Video: Dem Rep says Libya action “illegal”

posted at 12:45 pm on June 16, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Eliot Spitzer challenged Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) on his lawsuit against Barack Obama and American military action in Libya this morning on In The Arena, hitting the bipartisan legal fight on both pragmatic and legal grounds. Capuano tells Spitzer that he remains a supporter of Barack Obama, but that this is about more than just one particular President — and that Congress has to take part in these decisions. Capuano acknowledges that courts have been loathe to intervene in a way which essentially orders a President to disengage, but that these circumstances are extraordinary and unprecedented:

I’m not sure what Spitzer was thinking about Congressional actions in military operations. Both post-9/11 wars were authorized by Congress in explicit acts (AUMFs) that authorized the President to conduct military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first AUMF was even broader, authorizing a global war against al-Qaeda and nations that harbored or supported them. While it’s true that Congress hasn’t explicitly declared war in decades, they have authorized every military action since then, at least those which lasted more than a few days. Our involvement in the attack on Libya has dragged on for three months.

Precedent, then, won’t be a handy refuge for the President.  However, the odds of getting a court to order a withdrawal from the hostilities is nearly zilch.  For one thing, it would cross into our treaty obligations with NATO partners, a refuge that Obama has just recently begun to use.  For another, courts may be inserting themselves into war-fighting issues that don’t directly impact on combat situations, but it would be a highly extraordinary intervention indeed for a court to order a retreat under any circumstances.  The most a court might do is order Obama to seek Congressional approval and impose penalties for non-compliance.

That prompts another question, though, which is why Obama is so reluctant to seek Congressional approval in the first place.  Had he done so immediately, he almost certainly would have gotten it.  Obama would probably have gotten approval two weeks ago when the deadline was approaching, and still would be more likely than not to succeed if he asked for it now.  Congress would take some time to criticize his lack of respect for the co-equal branch, but in the end Congress would be just as loathe to order a retreat as the courts.  What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Obama:

“Hey…I kinda like this war stuff. And I got the biggest gun! Lets play on the Libya map for a while.”

BobMbx on June 16, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Speaking of Illegal:
Agents worried ATF program connected with Loughner gun

When news of Giffords shooting broke in January, Peter Forcelli, the group supervisor with ATF’s Phoenix field division, said that agents were anxious that the gun allegedly used by Jared Loughner may have been obtained under the guidance of the “Fast and Furious” operation.

“I received a phone call from my public information officer, who is a friend of mine, who said that there was concern from the chain of command that the gun was hopefully not a ‘Fast and Furious’ gun,” Forcelli said.

The gun allegedly used by Loughner was not purchased under the guidance of the program, according to law enforcement sources.

Insert witty screen name here on June 16, 2011 at 12:52 PM


Our France and Britian’s involvement in the attack on Libya has dragged on for three months.

We were only there for the first two weeks, then big bad brave Obama put us into a support role. THAT’S why it’s been dragging on for three months. Had we led the war all along, it would’ve been over by now and it wouldn’t even be an issue anymore.

Lesson for all future presidents – Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Tony737 on June 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

Being forced to realize that he’s President, not Emporer?

DrAllecon on June 16, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Is Capuano being ethical here or is he simply afraid of PBHO setting a precedent for future GOP presidents?

*flips coin*

Bishop on June 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Exit question: he waited to long and now he knows he screwed the pooch on this one….so he is doubling down

If a gop president EVER did this, the howls of impeachment would be echoing 24/7

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

That he will have to acknowledge that he started a war?

ladyingray on June 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM

. Congress would take some time to criticize his lack of respect for the co-equal branch, but in the end Congress would be just as loathe to order a retreat as the courts. What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

This plays into Obama’s biggest weakness. He is a pretty good campaigner and very good at giving speeches, however, he’s horrible at governing. Everything is his way or the highway, which leads to him being boxed in all the time. His hatred for conservatives and conservatism makes him refuse to work with them in any fashion because he feels like he’d be giving up his ideological belief and therefore the moral high ground. It’s his biggest fault.

cpaulus on June 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Illegal under the Unconstitutional War Powers Act, in the same way similar actions by Reagan, bush, clinton and every president since 1973 Liberal Democrat’s Unconstitutional War Powers Act legislation

http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/detail/the-war-powers-resolution-an-unnecessary-unconstitutional-source-of-friendly-fire-in-the-war-against-international-terrorism

The one, true Constitutional role Congress has is the ultimate power though. They can defund it and they could’ve done this months ago, why haven’t they? Where is the liberal ‘constitutionalist” like this guy and Rand Paul with legislation to Defund the mission?

jp on June 16, 2011 at 12:59 PM


… why Obama is so reluctant to seek Congressional approval …

The god-king needs no such “approval” from the representitives of his subjects.

