ACTION ALERT: Libya -- How We End the War
May 26, 2011
Hon. Dennis J. Kucinich / US House of Representatives & Charlie Savage / The New York Times
Lawmakers from both parties have accused President Obama of violating the US Constitution and the War Powers Resolution by continuing American participation in NATO's air war in Libya without Congressional authorization. If the President won't follow the Constitution and if he won't follow the War Powers Act, Congress will have to defund his intervention or take formal action to demand the President remove the troops.
"It's time for Congress to step forward. It's time to stop shredding the US Constitution in a presumed effort to bring democracy and constitutional rule of law to Libya."
-- Representative Brad Sherman (Democrat of California)
"The president is not a king, and he shouldn't act like a king."
-- Representative Dan Burton (Republican of Indiana)
Libya -- How We End the War
Hon. Dennis J. Kucinich / US House of Representatives
Flashback to the campaign trail -- December 20, 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."
That wasn't me. It was candidate Barack Obama. But now in Libya, President Obama is continuing a war that lacks Congressional approval and constitutional authority. Our Constitution clearly states that the United States Congress has the power to declare war. The President does not. And the War Powers Act requires him to seek Congressional approval within 60 days of conflict. That was last Friday. We've heard nothing.
If the President won't follow the Constitution and if he won't follow the War Powers Act, Congress will have to defund his intervention or take formal action to demand the President remove the troops.
I've also issued a petition that I'm asking citizens to sign to help put pressure on both parties in Congress to take this action:
Click here to sign the petition, then ask your friends and family to join you.
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 Qaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize US action, but US planes may drop US bombs and US 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%), the President wants to depict this as NATO's action.
You decide which country has the ability to stop this war.
The American people have had enough of war creating more enemies abroad while killing our domestic agenda here at home. Our nation simply cannot afford another war, economically, diplomatically or spiritually. Congress must find its voice and the American people must call upon Congress to take the Administration off the war path.
Please sign our petition and pressure Congress to join me in taking action.
A PETITION TO END THE WAR IN LIBYA
We, the undersigned, call upon Congress and the President to bring an end to the War in Libya through a negotiated settlement which includes a verifiable ceasefire, the end of attacks by NATO, the United States and their allies, and the beginning of a political dialogue among all elements of Libyan society, leading to substantive democratic political reforms.
Libya Effort Is Called Violation of War Powers Act
Charlie Savage / The New York Times
WASHINGTON (May 25, 2011) -- Several lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday accused President Obama of violating the War Powers Resolution by continuing American participation in NATO's air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, but they struggled with the question of what Congress can or should do about it.
At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, several members attacked Mr. Obama for failing to withdraw United States military forces from conflict after the expiration of a 60-day deadline for hostilities that have not been approved by Congress. The Libyan operation reached that deadline, which was imposed by the war powers law of the Vietnam era, on Friday.
"The president is not a king, and he shouldn't act like a king," said Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana. 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.
"It's time for Congress to step forward," said Mr. Sherman. "It’s time to stop shredding the US 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.
The Obama administration has said it believes it is acting consistently with the resolution, although it has not explained why it thinks so.
Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution in 1973, overriding President Richard M. Nixon's veto, in an effort to restore its eroding role in deciding whether the country becomes involved in significant armed conflicts.
Since then, many presidents, citing their power as commander in chief, have bypassed a section that says they need prior Congressional authorization to deploy forces into hostilities, except if the country is under attack. But there is far less precedent of presidents' challenging another section that says they must terminate any still-unauthorized operations after 60 days. In 1980, the Justice Department concluded that the deadline was constitutional.
Among those critical of the administration's move, there was no clear consensus on how to react. Representative Chris Gibson, Republican of New York, proposed an overhaul of the war powers act that would prohibit presidents from using money to deploy the military into hostilities without prior permission from Congress, except in the case of an imminent attack on the United States or Israel or because of a treaty obligation. Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, proposed cutting off money for the Libya operation unless lawmakers authorized it.
Several other lawmakers spoke favorably of a proposal introduced this week by Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that would in effect end the debate by expressing legislative support for the Libyan operation.
Still others voiced uncertainty about whether Mr. Obama was exceeding his legal authority in Libya, noting that many presidents in recent generations have initiated hostilities without prior authorization, and that Congress had not stood up to them.
"There are no black-and-white answers here," said Representative Howard L. Berman of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee. He also suggested that whether the 60-day deadline had elapsed might turn on the details of the United States' current contribution to the NATO campaign.
"Could one argue that periodic drone strikes do not constitute introducing forces into hostilities since the strikes are infrequent" and "there are no boots on the ground?" Mr. Berman asked.
The Obama administration has described the American contribution as limited -- supporting NATO allies, along with the intermittent use of drones to fire missiles at ground targets. Still, speaking in London earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton portrayed the American contribution in robust terms.
"Even today, the United States continues to fly 25 percent of all sorties," Mrs. Clinton said. "We continue to provide the majority of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets."
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