As events led up to President Trump ordering an airstrike on Syria over a chemical attack on civilians, CNSNews.com took a weirdly passive-aggressive approach to expressing its opposition to it.
First up was an April 11 column by editor in chief Terry Jeffrey headlined "An Attack Syria Did Not Do." This actually wasn't about the chemical attack --mentioned only obliquely in the final paragraph, in which Jeffrey warns "Look before you shoot" -- but, rather, the 1991 bombing of a passenger jet that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which Syria was originally a suspect until it was determined that Libya did it. Jeffrey lectured in a bit of revisionist history:
In response to the attack on Pan Am 103 — an indisputable act of war against the United States — Congress would have been justified in authorizing the use of force to overthrow the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Instead, the U.S. worked to isolate Gadhafi and encircle him with sanctions.
After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Gadhafi gave up his weapons of mass destruction programs, paid reparations to the families of Pan Am 103 victims, restored normal relations with the United States and recognized we had a common enemy in al-Qaida.
Then President Obama used military force — not authorized by Congress — to help rebels overthrow Gadhafi.
After Gadhafi fell, the Islamic State established a foothold in Libya.
That's an misleadingly simplistic view of what happened in Libya after 9/11. Gadhafi was trying to end Libya's isolation well before the Iraq war. Further, Libya was already in the midst of a civil war in 2011 by the time NATO, with the support of the U.S. -- not Obama himself, as Jeffrey falsely claims -- led a bombing campaign leading to Gadhafi's overthrow. Despite resuming "normal relations with the United States," Jeffrey also fails to mention that Gadhafi was still a repressive dictator. (Obama has admitted that not planning for the aftermath of Gadhafi's overthrow was the worst mistake of his presidency.)
That was followed with an column that day with a byline from another dead guy -- this time founding father James Madison warning that presidents need congressional approval for foreign military intervention that's not in response to a "sudden attack."
AFter the bombing attack started, CNS quickly published an article credited only to "CNSNews.com Staff" complaining that "President Donald Trump announced tonight that he had ordered the U.S. military to launch what he called “precision strikes” in Syria in coordination with British and French forces—but without authorization of the U.S. Congress."
Then -- as if it suddenly remembered its mission was to be a Trump sycophant and not to question his decision-making -- CNS shifted into its usual rah-rah stenography mode:
- Trump: 'Mission Accomplished!'
- Mattis: ‘These Strikes Are Directed at the Syrian Regime’
- Contrary to Russian and Syrian Claims, US and Allies Say No Missiles Were Intercepted
None of these articles reference CNS' earlier concern about Trump acting without congressional authorization.
Jeffrey did return to shade-throwing in a more explicit form in his April 18 column, highlighting a 2013 tweet from Trump that "The President must get congressional approval before attacking Syria," adding: "President Trump did not seek and did not get that authority from Congress before he launched a "limited war" on Syria. To quote him, he made a 'big mistake.'"