States would consider it an act of war if a foreign nation similarly attacked an American city. Instead, the Secretary simply cited precedent. At a time when the whole world seems to be shaking, the rule of law is the only thing we have left to keep us standing.