Tony737 on June 16, 2011 at 12:59 PM

A constitutional scholar says ‘nothing more impeachable’ than going to war without authorization from congress. This hasn’t stopped bho before from doing as he darn well pleases and I doubt anyone in dc will follow through.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/nothing-more-impeachable-president-who-t
L

letget on June 16, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Obama isn’t afraid to let things get a little bloody (in Libya) when necessary.

Chickyraptor on June 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM

There is no way congress or the president will actually declare war. War would have to be defined to the nth degree and at that point the U.N. would declare human rights abuses. It is much easier for corrupt politicians to act in nebulous uncertainty.

fourdeucer on June 16, 2011 at 1:02 PM

A constitutional scholar says ‘nothing more impeachable’ than going to war without authorization from congress. This hasn’t stopped bho before from doing as he darn well pleases and I doubt anyone in dc will follow through.

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/nothing-more-impeachable-president-who-t
L

letget on June 16, 2011 at 12:59 PM

and he is dead, 1000000% wrong on this, another ignorant self-professed Constitutionalist.

some basic US History starting with George Washington on would dispell quickly this notion.

Meanwhile, Congress still has the ultimate power to stop the Lybian Mission, yet NOBODY IN CONGRESS IS TRYING TO DEFUND THE MISSION. This speaks volumes

Article II and the original intent by the framers is more important here, the WPA is Unconstitutional.

jp on June 16, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Lord Obama answers to no one…except George Soros.

vcferlita on June 16, 2011 at 1:04 PM

That he will have to acknowledge that he started a war?

ladyingray on June 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Winner.

See, Iraq & Afghanistan, he could just pass those off at George W. Bush’s wars. He didn’t WANT to be in them, but hey, he had to clean up Dubya’s mess, right?

Not Libya. This is allllllll his. Own it, Barry.

Vyce on June 16, 2011 at 1:04 PM

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/268973/obama-kills-war-powers-laugh-rich-lowry

Obama Kills the War Powers Act

rejoice in this, one Unconstituional Law Obama is actually killing, instead of creating. Which I no doubt know he would’ve been with the Far Left in creating the 1973 WPA legislation overriding a Nixon veto.

jp on June 16, 2011 at 1:04 PM

…he remains a supporter of Barack Obama, but that this is about more than just one particular President…

I vow my continued allegiance to you, My Lord Obama, but what if one of those nasty war-mongering Republicans managed to cheat their way through another election?

Drained Brain on June 16, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Frankly, what Spitzer knows about Congressional actions in military operations could be very easily dropped into a thimble and shook around to one’s merry heart’s content.

pilamaye on June 16, 2011 at 1:06 PM

@ladyingray: Bingo. He doesn’t seek approval because he couldn’t blame the war on Bush and his base’s growing suspicions would be confirmed.

Seth Halpern on June 16, 2011 at 1:07 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

We can all see, even the dimmest of the dim congress critter (which is very dim indeed) can plainly see the charlie foxtrot the libya frolic has turned into. Notice how skillfully I avoided using the word “mission” in the previous sentence.

One cannot use that word in reference to failbama’s escapade, his risky adventurism in Libya, because that mess doesn’t actually have much more planning than “lets blow shit up.”

BTW Bush had approval and look at all the storm of complaints and criticism he received.

Failbama now sees the dems deserting him. They see the writing on the wall too. 2012 is coming fast dems.

dogsoldier on June 16, 2011 at 1:09 PM

OT: Suspicious package found at Weiners office!

LOL!

VegasRick on June 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Obama got approval from the only authority liberals recognize….the UN. He is setting the precedent that the UN is higher than our Constitution.

GardenGnome on June 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM

OT:
Best headline ever on Fox just now:

Suspicious Package Found Outside Rep. Weiner’s Office

carbon_footprint on June 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM

ANYTHING SHORT OF A QADDAFI DIRT NAP IS A MISTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

/Saved Terp Mole the trouble.

Machiavelli Hobbes on June 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM

carbon_footprint on June 16, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Which makes me think about how the, oh so peaceful, Muslims will react to a fellow Muslim being subjected to the horrid practices of the West by our Jewish husband.

carbon_footprint on June 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM

Libya: The Golf War.

starboardhelm on June 16, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Exit question: he waited to long and now he knows he screwed the pooch on this one….so he is doubling down

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

That’s about what I figger too. He thought in Libya he could rip off some easy and quick political points. Then when he became mired down, true to form, he doubled down.

Dare anyone mention the “I” word?

petefrt on June 16, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Obama would have had no trouble getting a resolution through Congress when this first started. That he didn’t is unforgivable (and unconstitutional).

