There is no better way to say this. Obama is breaking the law.
It has been over sixty days since the start of the “kinetic military action” in Libya and so far there has been no authorization of force or declaration of war or anything that even remotely suggests that anyone other than President Obama has a role in the use of U.S. military force around the world. Love it or hate it, the War Powers Resolution is the law and it very clearly states that the President must cease military operations within 60 days (or 90 days if “the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces”) if he does not get Congressional approval (50 U.S.C. § 1544b). It is also clear from the law that there are three circumstances that allow the President to introduce military forces into hostile or imminently hostile situations as follows:
(1) a declaration of war,
(2) specific statutory authorization, or
(3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces. (50 U.S.C. § 1541c)
Exactly which one of these three circumstances describe U.S. military actions within Libya? If you say none of them, you are smarter than the average U.S. Congressman who seems to be oblivious to the fact that the man who is supposed to enforce the laws feels no obligation to follow the one that restrains his use of military power.
So where is the outrage in Congress against this flouting of the law by President Obama? Beyond a relatively few Constitution loving Senators and Representatives, the silence is deafening. Even Senator McCain said “No president has ever recognized the constitutionality of the War Powers Act, and neither do I. So I don’t feel bound by any deadline.” So Presidents can refuse to follow laws that they do not like and this is coming from the 2008 Republican Presidential candidate. The Republicans should be embarrassed by this remark coming from the man that they wanted to be President.
It is time – actually, it is past time – for the U.S. Congress to respect the rule of law and prohibit the continued use of the American military in Libya. The Founding Fathers wanted Congress to be the final decision making body on the use of military forces because they were wary of kings who constantly lead their countries into costly and bloody wars in Europe. It is time that Congress understand that checks and balances are ineffective if not exercised by the appropriate branch of government. And no, the Boehner resolution was not an adequate response to Obama’s attack on Congressional war making.