Members of Congress Sue President Obama On Libya War
The lawsuit against President Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates also contends that the U.S. has ignored the African Union, which has opposed the NATO bombing mission in Libya.
[National News: Libya]
Lawsuit Challenges President and Notes Efforts To Kill al-Quathafi
Ten members of the United States Congress today filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama alleging that he didn't get Congressional authority before involving the U.S. military in the war on Libya.
The lawsuit also notes NATO's attempts to kill Muammar al-Quathafi.
The members of the House of Representatives claim the president introduced the U.S. military into the Libya war, which is now being carried out by NATO forces, in March, in violation of the U.S. War Powers Resolution which seeks to curb the ability of a president to unilaterally engage the U.S. military in wars.
The lawsuit against President Obama and U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates also contends that the U.S. has ignored the African Union, which has opposed the NATO bombing mission in Libya. The lawsuit also contends the U.S. actually has personnel on the ground since CIA agents are in Libya advising the rebels.
"The President cannot unilaterally take the country to war," Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) told The Black Star News. "The American people have grown weary of open-ended military conflicts that place our troops in harm’s way and add billions to our national debt. This is one of the reasons why the President initially limited the scope of our military presence in Libya to exclude the use of American ground troops."
The lawsuit also claims the president went around Congressional authority by using the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) "to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution."
The lawsuit also shows that the NATO operations now extend beyond the no-fly zone mandate authorized by the United Nations Resolution 1973.
"While first enforcing a no-fly zone, the U.S. soon began bombing Libyan assets such as airfields, armored forces, and strategic sites," the lawsuit reads. "The Administration and its allies later began close combat support and open assistance of the rebels in their ground operations. Most recently, Western operations (with U.S. support) have included efforts to kill Gaddafi and have succeeded in killing members of his family."
"The Libyan operations include efforts to kill Libyan leader Gaddafi and force a victory on the side of the rebels aligned with the United States and NATO," the lawsuit contends.
The lawsuit also notes that "the Libyan rebels have been accused of war crimes by U.N. investigators, including but not limited to torture."
In addition to Rep. Conyers, other lawmakers who've signed on to the lawsuit are: Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Howard Coble (R-NC), John Duncan (R-TN), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), John Conyers (D-MI) Ron Paul (R-TX), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Tim Johnson (R-IL) and Dan Burton (R-IN).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Federal Court in the District of Columbia and the plaintiffs want the court to declare the U.S. role in the Libya war "unconstitutional."
The lawsuit contends the U.S. has already spent $750 million on the Libya war and seeks to bar the president from using any more funds, including those already approved for purposes other than the Libya war, such as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, which are meant for operations directly related to the global war on terror.
"It is the policy of the Obama Administration that it may use previously appropriated funds for an undeclared war in contravention of both the Constitution and federal law," the lawsuit reads. "Such use of funds is a misuse of federal funds in violation," of relevant articles of the constitution.
The White House contends the president is not in violation of the War Powers Resolution and lawyers have drafted an argument to support the president's position.
“We are acting lawfully,” Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, was quoted saying in The New York Times today, in reference to the U.S. role in Libya being barred by the War Powers Resolution. “We are not saying the president can take the country into war on his own,” the Times quoted Koh saying.
Yet the argument offered by Koh almost sounded preposterous: “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.”
In Cambell vs. Clinton, the US Supreme Court during the Clinton Administration dismissed a case against the war on Yugoslavia. The justices said that the plaintiffs in that case - also members of Congress - lacked standing to sue the President over his making of war, even if he was doing so illegally.
The political fallout may be more enduring than the lawsuit itself as an increasing number of lawmakers are moving against the war as U.S. public opinion sways against it.
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