Report: Obama overruled lawyers on Libya air war

By the Associated Press | June 17, 2011 | 10:13 PM EDT

Rebel fighters fire their machine gun towards pro-Moammar Gadhafi forces on the front line of Dafniya in Misrata, Libya, Friday, June 17, 2011. Provoked by renewed daylight NATO bombing of his capital, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi raged against the alliance Friday, screaming his message and daring Western forces to keep it up.(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The New York Times is reporting that President Barack Obama decided he could continue the air war in Libya without congressional approval despite views to the contrary from Justice Department and Pentagon lawyers.

The newspaper reported Friday in its online edition that the president relied instead on the opinions of other senior administration lawyers that continuing U.S. participation in the air operations against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi did not constitute "hostilities," triggering the need for congressional permission under the War Powers Resolution.

Presidents can ignore the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, the paper reported, but rarely do so.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.