Mandeville, LA -This Clip of The Day was originally aired and published on Sep 13,2012 and is part of the Founders Pass Flashback Collection.
Exclusive Audio and Transcript - I was up very late last night looking this up because I knew it was going to come up today. One of you clowns is about to call me and bring up the Barbary pirates and how Thomas Jefferson bombed them back into the stone ages, settled Tripoli for democracy and instituted a constitutional order in Libya back in 1803. Well, I have the actual story as it happened. I have it from my good friend Tom Woods who posted this about a year and a half ago, “Presidential War Powers: The Constitutional Answer” under the headline “Jefferson acted unilaterally against the Barbary pirates.” Check out today's audio and transcript for more...
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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: By the way, I went to the trouble last night -- I was up very late last night looking this up because I knew it was going to come up today. One of you clowns is about to call me and bring up the Barbary pirates and how Thomas Jefferson bombed them back into the stone ages, settled Tripoli for democracy and instituted a constitutional order in Libya back in 1803. Well, I have the actual story as it happened. I have it from my good friend Tom Woods who posted this about a year and a half ago, “Presidential War Powers: The Constitutional Answer” under the headline “Jefferson acted unilaterally against the Barbary pirates.”
You people are going to be calling Sean Hannity and the rest of the talk radio hosts today, and many of you are going to be talking about the wonders of Jefferson and how he bombed the Barbary pirates without congressional authorization. These people in Libya are pirates, basically, or Egypt, and we need to get over there, send the Marines in there and start doing some bombing, start doing some whacking, just like Jefferson did. Well, you’re wrong. Your facts are incorrect. Here’s what Woods writes -- by the way, I’ve seen the source documents on what Tom Woods wrote here, so this is correct.
Another incident frequently cited on behalf of a general presidential power to deploy American forces and commence hostilities involves Jefferson’s policy toward the Barbary states, which demanded protection money from governments whose ships sailed the Mediterranean. Congressional naval legislation had provided that, among other things, six frigates “shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct.” (Final authorization for the funding of the last three of these ships was approved only in late 1798, so the frigates in question were ready for action immediately prior to Jefferson’s accession to office.) It was to this instruction and authority that Jefferson appealed when he ordered American ships to the Mediterranean. In the event of a declaration of war on the United States by the Barbary powers, these ships were to “protect our commerce and chastise their insolence – by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them.”
In late 1801, the pasha of Tripoli did declare war on the U.S. Jefferson sent a small force to the area to protect American ships and citizens against potential aggression, but insisted that he was “unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense”; Congress alone could authorize “measures of offense also.” Thus Jefferson told Congress: “I communicate [to you] all material information on this subject, that in the exercise of this important function confided by the Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.”
Jefferson consistently deferred to Congress in his dealings with the Barbary pirates. “Recent studies by the Justice Department and statements made during congressional debate,” Louis Fisher writes, “imply that Jefferson took military measures against the Barbary powers without seeking the approval or authority of Congress. In fact, in at least ten statutes, Congress explicitly authorized military action by Presidents Jefferson and Madison. Congress passed legislation in 1802 to authorize the President to equip armed vessels to protect commerce and seamen in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and adjoining seas. The statute authorized American ships to seize vessels belonging to the Bey of Tripoli, with the captured property distributed to those who brought the vessels into port. Additional legislation in 1804 gave explicit support for ‘warlike operations against the regency of Tripoli, or any other of the Barbary powers.’”
Consider also Jefferson’s statement to Congress in late 1805 regarding a boundary dispute with Spain over Louisiana and Florida. According to Jefferson, Spain appeared to have an “intention to advance on our possessions until they shall be repressed by an opposing force. Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force . . . But the course to be pursued will require the command of means which it belongs to Congress exclusively to yield or to deny. To them I communicate every fact material for their information and the documents necessary to enable them to judge for themselves. To their wisdom, then, I look for the course I am to pursue, and will pursue with sincere zeal that which they shall approve.”
Mike: In other words, this is absolute -- I want to say the word. It is absolute and nothing more than absolute bulls**t that you have been fed that Jefferson invaded Tripoli, established democracy and unilaterally decided to act. He didn’t. That is not part of the historical record. Not only did he not do it, at every step of the way, in written form, he documented why he was prohibited from doing it. So all of you little tin-horn wannabe brown people bombers out there that so desperately want to start another war and want to rain mortar shells down upon Libya and Egypt and what have you, call your member of Congress and tell them to get busy bombing. It is their authority that Obama must have.
It is the fact that he did not have their authority when he did bomb people and did assist in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak, more so with Gaddafi, that finds us in this situation today. It’s because he ignored Jefferson and he ignored the Constitution. The Constitution would have prevented what Obama did and it would have made the Congress complicit in it. No way that Congress would have been complicit in that. It would never have gotten a majority of approval. If it did, then that would mean that you and me are complicit in it. So, ladies and gentlemen, an opportunity for Governor Romney was there, but it was not to gin up the war machine. It was to do the opposite. If the war machine must be ignited and set ablaze, then you must set ablaze under the Congress.
End Mike Church Show Transcript