Letters To The Editor.

Failed politician Matt Fleming has a letter to the editor in the January 12, 2020 edition of the Florida Today. As is often the case with Fleming, the letter demonstrates a lack of understanding of many things, including the Constitution.

We’ll fisk the letter here.

POTUS should heed Constitution, too

Do you support going to war with Iran?

We didn’t think we are at war with Iran. In fact, we are sure we are not at war since there has been no declaration of war by the Congress.

We are, however, at war with terrorism and terrorists.

Soleimani was a terrorist. There is no mistaking that. The US, European allies, and the UN had all condemned Soleimani as a terrorist.

The reason for that is simple as Soleimani was responsible for many attacks on US military and civilian personnel, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 U.S. service members, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. Air Force personnel. In 2011, the Quds Force also plotted to bomb a restaurant in Washington, D.C., and kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. In addition, Soleimani directed the planting of roadside IED’s leading the deaths of another 600 Americans and the wounding of many more.

In that Fleming wrongly concludes that the US is “going to war with Iran,” he misses the key point that Soleimani was already at war with the US.

It’s a serious question that every American is grappling with in the fallout from President Donald Trump’s order to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Iran is not the same as Iraq, and this current crisis is yet another unforeseen consequence of toppling Saddam Hussein’s government 17 years ago.

Fleming wants to revisit the Iraq War and we are fine with that. If nothing else, one would think that Fleming would understand not only the reasons for the removal of Saddam Hussein’s government as laid out in the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq, but that Hussein had been gassing his own people in violation of every international treaty. In addition, the International Red Cross reported that prior to the war, the “Food for Oil” program, which was designed to bring food to the Iraqi people, was bastardized by Hussein and was causing the deaths of an estimated 5,000 woman and children every month in Iraq.

It is odd to us that people like Fleming have compassion and empathy for terrorists, but not innocent women and children.

It is odd to us that Fleming never mentions the men and woman that Soleimani has killed, and was planning to kill.

It is odd that Fleming appears to mourn or support a terrorist rather than protect American lives.

Going to war with Iran is a decision that — like Iraq — will have far-reaching consequences.

Once again, we are not at war with Iraq, but facts don’t ever seem to matter to Fleming.

He is, however, correct about the strike having far reaching effects.

As we noted the other day, protests in Iraq and Iran over their oppressive regimes area starting to take place. Many of the protests are based on the idea that the US supports the rights of people as evidenced by the strike against Soleimani by Trump.

People have blamed Trump for the shooting down of an Ukrainian airliner by Iran, (as if Trump actually pulled the trigger) but citizens in Iran are rising up protesting the government.

Reports coming from Iran via social media indicate protests that began earlier in the afternoon in the capital Tehran spread to several other cities.

Around 5:00 pm local time hundreds of students and others gathered in front of Tehran’s Amir Kabir and Sharif universities this January 11 to protest against the regime’s deception of the public about the Ukrainian airliner that the Revolutionary Guard shot down on Wednesday.

The rallies were called by students yesterday who said in their statements they were going to mourn the victims of the plane crash and light candles for them.

Among the victims of the plane crash there were 26 alumni of various Iranian universities.

Reports received around midnight local time indicated noisy protests continuing on Tehran University campus, with students chanting “Down with the dictator”.

Videos posted on the social media showed protesters chanting slogans such as “Liers, liers”, “So many years of crime, down with Supreme Leader, “Shame on Revolutionary Guard, Leave the country alone” and “Down with dictator”.

There are reports of tear gas being fired and security forces firing in the air. The state broadcaster reported protesters in Tehran tore up pictures of Qassem Soleimani who was killed January 3 by a U.S. drone in Iraq.

Although not new, athletes are leaving Iran including the only 2016 medal winner from Iran, Kimia Alizadeh. who won a bronze medal in Taekwondo. Alizadeh defected after posting a letter on Instagram where she described herself as “one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran.”

Also yesterday, university students refused to walk on the flags of Israel and the US in Tehran.

The medieval Mullah death cult routinely puts American and Israeli flags on the ground for people to walk on. (So do Palestinian terror groups.)

To refuse to walk on the American and Israeli flags is an act of defiance, and that’s just what protesters at Beheshti University of Tehran did en masse—they walked around enormous American and Israeli flags painted on a roadway. And when regime enforcers walked on the flags, the crowd jeered them.

One has to wonder why Fleming is supporting a terrorist, an oppressive regime, and a regime that violently and constantly oppresses women.

Maybe Fleming can give a reason as to why the US should allow plots and attacks against its citizens instead of attacking and or killing those who attack us.

This dangerous escalation took place at the behest of a president who has consistently alienated our military allies, and he did it without congressional approval. The framers of our Constitution were very clear in their intent to leave decisions about starting wars in the hands of Congress. President Donald Trump has made it clear that he has no regard for Congress and he has demonstrated repeatedly that he doesn’t care what the Constitution says.