The President is derelict in his duty for not getting authorization from Congress, that’s the way our system works.

zmdavid on June 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

jp on June 16, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Wrong just because you say so? LOL. Actually he is correct.

dogsoldier on June 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

I-M-P-E-A-C-H-M-E-N-T

Lizzy on June 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Obama knows that unless the press raises a major stink about this or American personnel are harmed, no one cares.

Obama has about a 50% approval rating! No one cares.

albill on June 16, 2011 at 1:24 PM

Maybe Capuano feels it’s another time for the Unions to get a little bloody and do something about this!

The Right Scoop on June 16, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Does committing an act of war consitute a “High Crime?”

I would think dropping missiles into a foreign country on ones own might be construed as an act of war.

dogsoldier on June 16, 2011 at 1:25 PM

So what will come of the ten in dc who filed suit against bho for the ‘war’? Going no where?
L

letget on June 16, 2011 at 1:27 PM

WH rationale is that Odyssey Dawn is an extended remix version of Reagan’s ’86 El Dorado Canyon; or Bubbah’s Sudan/Afghan Tomahawk diplomacy.

Allahpundit: why Obama is so reluctant to seek Congressional approval in the first place.

Obama wants to provoke this crisis. I think Obama is allied with the Paulian-Kookcynic bloc in crafting this cynical hawk trap.

Barry is instigating (if not orchestrating) “both sides” outrage over mission creep– all the better to push new binding legislation on any future POTUS.

Progressives and neo-isolationist libertarians both desire cynical restraints on American power enacted by Congress. Imagine America reduced to defending ourselves with a pre-WWII Polish Legislature-in-Chief.

Will conservatives see this trap and counter it?

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 1:30 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

Responsibility? Just a thought.

tgharris on June 16, 2011 at 1:31 PM

petefrt on June 16, 2011 at 1:18 PM

boehner won’t….

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Machiavelli Hobbes: Saved Terp Mole the trouble.

Why can’t Paulian-Kookcynic Quislings wrap their addledpates 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.

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 1:35 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

A resurgence of the “peace” movement. It could bleed support from the left away from the President.

thuja on June 16, 2011 at 1:37 PM

It could bleed support from the left away from the President.

Wishful thinking. Not a chance.

There is only one Soros– and Obama is his profit.

Obama and Soros are allied with the Paulian-Kookcynic bloc in crafting this cynical hawk trap.

Barry is instigating (if not orchestrating) “both sides” outrage over mission creep– all the better to push new binding legislation on any future POTUS.

Progressives and neo-isolationist libertarians both desire cynical restraints on American power enacted by Congress. Imagine America reduced to defending ourselves with a pre-WWII Polish Legislature-in-Chief.

Will conservatives see this trap and counter it?

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 1:44 PM

“As a constitutional law professor himself, obviously he owns this document,” Carney says.

via politico

TOO FUNNY

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011 at 1:45 PM

What exactly does Obama fear from such a request?

….I think Obama would have to go on record with a plan, what this mission is supposed to accomplish,and what an “end game” is…..he does not want to do that.

Remember..his rationals for being in Libya have changed dramatically over the last few weeks.

…going from “Regime change would be stupid”…
………..to……”Regime change now our mission”

Not the actions of someone with a plan and instituting “smart power”.

…also this would put many democrats on the spot by having them on record supporting launching a war against an oil rich country..that did not attack us…and was not an imminent threat.
……….this is the antithesis of their stance and inflamed rhetoric concerning the Iraq war.
To spend 8 years calling Bush a “Warmonger” and accusing him of war crimes only to turn around and use his same policies while also launching their own wars is the height of hypocrisy.

Basically democrats are on the spot by being in the position of showing support for the President also means showing support for War….
………what will all these self righteous liberals do with all of their “War is not the Answer” Bumper stickers?????

Baxter Greene on June 16, 2011 at 2:01 PM

“As a constitutional law professor himself, obviously he owns this document,” Carney says.

via politico

TOO FUNNY

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011

And also really disgusting. Some of us are old enough to remember the fuss LBJ raised when he introduced the Chief Justice of “my Supreme Court” to some foreign dignitary.

Owns it my donkey. It’s the eoconomic mess that he now owns.

Drained Brain on June 16, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Frankly, what Spitzer knows about Congressional actions in military operations could be very easily dropped into a thimble and shook around to one’s merry heart’s content.

pilamaye on June 16, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Frankly, what Spitzer knows about Congressional actions in military operations could be very easily dropped into a thimble and shook around to one’s merry heart’s content would be like putting a BB in a boxcar.

