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Assault on Libya challenged as illegal war

By Askia Muhammad -Senior Correspondent- | Last updated: Jun 27, 2011 - 10:47:45 PM

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Anti-war demonstrators demand U.S. end military assault on Libya. (r)Protestors denounce war on Middle East and Libya. Photos: ANSWER Coalition

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - In the face of a lawsuit by 10 Republican and Democratic members of Congress challenging President Barack Obama's undeclared war on Libya, the president's explanation of the military incursion doesn't pass the “straight face” test, according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The bipartisan group sued the president for violating the War Powers Resolution by failing to obtain congressional approval for the Libya operation after 60 days. The lawsuit was filed one day after the Republican-controlled House passed a measure that would bar funding for the U.S. role in the attack on Libya.

The White House responded to the criticism by issuing a 38-page report June 15 that argued the War Powers Resolution does not apply because the U.S. role in Libya is limited, and thus does not require congressional approval. The report asserts: “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

The House speaker dismissed the White House explanation. “I'm looking forward to an answer on this by tomorrow,” Mr. Boehner told reporters June 16. “The White House says there are no hostilities taking place, yet we've got drone attacks underway, we're spending $10 million a day as part of an effort to drop bombs on Gadhafi's compounds. It just doesn't pass the straight-face test in my view that we're not in the midst of hostilities.”

Despite Mr. Boehner's concerns, both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have supported the president's actions. Grassroots war opponents remain in staunch opposition to the White House position.

President Obama “has come up with the most absurd and ludicrous argument of all,” Brian Becker, director of the International ANSWER Coalition told The Final Call. “The hundreds and thousands of bombs and missiles dropped on Libya since March 19, don't constitute, quote, ‘hostilities,' close quote, normally associated with war. And thus, the president asked the people to suspend their disbelief, because the people believe that when you drop bombs and missiles on a country, it is hostility. It is war.

“So we believe that the administration's argument is absurd on its face,” Mr. Becker continued, “and it comes at a time when there is growing public opposition to the war in Libya. The recent polls show that the people of this country by a margin of 2-1 are opposed to the terrible bombing of Libya,” Mr. Becker said.

President Obama's actions “taking the United States into war against Libya were in violation of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told Pacifica Radio's “Democracy Now!”

The Constitution, Mr. Kucinich continued, “makes it very clear, right from the foundation of this country, that Congress has the power to declare war. And the president did not go to Congress for this action against Libya.

“We are attempting to correct an imbalance that has occurred, not only during this administration, but over the years, where executives have appropriated for themselves the war power without checking with Congress. And, of course, in our lawsuit we also address the War Powers Act, which the president is in violation of. And we also state that neither the approval of NATO nor the UN Security Council supersedes the Constitution of the United States,” said Mr. Kucinich.

The president's decision that he had the legal authority to circumvent congressional approval, on the other hand, was made over the objection of Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers, according to published reports. Instead, Mr. Obama sided with the opinion of White House and State Department lawyers, the New York Times reported in its online edition.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution prohibits the U.S. military from being involved in a conflict for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, plus a 30-day extension. The 60-day deadline passed last month, the 30-day extension expired June 19.

“There's growing opposition in this country not simply to the war in Libya, but there's growing opposition to the United States inserting itself, alone or with NATO, as kind of a global cop,” said Mr. Kucinich, “while our priorities here at home are getting ignored. And that's something that needs to be said right now.

“With 14 million Americans out of work, with 50 million Americans still without decent healthcare, with so many Americans losing their jobs and their retirement security, with people not being able to send their children to the schools they envisioned they'd be able to send them to, with our environment deteriorating, we are still prosecuting wars and trying to play global cop.”

Mr. Kucinich reacted angrily to the reports that the White House ignored the legal opinions from the Justice Department and the Pentagon. “It is very disturbing to learn that the White House deliberately proceeded to continue the war in Libya without congressional authorization, even when it had legal advice from the Pentagon and the Justice Department that our actions in Libya do constitute ‘hostilities,' ” Mr. Kucinich said, according to Fox News.com.

“We have the makings of a constitutional crisis when the president, who as a U.S. senator acknowledged the duty of a president to come to Congress for permission to conduct a war, simply changes course on his interpretation of the War Powers Resolution and determines to conduct a war absent congressional authorization, even when it is contrary to the best legal advice of the Pentagon and the Justice Department,” he said.

Related news:

NATO bombing raid kills 15 including three children west of Tripoli (FCN, 06-22-2011)

Voices of outrage against Libyan war  (FCN, 06-21-2011)

Gold, Oil, Africa and Why the West Wants Gadhafi Dead  (FCN, 06-07-2011)

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