By a seeming coincidence, the U.S. Congress was not in session when the latest big push to “do something” about Syria was launched. In the United States, Article One, Section Eight of our Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. But what happens when, by a seeming coincidence, some shocking incident is alleged during a time the Congress is not in session? In Britain, their Parliament is being quickly reconvened in reaction to alleged “red line” gas attacks in Syria. But who can reconvene the U.S. Congress now, before the end of Labor Day? President Barack Obama could, given the dire circumstances of a planned massive launch of U.S. missiles against the sovereign nation of Syria, at least ask the Congress to immediately reconvene. But President Obama has for now at least chosen not to do so, even though this Syrian situation is said to be a dire emergency calling for immediate action. So President Obama may have effectively prorogued the Congress.
I had a long telephone conversation with my late friend Sherman Skolnick (image at top, hopefully) back in the 1990s. A summary of our chat was published at my old Conspiracy Nation web site, under the heading “Sinister Consequences” (CN Vol. 6 Num. 91). My thanks to the “Beyond Weird” web site for republishing my summary. In “Sinister Consequences” Skolnick explains what it means to prorogue the Congress.
In our conversation of December 28th, 1995, Skolnick explained to me how “a big crisis coming regarding the budget” meant there was “a clash shaping up between the executive and legislative branches…”
A foreboding of this clash between Congress and the President had been seen in President Bill Clinton’s imperial enlargement of executive power when he had ordered troops to Bosnia without first seeking congressional approval. (The fig leaf used to cover the erect member Clinton was, “It’s O.K. These troops are ‘peacekeepers.’ It’s not ‘war’, it’s ‘peace.'”)
In my 1995 conversation with Skolnick, he reached back to the times of the Stuarts in 17th century England. At that time there was a clash between the king and the parliament which ultimately led to the beheading of Charles I. Charles used what was called the “prorogue” power to suspend the English legislative body. Civil war eventually ensued.
Skolnick wondered at the time whether Bill Clinton or any U.S. President might have a similar power to prorogue the Congress. In the case of President Obama and the seeming coincidence of a Syrian dire emergency, the Congress had prorogued itself by being out of session when an alleged full moon gas attack happened in Syria. But then Obama notably did not choose to quickly reconvene the Congress but opted instead to assume for himself what is possibly war powers. (What else, if not war, is the act of launching scores of missiles against a sovereign nation?)
And can President Obama go further, and postpone the reconvening of Congress after Labor Day? In 1995, Skolnick wondered, “Does [Bill] Clinton have the power to prorogue Congress? That is, to shut them down and not… that they can’t go back into session without his permission? Some experts on the Constitution in the U.S., some say I’m wrong. Some say I’m right. But I believe that there is a prorogue power.”