Libya War Not Really Legal Anymore

Remember that thing the Obama administration started a couple of months ago, something about "bombing the shit out of Libya"? No? Well it was right around the start of March Madness; perhaps you were distracted. But the Libya War, and America's military involvement in it, is still quite active. The only thing that's changed is that it's probably in violation of the law now.

Under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the president can only launch hostilities for 60 days without obtaining congressional authorization, otherwise it needs to stop. We're past 60 days in Libya as of this week, and no congressional authorization has been passed. The White House, instead of pushing for an official authorization, has been half-assedly asking Congress to pass a resolution for the last week or two. Neither chamber has bothered. So, yeah, this seems like a pretty clear violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution! Some members of Congress are protesting, but most are cowards who don't want their voting records anywhere near another war, even if they sort of like the war anyway.

It really is being treated that nonchalantly. From the New York Times:

Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution in 1973, overriding President Richard M. Nixon's veto, in an effort to restore its eroding role in deciding whether the country becomes involved in significant armed conflicts.

Since then, many presidents, citing their power as commander in chief, have bypassed a section that says they need prior Congressional authorization to deploy forces into hostilities, except if the country is under attack. But there is far less precedent of presidents' challenging another section that says they must terminate any still-unauthorized operations after 60 days. In 1980, the Justice Department concluded that the deadline was constitutional.

The U.S. is still conducting 25 percent of NATO sorties into Libya, keep in mind. And that's just the official government figure, as quoted by Secretary of State Clinton. The real figure, then, is probably more in the neighborhood of infinity billion percent.

So... hopefully things will work out in the end?

[Image via AP]