Lawmakers sue President Obama over Libya

A bipartisan group of House members announced on Wednesday that it is filing a lawsuit charging that President Obama made an illegal end-run around Congress when he approved U.S military action against Libya.

“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who led the 10-member anti-war coalition with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

The White House is expected on Wednesday to deliver to Congress a much-anticipated report detailing military activity in Libya.

According to Kucinich, the suit will challenge the Obama administration’s “circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said at his daily press briefing that he is aware of the lawsuit and said the forthcoming report to Congress would resolve questions in it.

“We feel very confident that we will be able to answer the questions that Congress has,” he said.

A senior Obama administration official, speaking on background, dismissed the Kucinich lawsuit, but declined to address it directly.

“I don’t think we should comment specifically about lawsuit,” the official said.

But former Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.), the co-chairman of the Constitution Project’s War Powers Committee, called the Kucinich suit “right on the merits” but certain to be dismissed on procedural grounds because courts have determined members of Congress do not have standing to file such suits.

The suit comes a day after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent Obama a letter claiming that military action in Libya will violate the 1973 War Powers Resolution if it does not end by Friday, 90 days after it began.

The Kucinich-Jones group also includes Democrats John Conyers of Michigan and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and Republicans Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Duncan of Tennessee, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Ron Paul of Texas, Tim Johnson of Illinois and Dan Burton of Indiana.
Source : http://www.politico.com/

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War Powers Act Does Not Apply to Libya, Obama Argues

WASHINGTON — The White House is telling Congress thatPresident Obama has the legal authority to continue American participation in the NATO-led air war in Libya, even though lawmakers have not authorized it.

In a broader package of materials the Obama administration is sending to Congress on Wednesday defending its Libya policy, the White House, for the first time, offers lawmakers and the public an argument for why Mr. Obama has not been violating the War Powers Resolution since May 20.

On that day, the Vietnam-era law’s 60-day deadline for terminating unauthorized hostilities appeared to pass. But the White House argued that the activities of United States military forces in Libya do not amount to full-blown “hostilities” at the level necessary to involve the section of the War Powers Resolution that imposes the deadline.

“We are acting lawfully,” said Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, who expanded on the administration’s reasoning in a joint interview with White House Counsel Robert Bauer.

The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role — providing surveillance and refueling for allied warplanes — although unmanned dronesoperated by the United States periodically fire missiles as well.

They argued that United States forces are at little risk in the operation because there are no American troops on the ground and Libyan forces are unable to exchange meaningful fire with American forces. They said that there was little risk of the military mission escalating, because it is constrained by the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorized use of air power to defend civilians.

“We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” Mr. Koh said. “We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped, or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

The administration unveiled its argument at a time when members of Congress have shown increasing skepticism about the Libya operation. On June 3, the House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring that the mission had not been authorized.

On Wednesday, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, sent Mr. Obama a letter pointing out that even under a flexible interpretation of War Powers Resolution that would allow hostilities to last 90 days without Congressional authorization, Mr. Obama was out of time. Mr. Boehner demanded a legal explanation by Friday.

“Given the mission you have ordered to the U.S. Armed Forces with respect to Libya and the text of the War Powers Resolution, the House is left to conclude that you have made one of two determinations: either you have concluded the War Powers Resolution does not apply to the mission in Libya, or you have determined the War Powers Resolution is contrary to the Constitution,” Mr. Boehner wrote. “The House, and the American people whom we represent, deserve to know the determination you have made.”

It remains to be seen whether majorities in Congress will accept the administration’s argument, defusing the confrontation, or whether the White House’s response will instead fuel greater criticism. Either way, because the War Powers Resolution does not include a definition of “hostilities” and the Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue, the legal debate is likely to be resolved politically, said Rick Pildes, a New York University law professor.

“There is no clear legal answer,” he said. “The president is taking a position, so the question is whether Congress accepts that position, or doesn’t accept that position and wants to insist that the operation can’t continue without affirmative authorization from Congress.”

Ten members of Congress — led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, and Rep. Walter Jones, Republican of North Carolina — filed a lawsuit on Weednesday asking a judge to order Mr. Obama to stop the air war. The suit asserts that the operation is illegal because Congress did not authorize it. That lawsuit faces steep challenges, however, because courts in the past have dismissed similar cases on technical grounds.

The administration had earlier argued that Mr. Obama could initiate the intervention in Libya on his own authority as commander-in-chief because it was not a “war” in the constitutional sense. It also released a memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel agreeing that he could do so unilaterally because he anticipated that its nature, scope, and duration would be limited.

Since then, the conflict in Libya has dragged on longer than expected, and the goal of the NATO allies has all but openly shifted from merely defending civilians to forcing the Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar Qaddafi, from power. But Mr. Koh and Mr. Bauer said that while regime change in Libya may be a diplomatic goal, the military mission is separate, and remains limited to protecting civilians.

