By my reading, under domestic law he must ask for a declaration of war within the first two days, and cannot continue beyond sixty days unless that declaration is made.
Of course, this assumes you’re speaking English and not weaselese, where “imminent” does not require imminence, “threat” does not require a threat and a bombing campaign does not count as “hostilities”.
For good or ill, our law on the subject appears to be that whatever the President gets away with is legal. Invade a sovereign nation because there are Cubans there, operating bulldozers (Reagan). Sure, why not? Wink and nod at the assassination of an inconvenient Asian President (Kennedy)? OK doke.
Precedent don’t mean squat. Nor does the Constitution. If Obama launches so much as a Nerf ball, there are members of Congress who have their impeachment speeches written, only need to fill in the blanks.
Unless viral internet evidence of Assad’s forces using kittens for hand grenades surfaces, there is no kind of win situation for Obama anywhere here. You gotta know that at least once today he thought about stepping up to the microphone and saying “They’re right, its all true, I was born in Kenya and trained by Al Queda. I’m handing Joe Biden the keys to the Oval Office and I’m outa here…”
In my view, Obama – or any President – has the legal right to order a missile strike. But again, my view comes from the belief that Congress can’t constrain the President by means of the War Powers Act. And every president has reported to Congress “consistent with” the Act as opposed to “in accordance with,” to signal their disagreement with the Act’s application.
But other folks who believe in the War Powers Act – what do they say?
By the way, Bricker, pursuant to your argument in post 12, is there any merit to the notion that the constitutional grant of war powers to the President applies only in the presence of a congressional declaration of war?
Is this an Iraq gotcha? Hint: the WPA is not why we opposed Bush’s invasion. As to international law, a missile strike would be illegal without a supporting resolution by an IGO that Syria is a member of.