- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Wars, declared or not

To remind Americans that the United States is not at “war” in Iraq, the Republican Study Committee has updated the congressional document on U.S. declarations of war and congressionally authorized military engagements — now numbering 11 each.

Eleven separate times, the United States has formally declared war against foreign nations, declarations requested by presidents either in writing or in person before a joint session of Congress. Declared wars include:

• Great Britain — June 18, 1812

• Mexico — May 13, 1846

• Spain — April 25, 1898

• Germany — April 6, 1917

• Austria-Hungary — Dec. 7, 1917

• Japan — Dec. 8, 1941

• Germany — Dec. 11, 1941

• Italy — Dec. 11, 1941

• Bulgaria — June 5, 1942

• Hungary — June 5, 1942

• Romania — June 5, 1942

In addition, on 11 separate occasions, Congress has explicitly authorized U.S. troops to participate in extended military “engagements.” In some instances, action was prompted by attacks on U.S. interests. Engagements include:

The Naval War with France from 1798 to 1800; the First Barbary War (against Barbary pirates) from 1801 to 1805; the Second Barbary War (more pirates) in 1815; Africa (raids against slave traffic) from 1820 to 1823; Paraguay (to seek redress for an attack on a naval vessel) in 1859; Lebanon (to protect government against insurrection) in 1958; Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973; Lebanon (to restore the Lebanese government) in 1982; the Gulf war in 1991; “nations, organizations, or persons” linked to the September 11 terrorist attacks (authority used against Afghanistan) in 2001; and Iraq in 2003.

Unlikely allies

Stop the presses: the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Conservative Union are joining forces to educate the public about contentious provisions of the USA Patriot Act, while encouraging Congress to support bipartisan measures to restore privacy rights.

“The American principles of freedom and privacy are not limited to one political ideology,” explains Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “Two years after its passage, we now know that some provisions of the Patriot Act compromise too many of our fundamental liberties.”

All told, about 200 communities and three state legislatures have passed resolutions calling for adjustments to troubling sections of the post-September 11 act. Some want the act brought in line with “American traditions.”

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, the House already has adopted by an overwhelming majority an amendment prohibiting the implementation of so-called “sneak-and-peek” searches allowed under the act. Both chambers also are considering the bipartisan Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act of 2003, which would curtail broad surveillance and law enforcement powers.

Moment in the sun

We wrote about a transcript purportedly from New Hampshire Public Radio in which a campaign aide to Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, blamed New England’s first snowfall on global warming.

Now writes Jon Greenberg, executive editor of New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord.

“Just to clarify where that Lieberman anecdote originated, we and KUNI in Iowa set up a blog we call Primary Frontline Pen Pals — https://nhpr.org/blogs/penpals2004/ — that pairs five people in New Hampshire with five people in Iowa,” Mr. Greenberg says of the intriguing site.

“Most of our bloggers are average citizens and lean Democratic — the GOP primary not being much of a horse race. But to add some spice, we have two GOP strategist types. Our guy in New Hampshire is Brian McCabe, a veteran of the Dole campaign and others. He posted the item about Lieberman.

“The blog is not moderated,” Mr. Greenberg adds. “We trust our bloggers and that’s worked fine so far — three weeks into the project.”

The site’s introduction: “Welcome to the web log from the two states that have their moment in the political sun once every four years.”

Slice and fry

A reminder to readers that on Halloween Day, the 60th annual National Peanut Festival gets under way in Dothan, Ala.

After all, you the taxpayers are sponsoring the event.

Despite a $374 billion federal deficit for fiscal 2003 — projected to reach $480 billion next year — Rep. Terry Everett, an Alabama Republican born in Dothan, sliced $202,500 from the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act for the festival, which this year features a Spam-recipe contest.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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