WH to Congress: The War Powers Act doesn’t apply to Libya because we’re not engaged in “hostilities”

posted at 5:05 pm on June 15, 2011 by Allahpundit

So predictable that even a dummy like me saw it coming.

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 drones operated 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 Counsel 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.”

In fact, we’re really not “constrained” by the UN’s Libya resolution. That’s why it was big news last week when NATO finally admitted that it’s targeting Qaddafi after spending the past three months insisting that it was only acting to protect Libyan civilians. There’s no “constraint” if the meaning of the resolution can change at the coalition’s whim, and since when is congressional oversight of U.S. military action satisfied by UN constraints anyway? But never mind that. The bigger issue, per the boldfaced bits, is that the White House is actually offering three distinct rationales for why the WPA might not apply. Do all three need to obtain in order to render the Act inoperative or will any one suffice? I doubt even Obama is hubristic enough to send ground troops into battle without congressional approval, so the “no forces at risk” condition is mandatory. Not sure about the other two, though. What happens if France and Britain decide to end the mission, forcing NATO to hand things back over to the U.S., and O elects to ramp up the drone strikes in an all-out bid to topple Qaddafi? There still wouldn’t be any forces at risk, but the “support role” and “no chance of escalation” conditions would be violated. Where would that leave us in terms of deciding whether the WPA applies?

Whatever. They’re doing this not because they feel duty-bound to explain but because Boehner put them in a bind yesterday at a moment when there may, finally, be light at the end of the tunnel for the mission. The rebels are advancing towards Tripoli under cover of NATO air power and, according to David Ignatius, an envoy sent by Qaddafi’s intelligence chief is prepared to offer a deal in which Qaddafi would cede power and “retreat into the desert” in return for sparing his life. O’s probably hoping/expecting that his “no hostilities” argument will give Boehner enough political cover to hold off on legal action for a few more weeks until we see how things shake out on the ground. Not everyone in the House is prepared to be so accommodating — below you’ll find video of Kucinich and a few others announcing their intent to sue The One over the WPA — but my guess is that that suit will fail under the “political question” doctrine anyway, so Boehner will be in no hurry to join it. One question I’m left with: What’s the difference, according to the White House’s War Powers logic, between what we’re doing in Libya right now and what we’re doing in Yemen? Special Ops has been using drones and remotely piloted planes in Yemen for years; CIA drones are set to join the battle soon to provide more firepower against Al Qaeda. So while there are no U.S. forces at risk, the mission is escalating and we’re not in a support role. Does that mean the WPA does or doesn’t apply? Or is it the White House’s position that the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force passed after 9/11 lets it go after AQ anywhere, in perpetuity, so that a new congressional authorization isn’t needed?

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blink boasted: I destroy validate every argument you try to make.


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM

blink boasts: A preponderance of the evidence is certainly the only burden of proof I need

blink needs to introduce evidence– cite something once in awhile.

blinky never “proves” anything– specious self-referential denials are not proofs. Quite the contrary, blinky’s gratuitous assertions have been repeatedly rebuked by cited facts, as anyone reading this thread can plainly read.

Grade: F- (miserable failure)

/dismissed (yet again)

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

blink drooled: It’s funny that you think I’m mocking mentally disabled folks by labeling YOU as mental disabled.

These puerile exercises in psychological projection don’t interest anyone.

*stay classy*

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 11:49 AM

blink whined: Provide us with an analysis that indicates that Gadaffi is a bigger threat to national security than the rebels

Since I deal in evidence (not specious denials), I am always happy to oblige: Just how many more innocents must Kaddafi slaughter before Kaddafi-kuddlers stop defending this terrorist klan?

Munich Olympic Massacre
Constable Fletcher Murder
Rome/Vienna Airport Massacres
Berlin Discoteque Massacre
TWA840 massacre
PA73 massacre
PA103 Massacre
UTA772 Massacre
IRA proxy massacres
Libyan opposition massacres
Abdullah targeting plot
EU Nurse Prison Rape-Extortion
Swiss hostage extortion
More Libyan opposition massacres

Nemo me impune lacessit?

Kaddafi declared jihad on NATO– not the other way around.

Just as the Allied Powers taught the Axis in multiple theatres, NATO can (simultaneously) walk, chew gum and play ukulele.

Wishing NATO had only two fronts in this global conflict is a formula for defeat. National will (and the moral courage to exercise) are necessary predicates for victory in this long war.

Try harder to avoid parroting Kaddafi’s siren songs of defeatism.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM

blink validates: who are the rebels Libyan National Council exactly?

