The War Powers resolution was put in place by congress in 1973 in the wake of the prolonged use of the military in Vietnam. It had been specifically designed by a joint resolution from congress to check the president from using the US military in a combat role without congressional approval. By the terms of the resolution, the President can only send our armed forces into action abroad by authorization of Congress. It requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action, and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days. But for President Obama, that's all just a little to restrictive. It cramps his style.
President Obama wrote a letter to congressional leaders this afternoon suggesting that the role is now so “limited” he does not need to seek congressional approval.Might it not have been better to ask congress about whether or not you need to seek their approval, rather than just informing them you think you no longer need it?
“Since April 4,” the president wrote, “U.S. participation has consisted of: (1) non-kinetic support to the NATO-led operation, including intelligence, logistical support, and search and rescue assistance; (2) aircraft that have assisted in the suppression and destruction of air defenses in support of the no-fly zone; and (3) since April 23, precision strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against a limited set of clearly defined targets in support of the NATO-led coalition's efforts.”
US aircraft flying suppression missions place US armed forces at risk, and though you might not feel flying missile equipped drones over Libya to be an act of war, the Libyans on the receiving end of the missile strike might feel differently. Didn't you cite the War Powers Act when you started this whole thing off?
From the beginning of the U.S. military intervention in Libya, the Obama administration has cited the 1973 War Powers Act as the legal basis of its ability to conduct military activities for 60 days without first seeking a declaration of war from Congress. The military intervention started on March 19; Congress was notified on March 21. Those 60 days expire today.Not good.