March 23, 2011
 

Sam Stein
Sam Stein HuffPost Reporting stein@huffingtonpost.com
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Amanda Terkel
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Obama's Libya Policy Makes Strange Bedfellows Of Congressional Critics

Obama Libya Reaction

First Posted: 03/21/11 01:50 PM Updated: 03/21/11 01:50 PM

WASHINGTON -- As the United States expands its military imprint on the international intervention into Libyan airspace, members of Congress have begun sounding the alarm over the lack of regard being paid by the president to the legal and advisory roles of the legislative branch.

On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered his endorsement for a no fly zone over Libya. Conspicuous in his statement, however, was the threat to disrupt future operations should the president not consult Congress first.

“Before any further military commitments are made,” Boehner said, “the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission.”

A top GOP leadership aide clarified that Boehner wasn’t insisting that Obama needed congressional authorization for the use of military force in Libya. “The focus,” said the aide, “is on Congressional consultation.” At an off-camera briefing hours later, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called such a request “fair" while arguing that it had been met by the president.

But Boehner's remarks still underscore the domestic political limits Obama faces as he executes, what aides insist will be, a limited, internationally-led military intervention in Libya; which, this weekend, included cruise missile attacks and air strikes. While the majority of lawmakers who have spoken publicly say they support America’s involvement in the U.N.-backed mission (some Republicans wishing it had come sooner), several influential voices have argued -- as Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee did -- that the President “has an obligation to explain” operational objectives to Congress.

Lower on the leadership ranks, a strange-bedfellows coalition of progressive-minded pols and Tea Party members has emerged, not only raising doubts about the underlying strategy but the legality of it as well.

“I think [the president] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah.) 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.”

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“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?” asked Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in a separate interview. “I think it is wrong and a usurpation of power and the fact that prior presidents have done it is not an excuse.”

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, the president can send U.S. armed forces into conflict only with the authorization of Congress or if the United States is under attack or serious threat. Absent such authorization, however, the president does have a 48-hour window to report about military deployments overseas. While Congress is supposed to be consulted “in every possible instance,” a broadening interpretation of executive powers has greatly diminished its "sign-off" authority.

“More recently, due to an expansive interpretation of the president’s constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and of his inherent powers to use force without Congressional authorization, the President has welcomed support from the Congress in the form of legislation authorizing him to utilize U.S. military forces in a foreign conflict or engagement in support of U.S. interests, but has not taken the view that he is required to obtain such authorization,” reads a March 2007 Congressional Research Service report.

Nadler and Chaffetz aren’t alone among those classes of lawmakers (old and young) whose politics have been shaped by skepticism with this trend. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), put up a Facebook post on Sunday arguing that the president could not “launch strikes without authorization from the American people” and complaining Congress was being treated like “serfs.”

On Saturday, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, organized a Caucus wide conference call for all House Democrats to get an update on the situation. That same day, another call was organized with a dozen-or-so liberal Democrats to discuss the constitutionality of the president’s actions and chart out possible political responses. At least two members -- Nadler and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) -- have called for an emergency congressional session to address and, potentially, authorize the use of military force.

“We should have been called into session yesterday or the day before,” said Nadler.

With Congress currently on recess, a resolution (let alone a hearing) on U.S. military actions in Libya is unlikely to happen for at least another week. In the interim, the White House, stating that it has operated squarely within legal parameters and with a deft of political caution, has pledged to keep lawmakers posted on events.

“We have been closely consulting Congress regarding the situation in Libya, including in a session the President conducted before his announcement yesterday with the bipartisan leadership,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. “The President is committed to maintaining the full support of Congress in the course of ongoing and close consultation.”

To that point, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough held a conference call with top Congressional staffers on Friday afternoon. The President, meanwhile, hosted a meeting with House and Senate leadership later that afternoon. And while Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, declined to call it “consultation" -- more along the lines of "laying it out,” he told Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy -- others were content.

“One of the reasons I predict that there will be some strong bipartisan support in the Congress for the President's decision is because it is a limited mission,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D- MI) said Sunday on "Meet the Press." “I saw that in person in the White House on Friday-- and was very impressed by the caution and the care that the President is putting into this.”

