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by John Glaser
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that legal advisers to President Obama have warned him since the beginning that aiding the Syrian rebels probably violated international law and risked a direct conflict with the Assad regime.
Two things are important here. First, this is a case in point for anyone who wonders whether the federal government is guided by the rule of law or operates on the basis of perceived interests. As can be consistently demonstrated throughout U.S. history, even if it’s illegal, the Executive Branch (which has usurped essentially all of the governments war-making powers) will still do it if they want to.
The second important thing to note is something I’ve argued before – namely that the government keeps secret those policies that would otherwise be subject to the law. As in the drone war, the administration knew very well that some judge could find what they’re doing to be criminal. Therefore, the administration classifies the program and blocks any attempt at judicial scrutiny on the basis of national security.