The administration legal team considered other approaches, including a proposal to stop the use of armed drones after May 20 in order to bolster the case that United States forces were no longer engaged in hostilities. But the White House ultimately decided not to make any changes in the military mission.

While many presidents have challenged the constitutionality of other aspects of the War Powers Resolution — which Congress enacted over President Nixon’s veto — no administration has said that the section imposing the 60-day clock was unconstitutional. In 1980,the Office of Legal Counsel concluded that it was within Congress’s constitutional power to enact such a limit on unauthorized hostilities.

Mr. Bauer and Mr. Koh said the 1980 memorandum remains in force, but that their legal argument does not invoke any constitutional challenge to the act.

It was not clear whether the Office of Legal Counsel has endorsed the White House’s interpretation of what “hostilities” means. Mr. Bauer declined to say whether the office had signed off on the theory, saying he would not discuss inter-agency deliberations.

Mr. Koh argued that the administration’s interpretation of the word was not unprecedented, noting that there have been previous disputes about whether the 60-day-clock portion of the War Powers Resolution applied to deployments where — unlike the Libya operation — there were troops on the ground and Americans suffered casualties.

Still, such previous cases typically involved peacekeeping missions in which the United States had been invited to take part, and there were only infrequent outbreaks of violence, like those in Lebanon, Somalia and Bosnia. Libya, by contrast, is an offensive mission involving sustained bombardment of a government’s forces.

The closest precedent was the NATO-led air war over Kosovo in 1999. In that case, the Clinton administration’s legal team characterized the campaign, which involved many piloted American warplanes, as “hostilities” even though there was little exchange of fire from Serb forces after their air defenses were destroyed and there were no United States casualties.

In Kosovo, however, Congress appropriated specific funds for the mission before 60 days had passed. The Clinton administration decided that by providing the money, Congress had satisfied the requirements of the War Powers Resolution.

 

Source : http://www.nytimes.com/

US oil deal reveals real reasons behind Libya campaign

The first shipment of Libyan oil arrived to the US on July 8th, following a deal signed by the US and the Transitional National Council, the self-proclaimed legitimate government of Libya. The sale finally reveals the true reasons behind the NATO campaign, previously described as an attempt to provide security for Libyan civilians. The said civilians keep suffering, NATO forces keep trying to break the stalemate and America seems to be the only side of the conflict benefiting from the so-called “rescue operation”.  Meanwhile representatives of Arab and Western countries are meeting in the United Arab Emirates to discuss Libya’s future after the presumed end of Muammar Gaddafi. However Gaddafi doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to give up, which was clearly demonstrated by the lack of results of NATO bombardments of Tripoli.
A plan “to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas”, declared by the UN Security council resolution is failing miserably. However, while Libyan civilians suffer from the actions of both the rebels and government troops, Libyan oil is getting safely transported to America. As the US State Department confirmed on Wednesday, the rebel government in control of the eastern regions of Libya had made its first sale. The deal followed an April announcement by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department that established a new licensing policy with Libya. The US had to take this measure to facilitate oil-related transactions with the Transitional National Council.

According to a written statement from the State Department, Tesoro, a U.S. oil refiner, signed a deal with the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi, Libya for 1.2 million barrels of Libyan crude oil. The dollar value of the deal is still unknown.

The statement claims that the true reason behind the deal with TNC is an intention to support the Libyan people. However, one must be extremely naïve to believe that any Libyan person caught in the chaotic cross-fire would get a single cent out of this deal.

As the US is successfully solving its oil problem, Western and Arab leaders are preparing to decide the future of Libya. The members of the so called Contact Group – a coalition of various countries and international organizations that have officially recognized the TNC as the legitimate government of Libya – are to meet in the United Arab Emirates. It is the third meeting of the group tasked with discussing the potential development of the country after the end of the Gaddafi regime.

It’s a surprising fact that despite beginning of oil trade with the TNC, the United States has not recognized the new government of Libya. “We are still considering it but there’s no final decision as of right now,” said a US official, commenting on the possible recognition of the TNC.

While the members of the Contact Group are deciding the future of post-Gaddafi Libya, Gaddafi himself expresses no intention to give up his power. “We will not surrender, we will not give up,” the beleaguered leader declared in response to the intensified bombardment of Tripoli by NATO air forces. NATO has to face the fact that all of its strategies to end the conflict remain nothing but empty words, while the country sinks deeper into chaos.

The latest report of the UN Human Rights Council states that war crimes in the troubled country continue and that means the citizens of Libya keep paying a bloody price for European ambitions and American oil.

By : Vladimir Gladkov

Source : http://www.globalresearch.ca