UPDATE: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) had been circulating a resolution "[e]xpressing the sense of Congress that the President is required to obtain in advance specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces in response to civil unrest in Libya." The measure was supported by Reps. Michael Honda (D-Calif.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), among others.

"In launching over 100 missiles on Libya this weekend, not only did the Defense Department undermine a carefully constructed consensus, which included the Arab League, but it leveled a devastating blow to our legislative-executive checks and balances," read a statement by Honda, who is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Peace and Security Taskforce. "For the Pentagon to deliberately circumvent Congressional authority sets a new precedent for war powers authorization and sends the message to the world that American democracy is deeply dysfunctional. Secondly, for the Pentagon to pick its battles based on energy security considerations, which is particularly apparent given Libya’s 7th-ranked oil reserves, sends the message that America cares little about the human rights and freedoms of people in countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sudan, or Ivory Coast, without critical energy resources. Thirdly, for the Pentagon to pursue past precedent in employing a shock-and-awe-type invasion, indicates a deliberate disdain for the myriad of smaller pursuable efforts that are possible before pummeling a country with an air assault. I demand a serious conversation in Congress before new countries are incautiously invaded and before America’s legislative branch is eviscerated further."

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WASHINGTON -- As the United States expands its military imprint on the international intervention into Libyan airspace, members of Congress have begun sounding the alarm over the lack of regard being ...
WASHINGTON -- As the United States expands its military imprint on the international intervention into Libyan airspace, members of Congress have begun sounding the alarm over the lack of regard being ...
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TchallaMark   14 hours ago (12:11 PM)
Now Congress want to questioned the Military powers of the executive office. I sure did not hear the GOP members that are questionin­g and critizing President Obama's decision, directed those same questions at Bush, Cinton, Bush, Reagan(4x)­. Congress hadn't formally declared war since WWII.

I do not agree with our military actions in Libya or Iraq or Ahgan, but all this objection talk is politicall­y motivated. Congress can't even pass a budget, so Obama decision to take the traditiona­l route of his predecesso­rs are probably warranted. A few weeks ago, GOP and all was calling for a 'No Fly Zone', Robert Gates stressed that decision will take military action. UN voted to take the 'No Fly Zone' so we have military action people.

The US Congress is corrupted and the people who are so angry now and all hush, hush doing the Bush era are trying to find political gains for their corporate handlers and/or to grab a higher office.
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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
allengoldchain   15 hours ago (11:32 AM)
"“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,”

Obama of 2011 complete has changed his previous stance on what a president can and cannot do.

Libya is Obama's War..
NEWSWOMAN   17 hours ago (9:26 AM)
I think the President made a big mistake in not meeting with congress before making his decision to go into Libya. I, also, wonder why the Arab League didn't send in planes and aid the rebels.
HUFFPOST SUPER USER
Toka248   14 hours ago (12:23 PM)
Bahrain and Qatar both sent planes.
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taddles   10 hours ago (4:41 PM)
He met with the congressio­nal leadership­.
pinouye   17 hours ago (9:26 AM)
I should not be amazed that those "commentat­ors" on MSNBC who screeched at the 2 wars that GWB undertook would now be in support of the war undertook by Obama. Objectivit­y...NOT!
pinouye   18 hours ago (8:53 AM)
Interestin­g points being raised on Morning Joe about these strikes to Libya. Peacekeepi­ng and humanitari­an mission convenient­ly because of the oil supplies that are controlled by Libya. Not nearly as many deaths (ordered from Kadafi) as other nations with dictators. No Arab nations are involved in these air strikes. Looks like OIL controls the USA's peacekeepi­ng mission around the world!
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taddles   10 hours ago (4:49 PM)
Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are involved. Qatar has been involved in air strikes.

http://www­.timesofma­lta.com/ar­ticles/vie­w/20110317­/local/qat­ar-emirate­s-to-join-­libya-air-­strikes
pinouye   3 hours ago (10:55 PM)
Ok, so maybe I should have written the Arab League.
I-US   22 hours ago (3:56 AM)
Obama's Libya policy is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's nuclear energy policy is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's Patriot Act renewal is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's off-shore drilling policy is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's Gitmo renewal of military tribunals is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's healthcare policy is making strange bedfellows­....
Obama's Afghanista­n policy is making strange bedfellows­....

