How long will Congress remain a bystander regarding war? – Orange County Register

WASHINGTON – The first use of nuclear weapons occurred Aug. 6, 1945. The second occurred three days later. That there has not been a third is testimony to the skill and sobriety of 12 presidents and many other people, here and abroad. Today, however, North Korea’s nuclear bellicosity coincides with the incontinent tweeting, rhetorical taunts and other evidence of the frivolity and instability of the 13th president of the nuclear era. His almost daily descents from the previous day’s unprecedentedly bad behavior are prompting urgent thinking about the constitutional allocation of war responsibilities, and especially about authority to use U.S. nuclear weapons.

Last month, for the first time in 41 years, a congressional hearing examined the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 that gives presidents sole authority. There was serious discussion of whether a particular presidential order for their use might not be “legal” – necessary, proportionate. But even if, in a crisis, time permits consulting lawyers, compliant ones will be found: President Obama’s argued that the thousands of air strikes that killed thousands and demolished Libya’s regime did not constitute “hostilities.”

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