President Obama has responded to Speaker Boehner's request with a letter regarding the war powers resolution and a detailed report on military action in Libya.Â The bottom line: the President believes that the action in Libya is not covered by the War Powers Act, but he supports adoption of the bipartisan resolution authorizing military force in Libya drafted in the Senate.
Yesterday the President released this Letter from the President on the War Powers Resolution summarizingÂ U.S. military action around the world.Â With respect to Libya the letter states:
As I reported on March 21, and at my direction, consistent with a request from the Arab League, and as authorized by the United Nations Security Council under the provisions of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, U.S. military forces commenced operations on March 19, 2011, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya and to protect the people of Libya from the Qadhafi regime. The initial phase of U.S. military involvement in Libya was conducted under the command of the U.S. Africa Command. By April 4, however, the United States had transferred responsibility for the military operations in Libya to NATO and the U.S. involvement has assumed a supporting role in the coalition's efforts. Since April 4, U.S. participation has consisted of: (1) non kinetic support to the NATO led operation, including intelligence, logistical support, and search and rescue assistance; (2) aircraft that have assisted in the suppression and destruction of air defenses in support of the no fly zone; and (3) since April 23, precision strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against a limited set of clearly defined targets in support of the NATO led coalition's efforts. Although we are no longer in the lead, U.S. support for the NATO based coalition remains 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. With the exception of operations to rescue the crew of a U.S. aircraft on March 21, 2011, the United States has deployed no ground forces to Libya.
The administration also released a 32-page report entitled United States Activities in Libya posted by the Huffington Post.Â Â This report describes the political and military objectives, costs,Â impact on other military operations, theÂ Interim Transitional National Council whom we are supporting, an analysis of the legalityÂ of the intervention, Â an expression of support for the bipartisan resolution drafted in the Senate, and an appendix of classified material including "Importance of U.S. Military to Opposition Groups," "Assessment of Opposition Military Groups," "Coalition Contributions to NATO Mission," "Assessment of Extremist Groups in Libya," and "Threat Assessment of MANPADS, Ballistic Missiles, and Chemical Weapons in Libya."Â
The legal analysis in the report essentially repeats the arguments from the brief by Carolyn Krass of the Office of Legal Counsel set forth in yesterday's post.Â At page 25, the report states:
Given the important interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope, and duration of the anticipated actions, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander-in-Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military actions abroad.
Professor Huhn has taught Constitutional Law at the University of Akron for over a quarter century. You may access his websites on Constitutional Law and Health Care Financing Reform for additional materials and information about those subjects. Drafts of his scholarly work are available from his author page at ssrn: http://ssrn.com/author=83790