Congressmen questioned the rationale behind the U.S. intervention in Libya today. Congressmen from both sides of the isle are either openly criticizing the president, or quietly questioning Obama’s motives.
The U.S. began firing over 100 Tomahawk missiles from American warships against Libyan government forces on March 19th. Two days shy of 90 days. Under the terms of the War Powers Acts of 1973 that requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action, but forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war.
So which will it be, Obama: A declaration of war, or an official snub to the War Powers Act of 1973? Emphasis should be made that President Nixon vetoed this act in 1973, but was subsequently passed with a two thirds vote by Congress. Who would know better than a constitutional law professor, right? President Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.
“Our view is even in the absence of the authorization we are operating consistent with the resolution,” said White House Counsel Bob Bauer. “We are now in a position where we are operating in a support role. We are not engaged in any of the activities that typically over the years in War Powers analysis has considered to constitute hostilities within the meaning of statute.”
A hearing has been tentatively set for June 28th at the request of Senate Relations Committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN). The letter, sent to the committee chairman Senator John Kerry (D-MA), is requesting the State Department’s top lawyer, Harold Koh, to testify.
Lugar released a statement today that read: “The Administration’s position is both legally dubious and unwise. The United States is playing a central and indispensible role in military operations that have no end in sight. The Administration estimates that the cost of these operations will exceed $1 billion by September. Military operations of this significance, with far reaching consequences on our military, security and relations with other nations, require the clear support of the American people. For this reason, our Constitution provides that powers related to the use of military force are shared between the President and Congress.”
The irony of the entire debacle is that Obama has bi-partisan congressional support needed to continue with the conflict in Libya, but without a clear and open strategy, a revolt has been sparked against Obama and his advisors. It appears very simple; all Obama needs to do is talk to Congress. Let them know what his short and long-term goals are for Libya. Stone-walling has only created resentment. Because of Obama’s unwillingness to talk, House Speaker John Boehner has threatened to defund the conflict.
“The House has options; we’re looking at those options. Congress has the power of the purse, and certainly that is an option as well,” said Boehner.
Why can’t NATO and the European’s take care of removing Qaddafi on their own?