Washington (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama told reporters he does not have to answer the question of whether the War Powers Resolution is constitutional.
“There may be a time in which there was a serious question as to whether the War Powers Resolution was constitutional. I don’t have to get to the question,” Obama said during a White House news conference Wednesday.
“We have engaged in a limited operation to help a lot of people against one of the worst tyrants in the world, somebody who nobody should want to defend. And we should be sending out a unified message to this guy that he should step down and give his people a fair chance to live their lives,” Obama added.
Members of Congress from both parties have criticized Obama for involving the United States military in the Libyan civil war without congressional authorization. The matter was authorized by a United Nation’s resolution, which does not call for regime change. However, Obama and other NATO allies have said Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi should not remain in power.
The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973, as Congress overrode the veto of President Richard Nixon, requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30-day withdrawal period, without an authorization of the use of military force. Nixon contended the law was not constitutional.
“When you look at the history of the War Powers Resolution, it came out after the Vietnam War, in which we had had a million soldiers there, tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of millions of dollars spent, and Congress said, you know what, we don’t want something like that happening again,” Obama said. “I think that some consultation is entirely appropriate. But, do I think that our actions are in anyway violate the War Powers Resolution, the answer is no.”
More important than procedure, is the substance of the operation, the president said.
“I’d like to talk about the substance of Libya because there’s been all kinds of talk about process and congressional consultation,” Obama said. “Moammar Gadhafi, apart from Osama bin Laden, was responsible for more American deaths than anybody on the planet, and was threatening to massacre his people.”
While Congress has not declared war since World War II, most presidents have gotten congressional authorization for any lengthy military operation. However, other presidents have entered into conflicts without authorization from Congress.
Neither President Bill Clinton’s Kosovo war in 1999 nor President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama received congressional authorization. Under the previous administration, President George W. Bush secured congressional authorization for wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
The president went on to say Congress was consulted and that an American enemy was being confronted.
“Throughout this process we’ve consulted with Congress,” Obama said. “We’ve had 10 hearings on it. We’ve released reams of information about the operation. I’ve had members of Congress over to talk about it. So a lot of this fuss is politics. If you look at the substance of it, we’ve done exactly what we said we would under the U.N. mandate. As a consequence, a guy who was a state sponsor of terrorism against the United States of America is pinned down.”