Open Thread: Is Libya Intervention Undermining War Powers Flouting the Law?

During former President George W. Bush's time in office, he was regularly described as fascist, murderous, and a war criminal for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if people didn't support the wars, though, Bush obeyed the law and received congressional approval to be in the countries. President Barack Obama is the one acting above the law, having yet to seek approval for being at war with Libya and ignoring the War Powers Act, but the media remains absent on labeling him with the same names.

In a new piece in the Washington Times by commentator Jeffrey T. Kuhner, Obama is likened to a modern-day Caesar, acting above the Constitution and above the law.

Check out excerpts from the Washington Times piece after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.

As Kuhner explains, Obama is violating the War Powers Act by continuing to keep the U.S. involved in Libya without congressional approval.

Passed in 1973, the law clearly stipulates that the commander in chief can only deploy U.S. forces for 60 to 90 days without congressional approval. He must then receive authorization from Congress. If he does not, he is usurping legislative authority and expanding the prerogatives of the executive branch - concentrating power in his hands, especially the most important act of all: war. In short, by flagrantly transgressing the War Powers Act, Mr. Obama has sparked a constitutional crisis.

The Republican-controlled House has fought back, with Speaker John Boehner demanding that Obama explain why he allowed the 90-day deadline to come and go without seeking congressional approval for being in Libya. Boehner was dismissed by the administration, which defended the war as being led by NATO, not the U.S., and therefore not subject to the War Powers Act.

The flaw with Obama's argument is that the Libyan campaign could not exist without U.S. support.

Without U.S. drones, fighters, equipment, ammunition and missiles, NATO would not be able to sustain the no-fly zone or the relentless military campaign. Mr. Obama may pretend that our involvement is minimal or somehow not the equivalent of a full-scale war because of the lack of ground troops. But it is shameless propaganda. Col. Gadhafi and the Libyan army consider America to be at war, as do the civilians who suffer collateral damage from NATO’s missiles and bombs.

Obama has also had to repeatedly redefine the action in Libya to mold it into some sort of national strategic interest.

First, the administration claimed military intervention was necessary to save civilians from a potential Srebrenica-style massacre in Benghazi. When that was averted, Mr. Obama then argued that NATO bombing had to continue to prevent Col. Gadhafi from routing poorly organized rebel forces. Now the policy has evolved into overthrowing Libya’s police state.

Members of congress from both sides of the aisle are revolting against the president's actions as they seek to end the intervention in Libya, which Kuhner points to as the reason Obama refuses to seek their approval: Obama knows he won't get it.

Do you think Obama realizes his lack of congressional support to stay in Libya? Do you think Congress is working hard enough to demand that Obama follow the laws?

NB Staff
NB Staff