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House Members Sue Obama Over Libya

(Photo: Pete Souza / White House)

House members announced on Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for his approval of US military action in Libya. The bipartisan ruling accused Obama of failing to consult with Congress before sending troops to intervene, thereby violating the War Powers Resolution.

“With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who led the anti-war coalition along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-North Carolina). “We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies.”

The suit contests the Obama administration's “circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad.”

In response to the suit, the White House defended the legality of the military mission in a 32-page report titled “United States Activities in Libya.” In the report, the administration stated that Obama did not violate the War Powers Resolution due to the “important US interests served by US military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions.”

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“The president is of the view that the current US military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because US military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the resolution's 60-day termination provision,” the report states.

The report also defended Obama's decision on the grounds that the US troops in Libya are not directly involved in the conflict, but are only there to support NATO forces. The military's actions “do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of US ground troops, US casualties or a serious threat thereof, or any significant chance of escalation into a conflict characterized by those factors.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that US military action in Libya has “had support from Congress in the past and we expect it to continue, because now is not the time to send mixed messages as we've had the success that we've had in that mission…. [Obama] kept his commitment to the American people to limit our involvement in Libya.”

Carney said the report would answer many of the questions that the House coalition posed and “continues a process of consultation that has been broad and deep and consistent.”

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate president pro-tempore Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Obama called the support for NATO's operation “crucial to assuring the success of international efforts to protect civilians and civilian populated areas from the actions of the Qadhafi regime, and to address the threat to international peace and security posed by the crisis in Libya.”

On Tuesday, Boehner sent Obama a letter stating that continued military action in Libya would violate the War Powers Resolution if it does not end on Friday, 90 days after the operation began. After the White House submitted its report, Boehner said the administration did not fully answer the questions posed in his letter to Obama or in the Kucinich-Jones group's lawsuit, and that he expects an answer by June 17.

“The White House says there are no hostilities taking place, yet we have got drone attacks under way, we're spending $10 million a day,” Boehner said during a press conference on Thursday. “We're part of an effort to drop bombs on Qadhafi's compounds. It doesn't pass the straight face test, in my view, that we're not in the midst of hostilities. It's been four weeks since the President has talked to the American people about this mission, and I think it's time for the President to outline to the American people why we are there, what the mission is, and what our goals are, and how do we exit this,” Boehner said.

The Kucinich-Jones group also includes Howard Coble (R-North Carolina), John Duncan (R-Tennessee), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), John Conyers (D-Michigan), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts), Tim Johnson (R-Illinois) and Dan Burton (R-Indiana).

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