Friday, June 24, 2011

The War Powers Act and Libya.

To quote Wikipedia "The War Powers Act 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 president notified Congress of his actions.  The law was originally passed because Congress was upset with Nixon for bombing Cambodia in secret.   Nixon vetoed the law, but the veto was over-ridden.  Obama notified Congress publicly on TV when he notified the rest of us.  He did not engage in a secret war. Congress then mulled around and delayed past the 60 days, then another 30 days.  Article about Congress discussing a resolution  They refused to do the vote. Obama continued to bomb Libya, even without the authorization.

Legally the president is in violation of The War Powers Act. The act states that congress has the authority to order the Presdient to remove troops.  Congress has not done so.

Ethically, Congress should have their head handed to them for putting partisan politics above national interests.  

The president has tried to get around this situation by declaring the Libya actions non-hostile.  Bullcrap.  Bombing someone is a hostile act.  The only thing worse than using such a weasally way to avoid admitting you have broken the law would have been for Congress to act like such freaking baby and not do the vote.

The president has broken the law in order to protect the United States interests.

Congress, and Republicans in particular, has abandoned their duty to protect the US, instead focusing on internal politics.  They would rather a madman continue to rule Libya, a terrorist supporting state, and kill his own people as long as it would hurt the Democrat's chance of being re-elected. 

The partisan, Republican first, and only American second, Boehner said ""If the Commander-in-Chief believes that intervention in Libya is important for our national security, he has a responsibility to make a case for it -- clearly and publicly -- and seek authorization."

What bullshit.  The President, not Commander-in-Chief" did seek authorization and did make his case.  He did so on TV.

It is not the President's job to vote, it is Congress job to vote.  They have refused to act.  Boehner is trying to blame the President for Boehner's own malicious acts

It's one thing to vote against something.  Another to block a vote because you know you can't win but have enough votes to filibuster or otherwise prevent a vote.  That's OK too.   But that's not what is going on.  They are pussyfooting around not because they want the US out of Libya, but because they want to use it as a partisan weapon in the next election, and are afraid it will be used against them.

I can understand Boehner's dilemma.   He can't win no matter which way the vote goes.  He is afraid of his own people.  He is afraid traditional Republicans are upset because the GOP opposed a cheap, minimal boots-on-the-ground war.  He is also afraid that Tea Party Republicans,  are upset because the GOP authorized yet more money to be spent on overseas wars.    Worse, he doesn't want his opponent to look strong on foreign policy.

But that is no excuse for refusing to do your job and protect America's interests overseas.

P.S.  There is some question about whether the Act is constitutional.  The Constitution of the USA does not let Congress do whatever it wants.  Affecting the powers of other branches (Executive or Supreme Court) are a gray area.  No President has recognized the War Powers Act as constitutional, other presidents have used rather flimsy excuses to claim they complied, and several scholars have recommended that the law be changed  - James Baker (R) and Warren Christopher (D),  - ( Source = NYTIMES ).

P.P.S.  As illegal presidential acts, this one looks kind of boring.  Among other things, Congress doesn't even have the guts to try and censure him for it - in part because if they tried and failed it could make his actions legal as it not censuring could be described as 'approving' the military actions.   Far better than the last president's illegal hiring, promoting and firing DOJ lawyers based on partisan politics (they admitted they did this, admitted it was illegal, and then refused to prosecute the criminals in charge, or do anything to fix the situation).  Worse, the DOJ used bad legal opinions to allow (among others) torture - perhaps legal opinions given by people selected for illegal reasons.

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