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Obama Hits the Libyan Legal Wall

The War Powers Resolution gets a destruct test.

By Hobbes  |  May 17, 2011

The Libyan morass grinds on apace:

Mourners vowed revenge and fired assault rifles into the air in a Tripoli cemetery yesterday as they buried nine men they said were Muslim clerics and medics killed in a NATO airstrike in mostly rebel-held eastern Libya.

You'd never know it from the dropping bombs and angry targets, but according to the 1973 War Powers Resolution, today is a special day in the history of our battle, such as it is, to give Qaddafi the boot:

Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States.

Based on when we started bombing Libya, that sixty-day window is up.  Not much has been accomplished in that time, partly because Mr. Obama's been very careful to lead from behind and let the French take the lead.  Libya is a mere footnote to everything else going on at home and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama did send our air forces into combat and ground forces had to rescue a downed pilot.  Congress has most certainly not declared war on Libya, or on anyone else for that matter.  Neither was there an attack on any of our allies, much less one upon the US that prevents Congress from meeting.

By what authority, then, is Mr. Obama, as commander in chief, continuing to wage war in Libya?  Without Congressional authority of any kind, where's the money coming from?  Surely Barack Obama hasn't put jet fuel on his personal credit card or signed an IOU for the surveillance aircraft he loaned the Brits?

Another Day, Another Hypocrite

This is not to say that we expect the War Powers Resolution to actually matter.  Since the day it was enacted over Nixon's veto, not one single president has ever acknowledged its authority.  The Constitution makes the President the commander-in-chief, so for military action outside of a declaration of war, what business does Congress have telling the C-in-C how to run a - ah, well, a non-war fight?

Yet most Presidents have obeyed the War Powers rules while carefully saying that they aren't really obliged to do so.  President George H.W. Bush, for instance, asked for and got Congressional authority for Desert Storm, but said the request was merely a courtesy.  George W. Bush requested and received approval prior to the invasion of Iraq, an inconvenient truth that a great many Democrats would love for you to forget.

Today we see something new: a President who neither obeys the War Powers Resolution with complaint, nor plows through it with a constitutional argument, but simply ignores it as if it didn't exist.  Despite poking around for dodges, at latest report the White House has blithely stated that the Libyan conflict is "open-ended" - it'll go on as long as Qadaffi and Mr. Obama want it to, the Congress or the Constitution notwithstanding.

Shoot The Dogs That Won't Bark

This sounds like a broken record, but can we imagine what would have happened had George W. Bush tried this?  The entire news media and Congress would have suffered a collective nervous breakdown and every talking head would be calling for impeachment.

Instead, of course, there's silence.  As if any more proof were necessary, the media liberals have once again noiselessly bellowed their utter moral bankruptcy and complete partisanship for anyone who cares to hear.

Nothing surprising about that.  What's more than a bit strange, though, is that the Republicans in Congress aren't taking the opportunity thus presented.  They could hammer Obama with a Constitutional argument that, through thirty years, the non-Presidential left and the media has generally supported.  Or they could hammer the silent media for their blatant bad faith, again with arguments that the American people have heard before and somewhat accept.  But they don't.

It's time for the music to stop in both the Evil Party and the Stupid Party; we've had enough of the Kool-Aid being served on both sides.  If Libya is worth our time, blood, and treasure, say so, explain why, and enact supporting legislation; if not, demand that we leave.  For goodness' sake, guys and gals, we elected you to represent our interests.  Don't just sit on your hands doing nothing!