Trump decided to eliminate Soleimani after intelligence came to light that Soleimani had 1) engineered the recent attack on the US embassy in Baghdad 2) had purchased sophisticated weapon systems and 3) was planning to use the weapons against Americans.

The Congress recognizes that the President has the right to attack terrorists, terrorist organizations and countries that support terrorism. As stated in the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq

Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to take action in order to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States, as Congress recognized in the joint resolution on Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40);


But by repeatedly describing an Iranian plot against U.S. personnel as “imminent,” the administration is making a potentially more persuasive argument: Its move against Soleimani was an act of self-defense, not aggression.

In both domestic and international law, that is an important distinction, and the idea of an imminent threat adds weight to it. “Imminence is relevant legally mainly as a way of constructing an argument of anticipatory self-defense,” said David Bosco, a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.

Article II of the Constitution names the president as the commander in chief of the United States; it is generally accepted that this grants him or her the unilateral power to “repel sudden attack.” The Charter of the United Nations says there is an “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs.”

The right to self-defense is widely understood to extend beyond attacks that have already occurred. “It is well-established that countries can respond preemptively if there is an imminent attack that gives little other option,” Bosco said.

However, it may not mean that the United States had evidence of a specific upcoming plot. The U.S. government generally takes a broad view of what imminent may mean. Though the Trump administration has been accused of taking a lax view of legal requirements, this broad definition predates it.

In an April 2016 speech that sought to explain the legal justification for the U.S. involvement in war against the Islamic State militant group, State Department legal adviser Brian Egan argued that there didn’t even need to be specific information about a threat for it to be considered imminent.

“The absence of specific evidence of where an attack will take place or of the precise nature of an attack does not preclude a conclusion that an armed attack is imminent for purposes of the exercise of the right of self-defense,” Egan said.

A November 2012 speech by Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general in the Obama administration, justified the killing of members of al-Qaeda by suggesting that the group’s past violence showed it could pose a continued threat.

“The Constitution does not require the president to delay action until some theoretical end stage of planning — when the precise time, place and manner of an attack become clear,” Holder said. (emphasis ours)

However, if one drone attack means we are at “war” as Fleming claims, we don’t remember any Congressional declaration of war with Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen:

There were ten times more air strikes in the covert war on terror during President Barack Obama’s presidency than under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama embraced the US drone programme, overseeing more strikes in his first year than Bush carried out during his entire presidency. A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries, according to reports logged by the Bureau.

We don’t remember Fleming or many people screaming about Obama’s actions which means Fleming’s arguments are based on his hatred of Trump, rather than the Constitution, or any logical consistent legal argument he could put forth.

“Article 2 says I can do whatever I want,” and, “You people and this phony emoluments clause” are words spoken publicly by him. The Constitution isn’t phony, and it definitely doesn’t say that the American president can do whatever they want.

We won’t defend the use of “Article 2 says I can do whatever I want,” as Trump has used the line in varying contexts, none of which Fleming chooses to cite. However, in referring to the “phoney emoluments clause,” he has always claimed that the charges against him based on the emoluments clause are false.

The emoluments clause is found in Article I of the Constitution.

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Critics offer the clause means that trumps businesses (all of which are in trust while he is in office) cannot do business with foreign countries or cannot do business with other businesses. No court has ever held that belief nor should they. There is a difference between legal business transactions and services and using one’s position for financial gain.

If a company or country wants to stay at a Trump property, that is their right and should not be controlled by the government. In fact, in the early days of the country, Presidents were not required to put their holdings into a trust and some elected to have two desks in Presidential office – one for the business of the country and one for their own private businesses.

Trump appears to be walking back a little on some of this as his inflammatory statements are now including overtures for diplomacy.

In other words, Trump’s signal that terrorists and state sponsored terrorism is driving people and countries to the negotiating table. Somehow in Fleming’s eyes that is a bad thing.

Trump’s decision to take out a threat to the US and someone who had killed Americans is a different decision that than of Obama, who is 2015 warned Iran that the Israelis had an ongoing operation to kill Soleimani. That decision caused the deaths of more innocent people in the world, but somehow Fleming seems comfortable with the deaths of those innocents.

Whether you support or oppose going to war with Iran, I think a more important question is: Are we going to let Donald Trump make that decision for us?

Matt Fleming, Satellite Beach

This is pure political rhetoric from Fleming.

First, we are not at war with Iran.

Secondly, the President, under both the War Powers Act and the Constitution can take limited actions to protect citizens of the US and US interests.

Third, we have to wonder why a liberal such as Fleming appears to be more concerned with keeping terrorists alive than he is with protecting US citizens, protecting children, protecting women and applauding when there is pressure put on regimes by citizens of those countries who now look at the US and see a president that won’t side with the “bad guys.”

It seems Fleming is more concerned about “party” than country, laws and the Constitution.

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