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It's been more than 60 days since the onset of American military involvement in Libya. Here's The Hill to tell us why that is important:
U.S. operations in Libya hit the 60-day mark Friday, but Congress has grown largely silent on the administration’s unilateral intervention into the war-torn North African nation.
The 1973 War Powers Act (WPA) — the statute President Obama invoked when he launched forces in March — requires presidents to secure congressional approval for military operations within 60 days, or withdraw forces within the next 30.
Congress did not authorize the mission — which includes a no-fly zone, bombing raids, a sea blockade and civilian-protection operations...
A few (not enough) members of Congress noticed the President was about to break the law:
On Thursday, six Senate Republicans wrote to Obama asking him if he intends to comply with the WPA.
“Friday is the final day of the statutory sixty-day period for you to terminate the use of the United States Armed Forces in Libya under the War Powers Resolution,” reads the letter, spearheaded by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “As recently as last week your administration indicated use of the United States Armed Forces will continue indefinitely.”
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) also endorsed the letter.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is another vocal critic of the Libya intervention. He has vowed to introduce legislation Monday invoking the War Powers Act in an effort to pull U.S. forces from the conflict.
Other Congressers say a Libyan resolution would not be approved by Congress, and others yet show complete disdain for the law:
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, warned earlier in the month, however, that such a resolution would likely be shot down in the Senate.
Others, including [Sen. Carl] Levin (D-Mich), simply think that formal congressional authorization for the Libyan intervention is unnecessary. Still, he left open the possibility that the upper chamber could eventually act on a Libya resolution — if “a number of legal questions” are ironed out.
I'd like to know who those "other" scofflaw Senators are who don't think Congress has to provide authorization for war, but Levin is notable. He voted against the Iraq War on the grounds that it was a unilateral action being taken by America, even though there were over 30 countries in the American coalition at the time. That number grew to 40 countries. Now Levin has done a complete turnaround, and believes the President can go to war without even AMERICAN approval. That's what I call unilateral action. Btw, there are 28 countries in the NATO coalition at war in Libya. That's less than Bush had for the Iraq War, which leads me to believe some of our Congress critters have a rather subjective view of the term "unilateral".
I have not heard a peep about the expiring Libyan War legality from our illustrious and unbiased mainstream media. I wonder if that would be true if President Bush were still in office ? Anybody who believes it would be true, please step forward and accept your Naivete 2011 Award. If Bush was still President, he'd be vilified.
At the last possible minute, on the 60th day of the Libyan war, Obama wrote a letter seeking congressional authorization:
Facing criticism from Congress that authority for U.S. military action in Libya is about to expire under the War Powers Act, President Obama asked congressional leaders late Friday for a resolution of support for continuing the military involvement.
"It has always been my view that it is better to take military action, even in limited actions such as this, with congressional engagement, consultation and support," Obama wrote in a letter to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. "Congressional action in support of the mission would underline the U.S. commitment to this remarkable international effort."
Um, no, it hasn't "always" been Obama's view that Congress should be supportive. At the beginning of the Libyan conflict, the Obama Administration didn't even try to involve Congress, and also said they had no intention of doing so. Congress was left out of the loop:
Lawmakers said they weren’t told much by Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that they couldn’t read in the newspaper or see on television.
They said one dynamic was very clear: The administration doesn’t much care what Congress thinks about the actions it’s taken so far.
Challenged on whether Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in attacking Libya without congressional approval, Clinton told lawmakers that White House lawyers were OK with it and that Obama has no plans to seek an endorsement from Congress, attendees told POLITICO.
And, as if to add insult to injury, news broke during the House briefing that Obama had already signed an order authorizing covert action in support of the rebels. When asked about it after the first briefing, House members were unaware the president had taken that action.
Also notice that Obama said in his letter that it was "better" to take military action with "congressional engagement, consultation and support". Sorry, Mr. President, but it isn't "better" to have the "support" of Congress when going to war, unless our country is under attack or imminent threat, neither of which is the case with Libya. It is mandated by the Constitution that Congress authorize war. The Constitution isn't optional. Even the portion of the War Powers Act that gives the President blanket power to engage in war for 60 days before obtaining congressional authorization could be successfully challenged as being unconstitutional in court. Obama is acting like he's the King Of America, who can decree whatever he wishes. That's not how it's supposed to work.
There was no way for Congress to respond to Obama's last minute request for Congressional authorization. The House wasn't even in session last week.
Obama is trying to cover his rear, but the Libyan War is now illegal by any standard.