Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End of The War Powers Act?

Once again, President Obama's administration says one thing, and does another. Jim Geraghty pointed out this editorial from Tuesday's Washington Post by Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway:

This week, the War Powers Act confronts its moment of truth. Friday will mark the 60th day since President Obama told Congress of his Libyan campaign. According to the act, that declaration started a 60-day clock: If Obama fails to obtain congressional support for his decision within this time limit, he has only one option — end American involvement within the following 30 days.

Obama has not only failed but he hasn’t even tried — leaving it to Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, to call for a “specific resolution that would give [the president] authority.” Neither the president nor the Democratic congressional leadership has shown any interest. They have been sleep-walking their way to Day 60...
...Make no mistake: Obama is breaking new ground, moving decisively beyond his predecessors. George W. Bush gained congressional approval for his wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bill Clinton acted unilaterally when he committed American forces to NATO’s bombing campaign in Kosovo, but he persuaded Congress to approve special funding for his initiative within 60 days. And the entire operation ended on its 78th day.

In contrast, Congress has not granted special funds for Libya since the bombing began, and the campaign is likely to continue beyond the 30-day limit set for termination of all operations.

Since the House of Representatives is out of session this week, Congress can’t approve the operation before the Friday deadline. But under the expedited procedures specified by the act, speedy congressional approval is feasible next week.

If nothing happens, history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking.

The administration intends to assert that operations in and over Libya are now under NATO command, and therefore American involvement is at an end. This is despite the continued American support. (And technically, since the US is part of NATO - aren't we involved as long as NATO is involved?)

Apparently, the War Powers Act was only intended to restrain Republican Presidents.

P.S.: Steven Hayward at The Corner adds:
"It hardly even seems worth the bother to point out how much the Left would be screaming about “lawlessness” if Bush were still on the scene. (There’s a an app for that now, isn’t there?)

So the War Powers Act now takes is place along side the Independent Counsel statute as a measure that liberals discard when it turns out to be applicable to Democratic presidents."