ATTACKING IRAN….In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, constitutional scholar Bruce Ackerman weighs in on whether the president can order air strikes against Iran:

FP: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has told her colleagues that if President Bush wants to take the country to war against Iran, the House of Representatives would take up a bill denying him the authority to do so. Does the House have the ability to do that?

BA: The president has to get another authorization for a war against Iran. It isn’t up to Nancy Pelosi or the House to prevent him; he doesn’t have the constitutional authority to just expand the war. He does not have the authority to unilaterally invade Iran….

FP: What about actions short of invasion: air strikes or hot pursuit?

BA: Air strikes would be an invasion. It’s an act of war of an unambiguous variety….On a major incursion into another large Middle Eastern country, I believe that, when push comes to shove, the president will once again request the explicit authorization of Congress. When he was contemplating the invasion of Iraq, he was in a much stronger position politically — and he was still obliged to request authorization. And the same thing would happen again.

I think that’s right. And I think Democrats better be prepared to figure out how they’re going to vote on such an authorization. It’s not as if they aren’t getting plenty of warning that it’s likely to cross their desks sometime in the near future.

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