Going to War Without Declaring War?

The "This Week" powerhouse roundtable debates Congressional authorization on striking ISIS in Syria.
4:42 | 09/28/14

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Transcript for Going to War Without Declaring War?
The roundtable is here now, Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, Matt Bai, national political columnist for Yahoo! News and author of the new book, "All the truth is out." Syndicated radio host laura Ingraham and ABC political analyst Matthew dowd. So congressman Ellison, let me start with you. Look, you have prominent voices in the democratic party and some prominent republicans saying there should be a vote. If it came to a vote, would it pass? It depends on what it would say. We're looking on a narrowly tailored sort of provision, something that is limited in time, space, something we have some control over so that it just doesn't go on and on and on but I think that the right provision would -- could pass. Would you yourself support authorizing military action in Syria and Iraq? Well, I did support the equip and train mission for the Syrian fsa, but, again, before I say what I would vote for, I want to see the language first, but I do think this, that they should -- the islamic state, whatever people want to call them, they're neither islamic or a state in my view, I think that they are a real threat and I think -- but I think the real question is, getting the politics right. Making sure that we stabilize Iraq by making sure that there's an inclusive government in Baghdad. These are the real questions. Cutting -- working with the Turks to make sure that the smuggling and the -- But -- -- Recruiting routes are closed off. These are the things that are really going to win the day. But on this issue of whether or not the president actually has the authority to do what he's doing, there's -- he's resting on the authorization that was passed right after the attacks on September 11th, and this authorization -- now, we have two lawyers at the table, laura and congressman Ellison, but this is very specifically tied to September 11th. It authorizes forces against those nations, organizations or persons he determined planned, authorized or committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th. How does this -- It doesn't. The congress adjourned earliest of any time in congressional history before an election. They recently adjourned, right? They didn't take a vote on this because just like immigration reform we have a lot of profiles in the opposite of courage on capitol hill. They don't want to be held accountable. Article 1, section 8 vests the power solely in congress, congressman, you know this to declare war. That's it and we can say, well, the president has the 2001/2002 -- the president said that Al Qaeda was decimated, right? The fact is it wasn't decimated. We have a new, changing threat to the United States. Congress should vote. We should have civilian authorization, civilian leadership authorization for this war, otherwise we're going to be in for real trouble down the road. That through. This debate is way long overdue and not really fundamentally about president this has been a debate that should have happened over the last 30 years. It should have happened with president bush. It should have happened with president Clinton related to bosnia and it should have happened with president Reagan and the previous president bush, the idea that we are going to war and never declaring war is I think abysmal. The fact we can put our troops in harm's way and lost 7,000 troops since 9/11, twice as many people we lost in 9/11 but still not willing to have a conversation, a discussion and a debate about whether or not we should declare war and pointing to the fact Martha was sitting on an aircraft carrier that's sitting in the sea that is more powerful than nearly every other country in the world, that one aircraft carrier and can't have this debate in congress. Matt Bai, let me ask you, though, you saw "The economist" cover this week that showed president Obama in a flight suit invoking, of course, the "Mission accomplished" moment for president bush. His speech at the U.N. Talking about a network of deaths sounding a lot like the axis of evil and, you know, I mean if you listen to his words, they sounded quite a bit like George bush. He said there can be no reasoning, no negotiation with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. Yeah, even the authorization he's claiming on this is basically an acceptance of the global war on terror that he had said basically doesn't exist when he campaigned. Look, in 2004 John Kerry said to me, I remember, we need to get a place where when he was running in the fall, we need to get to the place where terrorism is a part of our lives but it's a nuisance and Matthew made an ad about it, existential fact and there was an ad made about it. What we're finding there was a lot of truth ultimately that every president's going to have to deal with this as Matthew said, this is not a new issue. It will go on for decades and the question is, how we learn to maintain this as part of our foreign policy and keep our -- keep safety, it's not about whether you eliminate the group because when you eliminate one group, the next one pops up.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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