Tag Archive: Libya

Jun 21 2011

War Powers, Impeachment & Obama

Has Barack Obama over-stepped his constitutional authority by continuing to participate in the Libya NATO action without congressional consent? Like George W. Bush ignoring the law banning water boarding as torture, Obama has decided to ignore the War Powers Resolution and the advice of two top lawyers from the Pentagon and his own DOJ. In the New York Times, Charlie Savage writes a scathing analysis of the president’s actions:

   President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

   Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

   But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team – including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh – who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

The question is could this open an investigation by the House to consider impeachment. Several other lawyers have their own views, none of them very pretty.

This stinging comparison from Jack Balkin at Balkinization of Obama’s decision to not consult with his own Office of Legal Council (OLC): George W. Obama and the OLC

It is instructive to compare President Obama’s actions with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who sought legal justification for his decision to engage in waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which constituted torture. Bush wanted above all to be able to deny that he was violating the anti-torture statute and other laws and treaties. So he found a small group of lawyers in the OLC, headed by John Yoo, and asked for their opinions. This short-circuited the usual process through which the OLC collected views from various agencies and then used them to develop legal opinions for the executive branch. That is, Bush (assisted by his Vice-President, Dick Cheney) arranged matters so that decisions about waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques would be in the hands of lawyers he knew would tell him yes; the normal process of collating opinions was short-circuited and other lawyers were effectively frozen out.

Obama’s practice is different, but it has disturbing similarities. Normally, Obama would have asked the OLC for its opinion, and as noted above, the OLC would have polled legal expertise in various agencies, consulted its precedents, had long discussions, and then come up with a scholarly opinion that is normally binding on the executive branch. Instead, Obama routed around the OLC, asking for opinions from various lawyers, including the White House Counsel and the Attorney-Advisor for the State Department. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that from the outset Obama was prospecting for opinions that would tell him that his actions were legal, and once he found them, he felt comfortable in rejecting the opinion of the OLC.

Obama’s strategy, like Bush’s, also short circuits the normal process of seeking opinions from the OLC; it simply does so in a different way.

At Lawfare, Jack Goldsmith has a similar view but adds:

This episode makes me wonder how all of this is being taken by the U.S. military.  It must be strange to many involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn to be told that not only are they not involved in “war,” they are not even involved in “hostilities.”  A midshipman at the Naval Academy wrote to cto say, in light of the original unilateral resort to force in Libya, that he wondered whether the soldiers fighting in Libya “are breaking their oath to obey only legal orders.”  I think this is a large overreaction to the initial use of force.  And despite my views of the WPR here, I do not think that disobedience would be a proper reaction to the President’s decision under the WPR.  The President gets to make the call and his decision is not so far out of bounds to warrant disobedience.  But it cannot be pleasant for the men and women involved in this “kinetic military action” to know that the Defense Department General Counsel and the head of OLC think the intervention in Libya as currently executed is unlawful.

Glenn Greenwald believes that Obama’s end run around the WPR may be even worse than the Bush/Cheney regime:

   All that aside, what is undeniable is that Obama could have easily obtained Congressional approval for this war – just as Bush could have for his warrantless eavesdropping program – but consciously chose not to, even to the point of acting contrary to his own lawyers’ conclusions about what is illegal.

   Other than the same hubris – and a desire to establish his power to act without constraints – it’s very hard to see what motivated this behavior. Whatever the motives are, it’s clear that he’s waging an illegal war, as his own Attorney General, OLC Chief and DoD General Counsel have told him.

In summing all this up, bmaz at FDL states:

Without saying Obama should be impeached, failure to at least have the discussion made in those terms is dereliction of constitutional duty by people, pundits and Congress. This critical issue is not yet getting that kind of play, but it should as it is absolutely why the founders placed the provision in the Constitution to start with.

