Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Administration Subterfuge

The 1973 War Powers Act (“WPA”) provides that a president who initiates a military operation must secure congressional approval within 60 days or end the military operation within 30 days thereafter. Obama notified Congress about the Libyan campaign on March 21, so the 60-day period expires this Friday.

It’s now clear that he intends neither to secure congressional authorization for the Libyan operation before the clock runs out nor to end American involvement (which still involves supporting NATO bombing raids and flying drones over Libya) in the following 30 days.   Obama isn’t refusing to comply with the WPA on the grounds that it’s an unconstitutional invasion of presidential authority. He’s apparently relying on the argument that American involvement in the Libyan military operation ended on April 1, when he transferred leadership NATO.

Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway show how preposterous a fiction that is inasmuch the bill to American taxpayers, already at three-quarters of a billion dollars, is getting bigger every day and an American general still stands at the top of the chain of command.  So there's no getting around the fact that Obama is stealthily expanding executive power at the expense of (an admittedly acquiescent) Congress:
“Obama is breaking new ground, moving decisively beyond his predecessors. W. Bush gained congressional approval for his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bill Clinton acted unilaterally when he committed American forces to NATO’s bombing campaign in Kosovo, but he persuaded Congress to approve special funding for his initiative within 60 days. And the entire operation ended on its 78th day.

“In contrast, Congress has not granted special funds for Libya since the bombing began, and the campaign is likely to continue beyond the 30-day limit set for termination of all operations.”
And why is Obama evading his legal duties under the WPA? The answer is depressingly obvious. If he sought congressional approval for the Libyan mission, as the WPA requires, he’d have to explain to Congress what it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of stuff that Obama could so easily cure (I think). It is this kind of stuff that is going to do him in, and having killed bin Laden won't give him a free hall pass.