FIFY!

belad on June 16, 2011 at 2:14 PM

This is a point that needs to be stated strongly regarding the new rules our “anti-war” crowd is coming up with to make it easier to wage war:
(via Instapundit)

http://thedignifiedrant.blogspot.com/2011/06/run-that-by-me-again.html

I do believe that under this logic, we could nuke somebody and not fall under the administration’s definition of war

I stated the same thing last night:

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

,

..just move those goalposts right out of the stadium…

All of these same conditions would apply if we were launching nuclear weapons at them.

What a bunch of corrupt,arrogant,hypocrites.

Baxter Greene on June 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

As outlandish as this may sound….it certainly is not preposterous under the new rules for War set up by Mr. Hope and Change.

It is beyond ironic that the same group of ideologues that shout “War is not the Answer” so loudly in the streets are the same people right now making war easier to wage.

Barack Obama launched a war from the beaches in Rio against an oil rich country,that did not attack us,and posed no imminent threat…..this administration has America helping wipe out a regime in another country without so much as a speech to the American people before hand.No Congressional approval….no debate….no input from the American people….
………..and the “Anti-war,rule-or-law loving liberals walk around chanting “4 more years” as they throw there support behind this.
What a joke…beyond pathetic…..and Very Progressive!!!!

Baxter Greene on June 16, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Does committing an act of war consitute a “High Crime?”

dogsoldier on June 16, 2011 at 1:25 PM

Depends on whether Congress says it is a “High Crime”.

JohnGalt23 on June 16, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said the Obama administration failed to answer all his questions about the U.S. mission in Libya and raised the possibility that the House would move to cut off funding for the operation.

Rebar on June 16, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Do it…stop this blatant abuse of Executive power.

Baxter Greene on June 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Terp Mole

You work for Daily Kos, don’t you?

Machiavelli Hobbes on June 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Drainedbrain,

I hear ya

cmsinaz on June 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Obama risks putting himself out there the same as GWB, a war starting President. He risks putting his Democrat lackeys having to say Yea or Nay. My Representative, Jay Inslee D-WA was all over the illegal Iraq war issue. I have called his office 4 times over the last 2 months asking for a statement regarding Libya, regarding the lack of authorization.

Still waiting.

AndrewsDad on June 16, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Obama summed up every decision he has made as president in the first couple months with two words:

“I won.”

So no one can question him. No one can rein him in. No one.

At least in his mind.

I am, however, encouraged that some are beginning to think otherwise and do something about it. THAT is a good sign.

UnderstandingisPower on June 16, 2011 at 3:12 PM

As I understand it, this suit is mainly to force the courts to clarify who has standing to bring a suit of this kind. If no one does then the president has a power that congress and the courts can’t check.

As for as our treaty obligations to NATO, Libya didn’t attack any member of NATO which is the only way NATO can launch an attack on another nation. They are violating their own charter.

I have to believe that the power of the purse isn’t the only tool at the disposal of the branch with the power to declare war. It seems to me that at some point a president must get congressional approval to wage war.

cartooner on June 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Machiavelli Hobbes: You work for Daily Kos, don’t you?

Saw someone who wrote like me while you were fetching Markos his coffee this morning?

Are any of you Kaddafi-kuddlers registered under FARA yet?

I hear Louis Farrakhan is hiring. Send him your resume.

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 4:26 PM

cartooner: Libya didn’t attack any member of NATO which is the only way NATO can launch an attack on another nation.

Wrong again. NATO isn’t attacking Libya– NATO attacked Kaddafi and his hired mercenaries. Kaddafi’s forces no longer represent Libya.

NATO forces are liberating the legitimately recognized Libyan government from a gang of terrorist thugs who have repeatedly attacked NATO.

Why do Kookcynic’s Kaddafi-kuddlers persist in peddling these obvious lies in support of terrorists and in violation of FARA?

Libya’s Justice Minister confirmed that Kaddafi (personally) masterminded Lockerbie. How many more NATO citizens must Kaddafi slaughter before non-interventionists 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?

There is no statute of limitations on mass murder of innocent citizens of NATO nations.

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

I don’t much care whether Kaddafi meets a US court or Mussolini’s fate on a meat-hook. But he (personally) must pay the price for his actions.

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

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 4:36 PM

cartooner: Libya didn’t attack any member of NATO

How many more NATO innocents must Kaddafi slaughter before non-interventionists 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?

Terp Mole on June 16, 2011 at 4:39 PM

Removing Kadaffy should have been done by the frog secret service.

Slowburn on June 16, 2011 at 7:21 PM

blink: Good question.

Ha! This coming from a serial Kaddafi-kuddler who should be registered under FARA.

Terp Mole on June 17, 2011 at 9:03 AM