Entries in Legal (1)


War Powers Showdown Heats Up over Libya

Senator Richard Luger (R-Ind). United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military operations in Libya are legal, the Obama administration insisted Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Several senators disagreed.

"This administration is acting lawfully, consistent with both the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. Contrary to what some have claimed, we are not asserting sweeping constitutional power to bypass Congress," Harold Koh, the State Department's legal adviser, told the committee.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking member on the committee, challenged that conclusion.

"In this case, President Obama made a deliberate decision not to seek a congressional authorization of his action either before it commenced or during the last three months. This was a fundamental failure of leadership that placed expedience above constitutional responsibility," he said.

The War Powers Resolution would require the president to seek congressional authorization for military operations lasting more than 60 days.

Koh was one of the administration lawyers who argued that U.S. participation in the three-month-old NATO-led mission is limited enough that it does not constitute hostilities as described in the War Powers Resolution, and therefore would not require congressional authorization. That position was ultimately adopted by President Obama after a debate with lawyers in the Pentagon who disagreed.

Koh argued Tuesday that forcing the U.S. to end its participation in Libya would send a bad message to NATO allies and could encourage Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step up attacks on civilians.

The House of Representatives already sent a message to Obama last Friday when it voted down a measure that would authorize U.S. operations in Libya. A separate vote to cut off funding also failed.

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