Did Obama violate the 1973 War Powers Act?

Congress did not approve or fund the 112 Tomahawk Missile attack on Libya yesterday.  Is this a clear violation of the War Powers Resolution?

While I agree we needed to smack Gaddafi around, we did so without the consent of Congress.  So I ask you, did the bombing violate the WPR?


The following is the text of a letter Representative Dennis J Kucinich has sent to members of Congress ahead of their consideration of his bill to end US involvement in the military action against Libya.

  The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) announced it would continue combat operations in Libya for at least another 90 days. Nato. The president went to Nato on Libya, not the US Congress, as the constitution requires. The US has thus far provided 93% of the cruise missiles, 66% of the personnel, 50% of the ships and 50% of the planes at an estimated cost of up to $700m, and now Nato says the war will go another 90 days. Since when does Nato trump the constitution of the United States?

It is time, in the name of the people of the United States, that Congress insist that the president obey the constitution and the statutes concerning war powers.

Last week, I introduced H Con Res 51, a bipartisan resolution that disapproves of US military operations in Libya and requires the president to withdraw US armed forces from participation in the Nato mission in the country within 15 days after passage. I support my colleague Representative Turner’s resolution, which disapproves of US military operations in Libya because I believe that it is the minimum that Congress must do to challenge the unconstitutional war in Libya. Yet, as the war in Libya surpasses the 60-day mark with no end in sight, it is clear that Congress must do more than just express its disapproval.

Article 1, section 8 [of the US constitution] provides only Congress with the ability to declare war or authorise the use of military force. The War Powers Act allows a narrow exemption from the constitutional requirement by allowing the president to take the US to war without congressional approval in the face of an “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces”. We have now been involved in a war on Libya for over 72 days with no constitutionally required authorisation for the use of military force or declaration of war.

The president recently submitted a letter to Congress about the war in Libya arguing that he was not required to come to Congress for authorisation because the war is not really a war. Really.

While we may not all agree on the merits of military intervention in Libya, we can all agree that Congress must have the opportunity to have a full and ample debate on the commitment of US armed forces to a war abroad. This institution cannot stand by idly as a war of choice with significant ramifications for our national and economic security is waged without Congress fulfilling its responsibilities under the constitution. We must defend the constitution of the United States.

The War Powers Resolution/Act of 1973 (50 U.S.C. 1541–1548) was a United States Congress joint resolution providing that the President can send U.S. armed forces into action abroad only by authorization of Congress or if the United States is already under attack or serious threat.

The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30 day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force or a declaration of war. The resolution was passed by two-thirds of Congress, overriding a presidential veto. (Nixon).  Did Congress get a 48-hour notice?

As I read the resolution, it maybe fuzzy at this point if it covers actual missile strikes from outside the country under attack.  It seems to focus more on having troops occupy the country.  If “military forces” include subs and destroyers, then it should fall under the Act.   It also states we can only be in a conflict for 60 days.  However, if this attack on Libya does not fall under the act, can the President commit our forces for longer?

The War Powers Resolution has been controversial since it became law.  In passing the resolution, Congress specifically cites the Necessary and Proper Clause for its authority.  Under the Necessary and Proper Clause, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

From Politico

Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.

Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told POLITICO.

And liberals fumed that Congress hadn’t been formally consulted before the attack and expressed concern that it would lead to a third U.S. war in the Muslim world.


The Cost

By enforcing a no fly zone, it is costing the U.S. taxpayer $100 million to $300 million PER WEEK to maintain.  In order to have a no-fly zone, we first had to take out (bomb) all of Libya’s ground defenses.  Keep in mind we haven’t declared war on Libya.  So when does the War Powers Resolution kick in?  Congress is supposed to hold the purse strings on any military spending and it appears they have been by-passed.

I’d like to see what constitutional scholars have to say on this matter and get your take.  I believe we are on a fine line here and we should clarify our intent and end game strategy ASAP!  The President made it real clear we will not have boots on the ground.  So eliminating Kaddafi does not look like the strategy.

With the current costs to enforce a no-fly zone, Congress needs to be informed and agree to fund this… from where I don’t know, we are broke.

Paul Smith Owner:  WWW.SmithHeggumReport.com 

Delegate to the Republican Party

Taking our Government back, one day at a time.

Short URL: http://www.smithheggumreport.com/?p=1724

Posted by on Mar 20 2011. Filed under Current, International, Military, Paul Smith, Political, United States. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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