Opposition and Lack Thereof
David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, May 25
Friday was the 60th day since Obama notified Congress that U.S. forces were joining in attacks on Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Under the War Powers Resolution, he was supposed to obtain Congress’s authorization by that point or stop the operation.http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lawmakers-question-whether-obama-is-adhering-to-war-powers-resolution-in-libya/2011/05/25/AGhkjMBH_story.html
He did neither. Instead, Obama sent a letter to Congress urging that it pass a resolution of support. The Senate is considering such a resolution, but it won’t be voted on until after the week-long Memorial Day recess.
Other NATO members are conducting most of the airstrikes in Libya, while U.S. forces are flying the bulk of the missions related to reconnaissance, surveillance and refueling. In all, American aircraft account for about a quarter of the roughly 150 missions flown each day by NATO forces.
David Dayen, Fire Dog Lake News
Today marks the 60th day of US operations in Libya. Under the War Powers resolution, this should trigger a Congressional authorization for the war. The idea that the President could unilaterally attack in Libya, a country that did not threaten the United States, is dubious in its own right. But the War Powers resolution is pretty clear that after the 60-day period, the executive must come to Congress.
Well, they’re not. But I would cast a wider blame here than my friend Glenn Greenwald. I agree that the Administration’s theories for why they don’t need Congressional authorization are specious. The idea that this is now a NATO mission and therefore has nothing to do with the United States is kind of nutty; we are NATO, after all. The Administration also said this wasn’t a war because it was “time-limited, well defined and discrete.” Well, we’re 60 days in with no end in sight, the mission has moved from protecting civilians to bombing the Gadhafi compound and Libyan ships in the port of Tripoli, and none of those above terms now apply to the conflict.
Mike Lillis and John T. Bennett, The Hill, May 20:
Congress did not authorize the mission — which includes a no-fly zone, bombing raids, a sea blockade and civilian-protection operations — but the deadline has stirred little sense of urgency on Capitol Hill.http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/162323-lawmakers-quiet-on-war-powers-authority-in-libya-
House lawmakers are in the midst of a weeklong recess. And the Senate, which stuck around, is also unlikely to address the issue this week, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Dick Lugar (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 Levin, 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.
Breaching the 60-day deadline sets a bad precedent for administrations to come, according to critics on and off of Capitol Hill, who are calling on Congress to push back against the president’s war-waging powers.
Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale University, said the Libya war is “a classic case of what could go wrong with executive war-making.”
“My concern is not this relatively small war,” Ackerman said in a phone interview. “This is going to be a precedent for the next president.”
The Critics in Congress
- Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan)
May 25: “The undeniable conclusion is that the president is breaking the law by continuing the unilateral offensive war against Libya,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a conservative freshman testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Amash has proposed a bill that would cut off funding for U.S. efforts in Libya until Obama obtains congressional authorization.http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lawmakers-question-whether-obama-is-adhering-to-war-powers-resolution-in-libya/2011/05/25/AGhkjMBH_story.html
“The tragedy, for our system of self-government, would be if Congress continued to do nothing,” he said.
- Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana):
May 25: “The president is not a king, and he shouldn’t act like a king."http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/world/middleeast/26powers.html
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey)
WASHINGTON, DC, May 25, 2011 - Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Constitution Caucus, today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 to clarify that the NDAA does not in any way authorize military action for the current conflict in Libya. Garrett’s amendment was adopted by a voice vote on the House floor.
“My amendment is simple and straightforward. It clarifies that the National Defense Authorization Act contains no language to provide for the authorization of combat in Libya and ensures that such an authorization must be considered as stand-alone legislation if we are to continue any military operations in Libya,” said Garrett. “President Obama contends that congressional authorization in Libya is not necessary because we are merely supporting NATO efforts. However, as mandated by the Constitution and pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, congressional authorization is required regardless of whether military action is supported by the NATO alliance or sanctioned by the United Nations.”
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-New York)
May 26: [Gibson] urged Congress Wednesday to reform the War Powers Act by tightening requirements that a president must seek legislative approval before sending forces into combat.http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Gibson-Libya-shows-need-to-curb-war-role-1396311.php
"If the President wants to act, he must come here," Gibson said. "There is enough authorization for the President to act to defend us, but beyond that, the President should have to wait until he comes to the American people by way of their representatives."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio)
While the White House spins its intervention as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Gaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. Although the United States by far pays the largest percentage of NATO's military bills (25 percent), the President wants to depict this as NATO's action.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-j-kucinich/flashback-to-the-campaign_b_866759.html
You decide which country has the ability to stop this war: The Guardian UK datablog just published information that shows that 93 percent of all cruise missiles used to attack Libya come from the US. A full 66 percent of personnel involved in the war against Libya come from the US. 50 percent of all war ships off the Libyan coast come from the U.S.
Fifty percent of all aircrafts used to attack Libya come from the U.S.. War from the air is still war. And whether the UN and NATO support our intervention is irrelevant -- the President still needs to follow our Constitution. And Congress must end this war.
I have said this clearly in the past, and I'll say it again: Violating the Constitution is an impeachable offense. Whether its President Bush or President Obama, it's that simple. That Congress will not attempt to impeach the President does not eliminate the considerable political consequences that his administration will bear over the coming months. Especially when it becomes fully understood that the war was not necessary and that both sides in Iraq [sic?] are prepared to move toward a peace agreement. (More about that later). In the meantime we must come together as a nation to end the war against Libya and stop the expansion of war in the region.
This war is not only unconstitutional; it's not in America's interest. Why would the Administration, during the current contentious debate over deficits and budget cutting plunge America into still another war, especially since America will spend trillions in total for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and incursions into Pakistan?
Senaor Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)
March 28: In 2007, then-candidate Obama said 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.”http://www.randpaul2010.com/2011/03/senator-rand-pauls-response-to-president-obamas-libya-address/
I agree with candidate Obama. Unfortunately, President Obama has failed to heed his own advice. He has ignored our constitution and engaged us in a military conflict without congressional debate and approval
What imminent threat did Gadhafi or Libya pose to the United States? Obviously, the decision to take military action of this magnitude is something that should not be taken lightly, and should first require determining whether it is in the United States’ vital national interest.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-CA
May 25: Representative Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, said the administration was treating lawmakers as “irrelevant” by failing to acknowledge that the deadline had passed or to explain itself.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/26/world/middleeast/26powers.html
“It’s time for Congress to step forward,” said Mr. Sherman. “It’s time to stop shredding the U.S. Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional rule of law to Libya.”
Still, he added that he thought Congress should probably approve continuing the Libyan operation.
She's no longer on capitol hill, but congressional alumnus Cynthia McKinney (Rep., D-South Carolina) has gone a couple thousand miles further than any of these in opposing the war (although Mr. Kucinich has shown some serious insight, by Washington standards). All the way to Tripoli!
"I think that it's very important that people understand what is happening here. And it's important that people all over the world see the truth. And that is why I am here ... to understand the truth," former Rep. Cynthia McKinney said during a live interview.
She said she was invited to Libya by the "nongovernmental organization for fact-finding," adding that she intends to bring more people to the country soon so that "they too can understand."