Congress angered by Obama’s war in Libya
21 Mar, 2011 15:01
As the US President wages war in Libya, Congress feels left out and uninformed. Angry with Obama many are questioning the legality of the unilateral action by the Executive Branch of the US government.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “Before any further military commitments are made the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission.”While Boehner supported a no-fly zone over Libya, he expressed concern for the lack of communication between Obama and the legislature. “The focus is on Congressional consultation,” explained a Boehner aide. While Obama is not obligated legally to receive approval for military action by the Congress, most insisted it is in his best interest to consult with the elected lawmakers and his duty under the War Powers Act of 1973 which insists the President consult with Congress. However, presidential powers have greatly expanded over the years to become increasingly vague.Obama is required however to go to the Congress if he intends to declare war. “I think [the President] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz told The Huffington Post. “I see no clear and present danger to the United States of America. I just don't. We're in a bit of the fog at the moment as to what the President is trying to ultimately do.”“In the absence of a credible, direct threat to the United States and its allies or to our valuable national interests, what excuse is there for not seeking congressional approval of military action?” said Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler. “I think it is wrong and a usurpation of power and the fact that prior presidents have done it is not an excuse.”Republican Congressman Justin Amash has directly alleged Obama is violating the US Constitution by engaging in military action in Libya, citing words used by President Obama himself as a Senator.“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," said Obama as a US Senator.“Under the President's and my reading of the Constitution, the U.S. must halt all strikes against Libya. I call on congressional leadership to reconvene session so we can vote on whether to authorize military action,” Amash concluded. In addition, Republican Congressman and presidential contender Ron Paul is promoting a resolution that expresses Congress’ belief that the US President is required to obtain in advance specific authorization for the use of the US military in Libya. The measure has been supported by both Republicans and Democrats.US Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich has said the US involvement in the intervention in Libya lacks constitutional authority. It’s illegal. “The President has no constitutional basis for the order that he gave sending armed forces into combat over Tripoli,” he explained. “We are in a fourth war, fourth front, you have to count Pakistan plus Iraq and Afghanistan. When do these wars end? The United States does not have unlimited power here. We have to be very careful about making it appear that we are looking for opportunities to strike inside Muslim nations.”America needs to find a diplomatic angle with the Muslim community, including leaving Afghanistan, Pakistan and other regions. You must work with the world, not drop bombs and kill civilians, he explained. He noted it is positive the international community is working tougher on Libya. However, it still violates US procedure.“We have a prior process that trumps the UN. That’s called our Constitution which requires that presidents have to get congressional approval to take our country to war,” Kucinich said. Obama should have gained approval before committing the US to the fight. There was no reason to respond with executive action because the threat was not an imminent threat against the US or its people. “At some point the Congress is going to have to move to cut off funds for any action in Libya,” he added. “There’s a point at which the process of political change, as difficult as it may be in various countries, has to be done by those people in those countries.” Kucinich explained there needs to be a clear discussion that highlights the powers the president has and does not have so that abuses of power can be prevented in the future.Journalist and war correspondent Keith Harmon Snow argued the intervention is not only illegal, but it has nothing to do with humanitarianism – it is all about oil, military tests and corporate profits. “Big oil in there!” he remarked. “They are definitely testing new weapons at this very moment. This is just another American, illegal, discredited adventure in attacking people and calling it humanitarian and justifying it on the basis that supposedly it’s humanitarian, it’s the best for the world. But really it’s about seizing control of Libya and making sure that any popular uprising in Libya is eliminated and at the same time advancing our interest; oil, defense, uranium, gold in Libya.” It goes far beyond neglecting to seek congressional permission.