I would’nt put anything past this crew..… WASHINGTON — President Obama and his legal advisers are deliberating about how the United States military may lawfully continue participating in NATO’s bombing campaign in Libya after next week, when the air war will reach a legal deadline for terminating combat operations that have not been authorized by Congress. Under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, a president must terminate such operations 60 days after he has formally notified lawmakers about the introduction of armed forces into actual or imminent hostilities. The Libya campaign will reach that mark on May 20.
Though Congressional leaders have shown little interest in enforcing the resolution, James Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, was asked Thursday about the deadline at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
He said the administration was examining the military’s “role and activities as we move through the next period of time” and would consult Congress about evaluating “what we think we can and can’t do.”
“Mindful of the passage of time including the end of the two-month period, we are in the process of reviewing our role, and the president will be making decisions going forward in terms of what he sees as appropriate for us to do,” Mr. Steinberg said.
The administration apparently has no intention of pulling out of the Libya campaign, and Mr. Steinberg said that Mr. Obama was committed “to act consistently with the War Powers Resolution.” So the Obama legal team is now trying to come up with a plausible theory for why continued participation by the United States does not violate the law.
A variety of Pentagon and military officials said the issue was in the hands of lawyers, not commanders. Several officials described a few of the ideas under consideration. [...] While many presidents of both parties have deployed forces into hostilities without prior Congressional permission, there is far less precedent for defying the section of the War Powers Resolution that imposes the 60-day deadline on hostilities. For the most part, the issue has not arisen because fighting was over by then, or Congress voted to continue an operation.
One event that set off a legal controversy came in 1999, when President Bill Clinton continued the bombing campaign in Kosovo more than two weeks after the deadline. But the Clinton legal team argued that Congress had implicitly authorized the operation to continue by appropriating specific funds for it.
That option is not available to Mr. Obama. This year, the Senate passed a resolution calling on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone on Libya. But Congress has neither approved nor specifically financed United States participation in enforcing the zone, and the House of Representatives is in recess next week. (read more)