In an effort to satisfy those arguing he needs to seek congressional authorization to continue US military activity in accordance with the War Powers Resolution, President Obama wrote a letter to congressional leaders this afternoon suggesting that the role is now so “limited” he does not need to seek congressional approval.
“Since April 4,” the president wrote, “U.S. participation has consisted of: (1) non-kinetic support to the NATO-led operation, including intelligence, logistical support, and search and rescue assistance; (2) aircraft that have assisted in the suppression and destruction of air defenses in support of the no-fly zone; and (3) since April 23, precision strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against a limited set of clearly defined targets in support of the NATO-led coalition’s efforts.”
From the beginning of the U.S. military intervention in Libya, the Obama administration has cited the 1973 War Powers Act as the legal basis of its ability to conduct military activities for 60 days without first seeking a declaration of war from Congress. The military intervention started on March 19; Congress was notified on March 21. Those 60 days expire today.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, said Monday that even though previous presidents had sidestepped Congress, Mr. Obama’s decision was still a “serious” abuse.
“It needs to be pointed out that what he is doing is outside the Constitution,” Kucinich said. “If he is relying on precedent, then he ought to say so. But he’s got to square that with his own understanding of the Constitution prior to becoming president.”
Candidate Barack Obama said to the Boston Globe in December of 2007 that “the president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Ever since the Korean War, presidents of both parties have ordered military action without Congressional authorization. It is time to end that practice.
Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, of course, posed an imminent threat to Libyan nationals engaged in the recent civil war in that nation. How did the Colonel or his army threaten Americans?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that Libya did not pose a threat to the United States before the U.S. began its military campaign against the North African country.
In Tunisia and then in Egypt, regimes were toppled by protests. Libya is convulsed not by protests but by war. Not a war of aggression, not a war with foreign armies violating national borders and thereby violating the basic tenets of international law, but a civil war.
With no imminent threat to the United States, the president has no legal right to launch strikes on a foreign country without authorization from the American people, through their elected representatives in Congress.
This nation should disengage its military forces from combat operations in the Libyan theater and discontinue supporting the military forces of other nations conducting operations there.