News Release

Scrutinizing Libya War Powers Claims


MICHAEL RATNER, mratner at
Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which just released a statement saying: “The Center for Constitutional Rights is deeply dismayed at the Obama administration’s claim that it can continue military attacks on Libya without Congressional approval as constitutionally required and in violation of the War Powers Resolution. … The Obama administration’s letter [of June 15] would permit the U.S. to engage in high altitude bombing of a foreign nation, or predator drone attacks (and the administration admits that such drone attacks are occurring against Libya) so long as there was no active exchange of fire or substantial risk of U.S. casualties.

“The War Powers Resolution’s language definitively rejects the administration’s contorted definition of hostilities. Section 8 of the Resolution, entitled ‘Interpretation of Joint Resolution,’ states that, ‘For purposes of this joint resolution, the term “introduction of United States Armed Forces” includes the assignment of members of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged … in hostilities.”

On Friday, the New York Times reported: “President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.”