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Obama Administration Illegally Wages War on Libya

Author C. Sanders. Published on June 19, 2011 - 12:26 am (931 views — 482 words)

"President Obama is in direct violation of the War Powers Act and has now ignored the advice of his own lawyers. He is waging an illegal war in Libya. I'm proud of the bipartisan group of legislators suing the administration" -Josh Mesker (Conservative Libertarian, Facebook.)

That's interesting, considering Obama himself once stated while a canidate in December of 2007, "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."

He also stated "No more ignoring the law when it's inconvenient. That is not who we are... We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers" on August 1st, 2007.

When President Obama ordered the U.S. military to wage war in Libya without Congressional approval (even though, to use his words, it did "not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation"), the Obama administration and its defenders claimed he had legal authority to do so for two reasons:

1) The War Powers Resolution of 1973 (WPR) authorizes the President to wage war for 60 days without Congress.

2) The "time-limited, well defined and disrete" nature of the mission meant that it was not really a "war" under the Constitution (Deupty NSA Adviser Ben Rhodes and the Obama OLC).

From the start, the WPR provided no such authority. Section 1541(c) explicitly states that the war-making rights conferred by the statute apply only to "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." That's what Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman, in an article on Foreign Policy entitled "Obama's Unconstitutional War" wrote when the war started. "The War Powers Resolution doesn't authorize a single day of Libyan bombing" and that "in taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama's administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency."

The growing controversy over President Obama's illegal waging of war in Libya got much bigger last night with Charlie Savage's New York Times scoop.

He reveals that top administration lawyers, Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson all told Obama that his latest, widely panned excuse for waging war without Congressional approval was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days.

But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions: his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department "legal adviser" Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.

As Savage notes, it is, in particular, "extraordinarily rare" for a President "to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice."