Senate gives blessing to Obama for military intervention in Libya

In Washington, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has finally authorized American involvement in the military mission – something President Obama was strongly pushing for.

­The vote was 14 to 5 in the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. The resolution gives approval for US warplanes and unmanned drones to continue limited strikes for up to one year, but forbids the deployment of ground troops.

At the Tuesday hearing, a top US State Department lawyer Harold Koh told a Senate panel, which was divided over Obama's authority to commit US military resources to the conflict, that the US president was acting within the law in ordering military attacks against Libya. He insisted that the commander-in-chief did not require congressional authorization for his actions.

"This administration is acting lawfully, consistent with both the letter and the spirit of the constitution and the War Powers Resolution," Koh told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as quoted by AP.

At the same time, Koh faced both Republicans and Democrats who challenged his stance that air strikes and drone attacks on Gaddafi's forces did not qualify as military intervention.

"We are contributing 70 per cent of the coalition's intelligence capabilities and the majority of its refuelling assets. The fact that we are leaving most of the shooting to other countries does not mean the United States is not involved in acts of war," AP quoted a top Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana as saying.

Just days ago, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted down a measure to carry on military action in Libya. This had no immediate effect on the campaign, but represented a symbolic falling-out between congress and the president.