The War Powers Act and Libya

At it’s most basic level, the War Powers Act of 1973 gives a president sixty days of latitude to start a war.  At that point, he has thirty days to obtain Congressional permission to continue the war.  For purposes of this post, I’m going to assume (correctly, I think) that the United States’ involvement in Libya, even though it’s part of a NATO action, triggers the War Powers Act.

Obama did not go into Libya with Congressional permission.  The 60 days are up in a few days.  In theory, Obama then has to petition Congress for the continued right to engage in military action in Libya.  Interestingly, during the past 60 days, Obama has not made any moves to persuade Congress that the war in Libya is a good and necessary thing for America’s interests.  He’s also not giving any sign that he intends to do so in the future.

Here’s my thinking:  Obama knows that the Democrats will vote yes on this one, because Obama is the one asking.  Obama also knows that the Republicans will vote yes, not necessarily because they support the Libyan action but because the Republican ethos since Vietnam has been that you don’t simply walk away from a war, you first try to win the war.  Since Gaddafi is still gadding about, we haven’t won.

Under the above circumstances, you’d think that Obama would submit a vote to Congress to stay the course (whatever the Hell that course might be) in Libya.  As I noted, though, that’s not the road Obama appears to be taking.  Is it possible, do you think, that Obama is going to ignore the War Powers Act entirely, aggregating to himself the unilateral power to take America to war?  It would be the ultimate war-mongering cowboy thing to do, but I’m willing to bet good money that, should he take that tack, the media will allow his unconstitutional, illegal behavior to pass by, unremarked.

What do you think?

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    He’ll take the Alfred E. Newman approach – “What, me worry”. He will defer to Congress. He has no intention of taking a solid position one way or the other and by assigning the task to Congress to sort it all out it gives him the luxury of time for his ‘speech’ Thursday evening.
    Tit for tat, Bookworm. How far will the neighborhood bully push Israel?

  • abc

    Today is the day.  Obama has to obtain Congressional approval today or he is clearly in violation of the Constitution.  While other Presidents have failed to obtain Congressional approval ahead of time, none have failed to obtain approval within 60 days of action.  It is amazing that there is such bipartisan support for taking this issue to the Supreme Court, and the supposedly left-wing Washington Post was scathing in its attack on Obama on this issue.  I hope that action is taken, since this needless disregard for the Constitution is worse than anything I’ve seen in recent memory by a sitting President.

  • Ymarsakar

    The Democrats infamously said that they just make up the rules as they go along. And they have never given a damn what the US Constitution said in the first place. Why should they start now of all times?

  • Mike Devx

    Obama simply ignores every law that stands in the way of what he wants – IF he thinks he can get away with it.

    The only law he likes is one that he can use to exercise power against his political opponents.

    Has any president yet ever violated the sixty-days law?  Will Obama be the first?  I suspect he thinks this is one of those, where he can get away with it.  Therefore he will violate it.  It’s just his nature.

    It may be a close call.  But I’m betting on Our Great Leader to stay true to his nature.


    Oops. It’s a ‘limited’ war, so it doesn’t count and he’s not seeking approval.  Is this like being a little bit pregnant?
    In an effort to satisfy those arguing he needs to seek congressional authorization to continue US military activity in accordance with the War Powers Resolution, President Obama wrote a letter to congressional leaders this afternoon suggesting that the role is now so “limited” he does not need to seek congressional approval.

  • Charles Martel

    The U.S. role is limited to dropping remote-controlled bombs, an act which everybody knows is more morally licit than dropping bombs from pilot-controlled aircraft.

    Hey, this nuanced Obama morality is fun!


    Not just fun but economical, too!
    Officials had also predicted that the price tag for the operation would be about $40 million per month.