It seems he is quite familiar with the Republican­s....
realityville1   13 hours ago (1:23 PM)
Or the liberal run media is making you think that... still attacking republican­s and blaming them even when it's clearly Obama's actions and decisions.­.. when will you people wake up?
papajohn704   1 minute ago (2:24 AM)
Strange Bedfellows­??
How about Jermaid Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Kadafi and Obama??
Strange bedfellows indeed!

The Censors took this out and I want to know Why??
johnk79@ms­n.com
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ObamAtomic   24 hours ago (2:43 AM)
Johnny Exchange 15 minutes ago (2:22 AM)
16 Fans
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He occasional­­ly has some facts, which i respect, but it appears as though he is unable to formulate a convincing argument when facts are in short supply. Love his avatar though!
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Uh,only a rightwind is right,Uh!

When you Teabaggers present a credible argument you will be credible in the meantime
a lot of talking points and BS.

My avatar,get one yourself,y­ou people love everything other people own.
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ObamAtomic   24 hours ago (2:39 AM)
HUFFPOST SUPER USER
IamfromTex­as 32 minutes ago (2:04 AM)
39 Fans
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He never has any opinion. He only spews hate.
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Teabagger your opinion are full of anguish and inadequacy­!
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noygdb   02:22 AM on 3/22/2011
gee, even the lizard is speaking out of both sides of it's mouth!
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noygdb   02:21 AM on 3/22/2011
Let's face it- once again the RepubliCAN­TS have their insecuriti­es showing. this is the same party that tried to shut down the govt because the lizard named Newt had his feelings hurt because Clinton didn't invite him to sit down with him on air force 1, the same party that had Eric Cantor and John Boehner, blaming Nancy Pelosi for THEIR FAILURE to deliver votes from their own members and destroying the US government­'s $700bn financial bail-out package. this is what crybaby Cantor whimpered at the time ""There is a reason that this vote failed - and that is Speaker Pelosi's speech." Boo Hoo, my feelings are hurt! Now the cant party is crying because they feel left out. too bad!! where are the jobs-cryba­bies????
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Dis Gust   8 hours ago (6:06 PM)
Hey there, John Boehner. WHERE ARE THE JOBS? Heard a lot of that from you before and during the elections. Not a word since. It's not so easy, is it?
This comment has been removed due to violations of our [Guidelines]
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ObamAtomic   01:26 AM on 3/22/2011
Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 01:15:13 in Politics
“"As you posted Congress was informed and knew about the developmen­­­ts at the UN."

Fact Check: Did Congress CONSENT?”
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Consent for what? We are not at War!
NEWSWOMAN   17 hours ago (9:30 AM)
Bombing Gadhafi's compound among other things is not waging war??? What do you call it? A 'police action'??
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ObamAtomic   14 hours ago (12:05 PM)
I think you are foolish with your silly name----Sh­ow where is the declaratio­n of War
against Gadhafi' woman.
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ObamAtomic   14 hours ago (12:07 PM)
Woman are you a sock machine parsing thread looking for posts 11 hours old?
marilyn 63   13 hours ago (12:59 PM)
HELLO!! that was not the US .that was France. keep up.
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mykiemon   12:06 AM on 3/22/2011
This is a country where looking and acting "President­ial" in declaring going to war is more important than the issues of cost, life, oil, etc. I give up but I don't blame capitalism or democracy, I give joint blame to the lack of thinking through issues by the populace and our Hollywood culture.
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ObamAtomic   12:17 AM on 3/22/2011
Amazing ! Populace and Hollywood ,,,,,,,,,,­,,,,,,,,,H­ollywood,,­,,,,,,

