White House Certain Obama's Libyan Intervention Is Legal

June 6, 2011 - 5:53 PM

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Just days after the House passed a bipartisan rebuke of President Barack Obama for sending military force into Libya without congressional approval – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said they sought no legal opinion on doing so, yet maintained the White House acted within its constitutional bounds.

“I’m not aware of any special seeking of guidance that we asked for,” Carney told reporters after he was asked if the White House sought a review from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

 “We believe we are acting consistent with the War Powers resolution,” Carney continued. “On the question of congressional consultation, to answer your question, there have been numerous briefings, both classified and unclassified briefings on the U.S. participation in the NATO mission, as well as on our other actions regarding Libya.”

Both Republicans and Democrats accused Obama of ignoring the 1973 War Powers Resolution that requires congressional authorization within 60 days of military action. President Richard Nixon vetoed the measure, but Congress had the two-thirds vote to override his veto. That deadline expired last month.

The House debate took place 90 days after the U.S. first joined Britain, France and other NATO allies in the air strikes against the forces of Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The justification for the mission came from United Nations Resolution 1973.

The House voted 268-145 on Friday on a measure drafted by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that says Obama failed to provide a “compelling rationale” for the use of force to aid rebels battling against Gadhafi. The measure is nonbinding, but expressly prohibits ground troops and calls on the president to provide Congress with more details on the mission and its costs within 14 days.

Boehner’s resolution was largely in response to the more sweeping proposal by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), which called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Carney said the resolution that passed was “unhelpful and unfortunate.” He further said the White House would support a bipartisan resolution in Congress by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to put a congressional stamp of approval on the mission.

“We feel confident that the president has executed a policy decision in exactly the matter that he said he would, and that our consultations have been consistent and that we are acting consistent with the War Powers Resolution and finally that we welcome and support of the War Powers resolution and finally that welcome and support a resolution similar to or exactly like the Kerry-McCain resolution,” Carney said.

He further said if Congress asks for information it will be provided to them, the same as before the resolution.

“If they ask for paper we will provide paper. But it is simply incorrect to suggest that we haven’t been consulting Congress regularly on this,” Carney said.

Obama seemed to take a different view of presidential power when he was a candidate for president. In 2007, he 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.”

“As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States,” Obama continued. “In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch.”