Obama Administration Defends Legality of Libya Conflict

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The Obama administration is defending the legality of its involvement in the Libya conflict, saying President Barack Obama did not exceed his powers in ordering the action.

In a report to Congress Wednesday, the White House said U.S. military action in Libya does not require congressional authorization because American forces are playing a “limited, supporting” role.

A senior administration official said Mr. Obama is operating consistently with the 1973 War Powers Act, which requires U.S. forces to withdraw from military operations by the 90-day mark, absent congressional authorization.

The speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner , warned Mr. Obama this week he will violate the War Powers Act unless U.S. operations in Libya end by this Sunday — the 90-day mark — or he asks for and receives congressional approval to continue the mission.

In response to Wednesday's report, a Boehner spokesman said President Obama has “fallen short” of his obligation to properly explain U.S. involvement in Libya to the American people.

Mr. Obama told Congress in March of his decision to take military action in Libya, but did not seek congressional approval.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 10 House lawmakers filed a legal challenge to Mr. Obama's decision to take military action in Libya without seeking authorization from Congress.

Obama administration officials originally described the U.S. military commitment in Libya as an emergency move to protect Libyan civilians from their government's violent suppression of opposition to leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The U.S. has had a key support role in the operation, including aerial refueling of warplanes and providing intelligence and surveillance.

The War Powers Act calls for the president to notify congressional leaders within 48 hours of a U.S. military action. It also prohibits U.S. forces from being involved in military efforts for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, and includes an additional 30-day withdrawal period.

The House passed a resolution this month demanding a report from Congress on the Libya military operation.