Obama Administration Defends Legality of Libya Conflict

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The Obama administration is defending the legality of its actions in the Libya conflict, saying President Barack Obama did not exceed his powers in ordering the action.

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

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

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

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

Also Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers filed a legal challenge to President Obama's decision to take military action in Libya without formally seeking authorization from Congress.

Ten members of the House of Representatives filed a lawsuit. They included Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul .

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.

NATO is commanding airstrikes against Mr. Gadhafi's troops and military installations. The U.S. has had a key support role, including aerial refueling of warplanes, as well as provision of intelligence and surveillance for the operation.

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.