Obama overrides lawyers over Libya war

2011-06-18 11:53

Washington - President Barack Obama overruled two senior government lawyers in deciding that he had the authority to continue US military operations in Libya without Congressional approval, The New York Times reported late on Friday.

In reaching his conclusion Obama rejected the opinions of Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, The Times reported, citing unnamed officials familiar with the deliberations.

Johnson and Krass both told the White House they believed that US military activity in the Nato-led air war over Libya amounted to "hostilities."

Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution (WPR), a president has 60 days to get authorisation from Congress - which under the US constitution has the authority to declare war - for a military deployment. Failing that, the Resolution sets a further 30 days to withdraw US forces from harm's way.

Obama however agreed with two other top government lawyers - White House counsel Robert Bauer and State Department legal adviser Harold Koh - who said the US military action in Libya did not amount to "hostilities" because it was in a support role.

The White House said it would not comment on the Times report, but spokesperson Eric Schultz described the deliberations as "a robust process."

The WPR "has been subject to intense debate since it was first enacted in 1973, and even critics of the administration's position concede the legitimacy of different points of view," said Schultz, adding that "there was a full airing of views within the administration."

He said the White House would not discuss the internal process in which Obama receives legal advice, but said: "It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict."

The White House on Wednesday made their case for participating in the Nato-led assault on Moamer Kadhafi's forces in a 30-page report to lawmakers.

The document was compiled after Republican House Speaker John Boehner sent a scathing letter to the president warning that US operations would be illegal come Sunday because they lacked formal congressional approval.

"US forces are playing a constrained and supporting role in a multinational coalition," the White House report said, noting that the use of force was being used solely to protect civilians, enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo.

A senior administration official added: "we are not engaged in any of the activities that typically over the years in war powers analysis has been considered to constitute hostilities within the meaning of the statute."

  • Martin du Plessis - 2011-06-18 12:15

    It isn't a war! It's target practice!

  • Max - 2011-06-18 12:31

    Overruled! WTF? What is the world coming to. So, bombing the $h1t out of people did not amount to "hostilities" Just admit it, you are there for the oil!

      james4usa - 2011-06-18 14:44

      We get ZERO Oil From Lib. Obama is clearly breaking the Law he should be impeached. So far we spent $1B in Lib. Bush went to Congress and got their approval to fight Israels war in Iraq.

  • TheDon007 - 2011-06-18 12:33

    Typical American bureaucracy.No wonder America has lost just about every war it has ever fought.I hate America and was glad when the towers fell,it showed that they are not untouchable.

      Wes - 2011-06-18 12:45

      You don't come across as someone who did well in history class.

      TSaR - 2011-06-18 13:12

      Only sociopaths would be glad when the towers fell. People lost thier parents, spouses, children, grandchildren in that attack. I hope you never experience this loss. You're probably sad that bin Laden got killed.

      hawk - 2011-06-18 15:31

      While your'e typing your message of hate, just remember who invented the PC, the car you drive,the washing machine and the stove you use, the Television, the telephone and all the other stuff you use. Also be thankfull that youre not speaking Russian or German, and its all because of American exceptionalism and true democracy. Now clime back in your hovel you third world pheasant, or shall I say Jihadi fanatic

  • Wes - 2011-06-18 12:43

    What about the illegal war conducted by Bush? The republicans suing him don't do irony.

  • PMG - 2011-06-18 13:00

    And everyone said that Bush was the war monger,Yes I can not Obama seems to be much worse - Always said that darkies cant govern,they just love to slaughter others,its part of there culture.

      Karabo N. Ndlovu - 2011-06-18 17:24

      obama is one man. His advisors are all white! who is more war hungry? pathetic racist!

      trunkbutt - 2011-06-18 21:07

      Obomba is currently dropping bombs and killing 5 countries Bush did it to 2

  • Anton - 2011-06-18 13:18

    The libyan people would be pretty disgusted, to see how THEIR civil war has been hijacked, by those who want to get rid of their frustrations re America , Europe, Nato, and whites in general, ALL of which, has hardly anything to do with their cause. Their cause being that of getting rid of a psychopathic murderer. Rather than concentrating on some Nato air support, it would be so much more comforting for the Libyan people , if one would concentrate on the thousands and thousands of brave ,,Rebels,, whose aim is to get rid of this Gaddafi family, so they can start planning their own future.

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