Saturday, June 18, 2011

Obama slams debate over Libya war

US President Barack Obama

Source: Press TV

US President Barack Obama has dismissed the views of two top Pentagon lawyers when he decided to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without congressional authorization.

Jeh Johnson, Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline Krass, acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, had told the Obama administration that they believed the US military's participation in air war in Libya amounted to "hostilities," The New York Times reports.

According to the War Powers Resolution, that would have required the incumbent US president to put an end to the mission in the North African country after May 20.

Obama, however, decided to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his administration -- including White House counsel Robert Bauer and State Department legal adviser Harold Koh -- who claimed the” limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of 'hostilities' envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

Under the War Powers Act, a US president has a maximum of 60 days to maintain armed forces in military action, with an additional 30-day withdrawal period, without requiring authorization from Congress.

Earlier this month, the US House voted to censure Obama for not seeking congressional approval and accused the US president of not providing a “compelling rationale” for the military campaign in troubled Libya. The House's resolution also demanded that information be provided about the costs and scope of the mission.

In response, Obama's administration argued in a 32-page report submitted to US Congress that the Libyan mission was not subject to the 1973 War Powers Act because the United States is playing a support role in the war.

The US plays a significant role in the Western coalition operations in Libya by carrying out airstrikes, refueling warplanes and providing intelligence.

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