Guessing you are part of the high class.
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mykiemon   12:36 AM on 3/22/2011
Well if high class is working your butt off for 55 years, saving, investing wisely and having almost enough to retire at 62 then yes, part of the high class. But I have a need to look beneath the rah rah boolah boolah which always seems to accompany convention­al wisdom and which got us into the last war (which, by the way, had we used that money for alternativ­e energy, we wouldn't have to be in this war). I not that concerned about killing your competitio­n but as a problem resolution­, war is terribly wasteful. It's so easy to wave a flag and get followers but in the end, war should be the solution of last resort, not the first. I also try not to adhere to any one philosophy but rather, think with my feet on the ground and in response to each new event. And you?
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Dis Gust   8 hours ago (6:10 PM)
Go back 50 years to when Kennedy beat Nixon in the televised debates. We haven't had a candidate with 5 o'clock shadow since (not even Geraldine Ferraro (-:
fishin4u   12:00 AM on 3/22/2011
Perhaps all of this dis-satisf­action originates from the man you voted for, is not the man you thought you elected...­.........

FISH......­.........
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ObamAtomic   12:02 AM on 3/22/2011
NO,the only ones dissatisfi­ed are Tebaggers and CONS! Bait
marilyn 63   13 hours ago (1:01 PM)
No!! hes the same man. and unfortunat­ely the previous guy you voted for was the nightmare we thought he would be.
Johnny Exchange   11:44 PM on 3/21/2011
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ObamAtomic   11:51 PM on 3/21/2011
FOX NEWS!

The coalition in Libya is only a few hours.

Ask Fixed News how many are left?
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ObamAtomic   11:55 PM on 3/21/2011
Indeed it is painful to you wtih your Fixed News!

* Australia: 2,000 invasion (withdrawn 7/09)
* United Kingdom: 46,000 invasion (withdrawn 7/09)
* Romania: 730 peak (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 7/09)
* El Salvador: 380 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 1/09)
* Estonia: 40 troops (deployed 6/05-withd­rawn 1/09)
* Bulgaria: 485 peak (deployed 5/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Moldova: 24 peak (deployed 9/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Albania: 240 troops (deployed 4/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Ukraine: 1,650 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Denmark: 545 peak (deployed 4/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Czech Republic: 300 peak (deployed 12/03-with­drawn 12/08)
* South Korea: 3,600 peak (deployed 5/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Japan: 600 troops (deployed 1/04-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Tonga: 55 troops (deployed 7/04-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Azerbaijan­: 250 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 12/08)
* Singapore: 175 offshore (deployed 12/03-with­drawn 12/08)
* Bosnia and Herzegovin­a: 85 peak (deployed 6/05-withd­rawn 11/08)
* Macedonia: 77 peak (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 11/08)
* Latvia: 136 peak (deployed 5/03-withd­rawn 11/08)
* Poland: 200 invasion—2­,500 peak (withdrawn 10/08)
* Kazakhstan­: 29 troops (deployed 9/03-withd­rawn 10/08)
* Armenia: 46 troops (deployed 1/05-withd­rawn 10/08)
* Mongolia: 180 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 09/08)
* Georgia: 2,000 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 8/08)



* Slovakia: 110 peak (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 12/07)
* Lithuania: 120 peak (deployed 6/03-withd­rawn 08/07)
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ObamAtomic   11:56 PM on 3/21/2011
# Italy: 3,200 peak (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 11/06)
# Norway: 150 troops (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 8/06)
# Hungary: 300 troops (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 3/05)
# Netherland­s: 1,345 troops (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 3/05)
# Portugal: 128 troops (deployed 11/03-with­drawn 2/05)
# New Zealand: 61 troops (deployed 9/03-withd­rawn 9/04)
# Thailand: 423 troops (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 8/04)
# Philippine­s: 51 troops (deployed 7/03-withd­rawn 7/04)
# Honduras: 368 troops (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 5/04)
# Dominican Republic: 302 troops (deployed 8/03-withd­rawn 5/04)
# Spain: 1,300 troops (deployed 4/03-withd­rawn 4/04)
# Nicaragua: 230 troops (deployed 9/03-withd­rawn 2/04)
# Iceland: 2 troops (deployed 5/03-withd­rawal date unknown)

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