FTFY… but you know exactly who are now the legitimately recognized representatives of Libya.

Kaddafi-kuddling will not avail you, flame of Udun.

/you’re welcome

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:18 PM

blink whined: Stop pumping the rebels’ Libyan National Council cause

Why? Have Louis Farrakhan and Cynthia McKinney threatened to cut off blink’s Kaddafi-kuddling kampaign funds?

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:21 PM

blink validated: Gaddafi is a known terrorist

I thought Kaddafi was fighting al-Qaeda?

Make up your mind.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Kaddafi-kuddler drooled: jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire in Libya.

That broken fiddle was played out in Iraq.

Fortunately, NATO powers didn’t listen to it there either, which is why Iraq is the only Arab country that applauded UBL’s death.

Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said he was “delighted,” by Bin Laden’s passing and called it a “major blow” to Al Qaeda.

“We, like many people in the world, are delighted to see an end of this man and his devious ideology,” he said. “Al Qaeda will not disappear as such, but it is a major blow to the organization.”

*you’re welcome*

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Give it up, kuddler.

You can’t beat the champ!

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:35 PM

blink: Get back to me when the US recognizes them

We’ll get NATO right on it, kuddler.

kuddler validates: I destroy validate your arguments in every single Libya thread.


/dismissed (again)

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM

You can’t beat the champ!

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Obama didn’t declare war.

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Oh yes, he instead declared… Kinetic Military bullshit. Which means we’re dropping bombs on you, killing your people, trying to kill you; but don’t be mad this isn’t really WAR as such.

We’re just trying to kill you… no biggie.

Can you explain how this non-war dropping bombs, killing troops, and trying to overthrow a country differs from a war?

It’s not war because they can’t fight back? Like the President wouldn’t need approval to Nuke Nicaragua… that wouldn’t be a war… or something.

Err… because they don’t really have a military to match ours? So we can invade like 2/3rds of the world without it needing to be called a “war” and get approval.

Would you like to explain why this killing of another country’s troops on their soil in an attempt to overthrow their government isn’t “war”?

Let me guess… the President can have our troops fight on foreign soil indefinitely; so long as he doesn’t use the magic word “war” everything is good?

Oh wait, it’s an extension of El Dorado Canyon… or something.

So the War Powers act allow a President 60 days, plus 30 to pull troops back if authorization isn’t given… El Dorado canyon took how long? About 12 minutes from start to finish… so Reagan didn’t really come that close to the 60 day limit did he?

But yes, Clinton’s bombing of Sudan should count… which all happened in one day. Clearly that’s exactly the same as having troops in a foreign country and attacking their troops for over 60 days… or something.

Would you like to try again? Maybe compare this to things that took 2 months, required troops, had us killing foreign troops on their soil, and didn’t require authorization?

Or keep comparing horseapples and oranges.

gekkobear on June 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Kaddafi-kuddling will not avail you,

Really? Kaddafi si bad, so we must support the rebels; even if they are Al Quaeda terrorist sympathizers who will immediately run on the Great Satan that is the USA next?

And anyone who even questions if the rebels will be better must be evil on your mind?

Damn, never mind then. Sorry I engaged you if this is your opinion… I’ll be sure to avoid talking to you in the future if you’re no more serious, reasonable, or rational than this.

gekkobear on June 17, 2011 at 1:01 PM

gekkobear: Kaddafi si bad, so we must support the rebels Libyan National Council


That would appear to be the Faustian bargain that presents itself.

Cheer up. It didn’t work out so bad Iraq, afterall.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 1:39 PM

blink: Is this supposed to mean that NATO is going to pressure the US

No, it means I’m certain NATO’s highest priority is getting back with you.

Get over yourself.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 1:48 PM

blink lied: Terp Mole has some serious passion for supporting Obama on Libya

I consistently support the Bolton doctrine— not Obama.

Try harder to avoid lying about my positions, Kaddafi-kuddler.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM

blink validates: I’m here to counter, neutralize, and destroy propagate every lie


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM

blink spat: mentally handicapped

More psychological projection? That’s all binky has in the end.

Congrats for openly mocking mentally disabled folks. That pathetic ad hominem makes binky slightly more classy than Barry “Short Bus” Obama or his “F’n retard” former Chief of Staff to discuss politics.

*stay classy*

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 1:56 PM

binky lies (again): Bolton’s position on this action doesn’t conflict with Obama’s.

Bolton’s position conflicts substantially with Obama, binky. Obama refuses to declare regime change our objective.

Why can’t Kaddafi-kuddler wrap its micro-cephalic brains around the Bolton doctrine?

“First, we must reverse course now and declare regime change to be our objective… Second, because Libya’s opposition leadership is still inchoate at best, we must identify anti-Gadhafi figures who are pro-Western and find ways, overt or covert, to strengthen their hands.”

Kaddafi has publicly VOWED to resume targeting civilian airliners.

If Americans learned anything from 9/11, it’s that we can’t afford to wait for terrorists to follow through on their threats.

America now has a duty to bring Kaddafi to justice; or justice to Kaddafi.

I don’t much care whether Kaddafi meets a Predator drone or Mussolini’s fate on a meat-hook. But Kaddafi (personally) must answer for his actions.

Mark these words: Anything short of a Kaddafi dirt-nap will be a grave mistake.

binky validates: I’m here to prevent your peddle lies, logic errors, and inconsistencies


You can’t beat the champ!

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:02 PM

binky mocked: it’s funny

OK. We get it. binky think calling others “mentally handicapped” is funny.

Good for you.

*stay classy*

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:04 PM

gekkobear whined: I’ll be sure to avoid talking to you in the future if you’re no more serious

Yeah well, you know thats just like, your opinion, man.

I accept that confession of inability to address cited evidence as an admission of intellectual bankruptcy.

Grade: F- (miserable failure)


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:09 PM

binky whined: Is that the big difference!?!?!

Do you need a few more exclamation points?

Q: How do you identify an authentic specimen of spittle-flinging idiotarianism?

A: When they equate John Bolton with Obama.


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:15 PM

binky validates: You continuously bomb provide these threads with lies and logical fallacies cited facts.


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:17 PM

binky spat: mental handicap



Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:19 PM

binky clarified: Bolton’s position on this support Obama

What, no exclamation points?

Q: How does one identify an authentic specimen of spittle-flinging idiotarianism?

A: When they assert that Bolton supports Obama.


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:22 PM

binky validates: You continuously lie about CITE the facts and links


Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Q: How does one identify an authentic specimen of spittle-flinging idiotarianism?

A: When they assert that Bolton supports Obama.



Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:29 PM

…sweet, sweet victory!

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Q: How does one identify a REALLY authentic specimen of spittle-flinging idiotarianism?

A: When they CONTINUE asserting that John “Kill Qaddafi” Bolton… bwahahahaha!!… “supports Obama.”

…stop it… my sides are splitting…

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Good jop the crew of the F15 that stopped flying for non combat reasons landed near the rebels and not the government forces.

davod on June 17, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Q: How does one confirm a museum-piece exhibit of drool-cup sporting idiotarianism?

A: When it asserts 3X! that John “Kill Qaddafi” Bolton… “supports Obama.”

binky credibility: 0.00


Terp Mole on June 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM

binky lied: Bolton’s position absolutely supports Obama’s actions

Bolton’s position (“reverse course“) conflicts substantially with Obama– in particular in respect to our objective.

Why can’t Kaddafi-kuddlers wrap their micro-cephalic brains around the Bolton doctrine?

First, we must reverse course now and declare regime change to be our objective…

Bolton supports Obama’s position– by demanding their reversal!

binky credibility: -10 (and falling)

Terp Mole on June 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Do Americans have any 1st Amendment right to propagandize on behalf of terrorist groups, even when the subject is (merely) blog posting? Anti-terrorism laws made that kind of assistance illegal, calling it “material support” for terrorism itself. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld the law in a 6-3 decision that stopped an aid organization from consulting with the PKK.

The Supreme Court has upheld a federal law that bars “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, rejecting a free speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups.

The court ruled 6-3 Monday that the government may prohibit all forms of aid to designated terrorist groups, even if the support consists of training and advice about entirely peaceful and legal activities.

Material support intended even for benign purposes can help a terrorist group in other ways, Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion.

Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,” Roberts said.

The Kaddafi klan would be one such example. Kaddafi’s klan have conducted numerous terrorist massacres of Americans.

Propagandizing for Kaddafi to support his terrorism would allow Kaddafi to use money elsewhere and allows Kaddafi to not have to dip into the propaganda funds for his terrorist activities.

So, a big thank you to all the Kaddafi-kuddlers for making it easier for Obama’s NSA to track your URL and Holder’s Justice Department to prosecute your material support propaganda campaign.

*Great job, Quislings!*

Terp Mole on September 1, 2011 at 9:41 AM