Kettle, Hey, kettle. Hey, kettle.... Ya, Pot?
This week Congressional Republicans, through their fearless leader, the mild mannered man from the very middle American town next door to where I sit at this very moment, accused Obama of violating the War Powers Resolution (WPR) by committing troops to Libya for over 90 days.
I guess they are hoping we are all too brain addled to remember when Bush INVADED Iraq in violation of the WPR and of what limited authority Congress had given him for military actions there. An excellent argument is here which parses the language of HJR 114, giving Bush limited authorization for military force in Iraq, and demonstrates Congress never meant this resolution to authorize the invasion. Then House Speaker John Boehner called the WPR “constitutionally suspect.”
If Speaker Boehner (whose name originally rhymed with loner but was recently changed to rhyme with veiner, which is NOT the same as Weiner) were truly concerned with a WPR violation, he would have raised this complaint May 20th when the 60 day deadline passed for Congressional notice. However, that would have defeated the purpose of keeping public attention on the party candidates; Boehner and buds took advantage of an exception under which the President could have sought (but didn't) a 30 day extension for Congressional notice so they could issue this complaint by letter dated Tuesday, June 14th, the day after the June 13th Republican candidates' debate in NH. Wonder of all wonders.
On June 15 President Obama submitted a 32 page explanation for his authorization of military force in Libya which is now the debate of every constitutional lawyer and scholar, including the President's advisors. Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told President Obama they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the WPR, accepting this interpretation would have required the President to scale back "hostilities" until Congress authorized them. The President chose to reject these opinions in favor of those from White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities” and therefore required no Congressional approval.
So now House members are trying to figure out how to punish the President but his biggest problem is perhaps himself. When a senator, President Obama argued that Congress must have the "backbone" to stand up to presidents when they want to send troops to battle.
Whoops, there it is. A big old bite on the butt.