While I do not often find myself in agreement with the likes of Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Rand Paul I find that their argument that the President of the United States is violating the “War Powers Resolution” is correct.

The President’s argument lacks substance, and is in fact fairly sophomoric.  His argument is the United States is not engaged in hostile activities.  Excuse me we have sent warplanes into Libya to bomb targets, we have fired cruise missiles from warships and submarines at targets, and we are providing intelligence, technical, and logistical support to NATO.  You decide for yourself whether the President is violating the War Powers Resolution, here is 50 USC § 1543:

§ 1543. Reporting requirement

    (a) Written report; time of submission; circumstances necessitating 
      submission; information reported 
      In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced – 
        (1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances; 
        (2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or 
        (3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation;

    the President shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the 
    House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the 
    Senate a report, in writing, setting forth – 
        (A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces; 
        (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and 
        (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.
(b) Other information reported 
      The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad. (c) Periodic reports; semiannual requirement 
      Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into hostilities or into any situation described in subsection (a) of this section, the President shall, so long as such armed forces continue to be engaged in such hostilities or situation, report to the Congress periodically on the status of such hostilities or situation as well as on the scope and duration of such hostilities or situation, but in no event shall he report to the Congress less often than once every six months.

    (Pub. L. 93-148, § 4, Nov. 7, 1973, 87 Stat. 555.)

I am not a big fan of the War Powers Resolution, however given the adventurism of various Presidential administrations since the end of the Cold War it is well and good the War Powers Resolution is the law of the land.

2 thoughts on “Libya and the War Powers Act

  1. I think the president has made a truly bad decision–if he went into this b/c of pressure from the secretary of state, someone I consider to be very smart and well-informed, then I am disappointed in both of them. I think they thought this was going to be a 2-3 week affair at most, and they are surprised at the resilience of the Quaddafi regime. I really wish he’d read that book about 1956 and Suez that just came out–Eisenhower said no to Britain and France over Suez, and it helped his vredibility with the Arab world ever after. Not, of course, that anything has helped us in that regard in the long term…

  2. The War Powers Resolution provides a very poor fig leaf to our Executive and Legislative branches of government. As an apology to America for failing its Constitutional duty, Congress’s WPR doesn’t do it for me. Our president’s sudden abandonment of his long-held belief in this resolution is telling. But what is the story? We see what’s happening, and even Congress can’t turn off the money or hold the President in check.

    The erosion of checks and balances – that’s the story. If Congress should, Senator Reid-willing, pass a budget that defunds the operations, the POTUS issues a signing statement stating he will ignore the law and simply shift funds from elsewhere. As we saw in the reaction to “Citizens United,” a SCOTUS decision, if the President decides the SCOTUS is wrong, he’ll just ignore the Court and dare it to enforce its decisions.

    The Constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution is a cynical joke being played on us, America. The casual destruction of the checks and balances on each of the 3 branches of government is the real story here.

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