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Critics from both parties say President Obama needed Congressional consent under the War Powers Resolution.
Obama hasn’t entirely ignored the War Powers Resolution. On March 21, he sent Congress a letter justifying the Libya attack.
“Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States,” Obama argued. (The resolution requires presidents to present Congress with such a justification for hostilities that lack a Congressional declaration of war.)
“I’m providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action,” Obama’s two-page letter concluded.
On Monday, National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon argued that the Libya attack “is a limited — in terms of scope, duration and task — operation, which does fall in the president’s authorities,” the New York Times reported.
But neither Donilon’s statement nor the letter are likely to settle the matter, which might escalate as Congress returns from recess, especially if the war in Libya drags on or claims American casualties.
Either way, the most troubling criticism that Obama faces comes from a prominent Constitutional scholar, who in 2007 told the Boston Globe: “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
That scholar? Senator Barack Obama.
Follow David Case on Twitter: @DavidCaseReport