On Wednesday (June 15), the Obama administration sent a legal opinion to every member of Congress concerning the application of the 1973 War Powers Act as it pertains to the war in Libya. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, who gained notoriety for writing legal opinions supporting drone attacks in Pakistan, said the act does not apply to Libya because the conflict does not constitute actual “hostilities” involving Americans.
I’m not sure what the administration considers bombing runs and missile strikes by Predator drones, but such actions are certainly considered “hostile” by those pulling the trigger and by the individuals on the receiving end. Given that the 60-day window a president is granted to initiate military action has passed, it’s time for this administration to break with past presidents and put the Libyan war up for a vote in Congress. This would only help the administration gain more credibility with the public, given that recent polls indicate most Americans want to see Congress vote on the Libyan conflict.
A vote would also serve a more important goal: restoring the rule of law to American military action abroad.
Editor’s note: On Friday, after this letter had been submitted, the House voted 295-123 to defeat a motion supporting the U.S. mission in Libya.