If our society and political discourse cannot seriously discuss impeachment for the type of executive perfidy demonstrated by Barack Obama in relation to Libya and the War Powers Resolution, and could not discuss it during the Bush/Cheney crimes, then the impeachment provision of the Constitution has no meaning and should be stricken.

Seriously, those are the stakes. A discussion, even an investigation, does not mean there has to be an impeachment conviction, or even that articles of impeachment should even be filed. But the discussion must be had if there is to continue to be integrity to the most fundamental terms and conditions of the United States Constitution.

May 01 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – So, Who’s the Hair Apparent Now? (Special Appeal)

Crossposted at Daily Kos  and Docudharma



GOP Hair Apparent by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

Note: Sections 1-4 contain dozens of additional editorial cartoons and commentary.  I’m not sure why but I was getting the below error when trying to post the complete diary.  Check out the remaining portions of the diary at Daily Kos.

java.sql.SQLException: Incorrect string value: ‘xC2x8CxC2xA9=1…’ for column ‘extendedText’ at row 1

Mar 27 2011

The Curious Libya ‘opposition’

Crossposted from Antemedius

Who exactly are these rebels we’re supporting?

A short quote from a very exhaustive annotated article:

The so-called Libyan opposition itself is a hodge-podge mix of political opportunists, ex-CIA-trained Mujahideen guerillas such as Abdel Hakim al-Hasidi of the so-called Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who openly admits to close ties to al-Qaeda going back to Afghanistan.12 That certainly raises the level of incredibility of Washington’s most bizarre military crusade of recent times.

As well, the opposition includes former senior Gaddafi regime members who saw greener grass on the US, British and French-backed opposition side, and outright cutthroats who, encouraged by Washington, London or Paris smelled the chance to grab control of one of the richest lands on Earth.

Their “opposition,” unlike in Tunisia or elsewhere, was never “non-violent.” It was an armed revolt from the git-go, a war of tribe against tribe, not of surging aspirations for democracy. NATO member countries are being told by Washington to back one band of tyrants to oust another whose agenda does not comply with what the Pentagon calls Full Spectrum Dominance.

Mar 26 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – “I Have Here in My Hand a List of…”

Note: I kept getting errors about text being corrupted while trying to post the complete diary.  This is only half the diary.  There are many more sections and editorial cartoons in this diary that I posted over at Daily Kos.

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma



Peter King – Ghost of Hearings Past by Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

Mar 19 2011

War Du Jour, Part III

War, endless war.  Evidently, Iraq and Afghanistan, even taken together, cannot sate the US’s taste for armed combat and blood. No. Not a chance. Those are insufficient. Today we learned that the US was going to get involved in yet another war, a third one, this time in Libya, again complete with ill defined purpose, the possibility of massive and uncontrolled escalation, and no exit plans.  Yes, I know.  No ground troops are being committed. Yet. Right now. But this intervention is a lot more than just imposing a “no fly zone”.  Let’s call it what it is: it’s an open invitation for the US to get embroiled in yet a third, simultaneous, distant ground war.

Mar 14 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Unprincipled Zealots and March Madness

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

Clay Bennett

Moammar Gadhafi by Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Mar 01 2011

Obama Still Protecting US War Criminals

The Obama administration is still protecting US war criminals from prosecution in the International Criminal Court. A little noticed clause in the UN Security Council resolution that brought sanctions against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadafi and his regime forbids the prosecution of the mercenaries from nations which are not signatories to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which protects many of the mercenaries Gadaffi has hired to kill Libyan protesters.

“6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State;

That clause was inserted at the insistence of the US and was a deal breaker if it was not included. Why would the US do that? After all. hadn’t US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said that all those “who slaughter civilians” would “be held personally accountable”? Well, my dears, it is once again an attempt to prevent a precedent that would permit the prosecutions of Americans  by the ICC for alleged crimes in other conflicts.

So now while protecting US war criminals from justice. Obama is protecting the foreign mercenaries from countries who are not signatories to the ICC from accountability. Good going there, Mr. Rule of Law.

h/t Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com

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