Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama Pressed to Define US Role in Libya

Obama pressed to define US role in Libya

June 15, 2011
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner urged President Obama yesterday to explain the legal grounds for the continued US military involvement in Libya and set a Friday deadline for the commander in chief’s response.

Ratcheting up the pressure, the Ohio Republican said in a letter to the White House that the administration clearly will be in violation of the 1973 War Powers Act this weekend. Obama did not seek congressional consent for the operation within 60 days of the March 19 US airstrikes against Moammar Khadafy’s forces.

“Either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution,’’ Boehner wrote. “The House and the American people whom we represent deserve to know the determination you have made.’’

Boehner complained that while the administration has provided briefings for lawmakers, it has not sought formal authorization.

Earlier this month, the House voted to rebuke Obama for failing to pursue congressional approval and accused the president of not providing a “compelling rationale’’ for the Libyan operation.

“The ongoing, deeply divisive debate originated with a lack of genuine consultation prior to commencement of operations and has been further exacerbated by the lack of visibility and leadership from you and your administration,’’ Boehner wrote.

The White House maintains that it has been in compliance with the War Powers Act and has called the resolutions unhelpful and unnecessary.

The White House said last week it will respond to detailed questions on the US mission in Libya within the deadline.

NATO commands the operation, but the United States still plays a significant support role that includes aerial refueling of warplanes and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance work.

In the Senate, the fate of a resolution signaling support for the operation was in limbo.

Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said plans for the panel to meet tomorrow and write a resolution would be delayed to allow lawmakers to review the White House report. He left open the possibility of action on a resolution next week.

“We just want everybody to see the information and see how it impacts their thinking,’’ Kerry said. (AP)

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