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Obama Getting Heat From Left and Right for U.S. Role in Libyan Attacks

3 years ago
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President Obama is getting blowback from both sides of the aisle for taking military action in Libya without first formally consulting Congress. Debate in Washington heated up even before reports Tuesday that a U.S. warplane, patrolling Libyan air space, had crashed.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), a conservative member of the House Armed Services Committee, said Obama's "unilateral choice" to join a U.N.-backed coalition establishing a no-fly zone "is an affront to our Constitution," The Hill newspaper reported. The United States, Bartlett said, "does not have a king's army."

Meanwhile, a CBS News poll shows a full 50 percent of Americans approve of the president's handling of Libya.

Since the intervention started Saturday, U.S. Navy warships have launched Tomahawk missiles at Libyan air defenses, while American warplanes have joined other coalition aircraft in attacking military installations and some Libyan ground troops.

A U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet crashed late Monday near Benghazi, but its two crew members ejected and were rescued, the Washington Post and NPR said. Military officials said the plane apparently malfunctioned and was not shot down.

In the Senate, Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and a White House ally on some issues, said Congress should have a full debate on the objectives and costs of the U.S. role in the attacks. And Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, a moderate, said, "This isn't the way the system is supposed to work."

But earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned pro-intervention lawmakers that setting up a no-fly zone was a major undertaking that would have to begin with attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's anti-aircraft systems.

Traveling with the president in Santiago, Chile on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted Obama had consulted personally with congressional leaders on the Libyan situation. And last Saturday, Carney said Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough phoned top lawmakers "to inform them of the imminent action" about to happen. "We take very seriously the need to consult with Congress and we have been doing that," Carney said.

Under the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. But the president, as commander in chief of the armed forces, has authority to take military action in emergencies or in the face of threats to national security. Obama, who was winding up a Latin American trip Tuesday, insists no U.S. ground troops will be deployed and that leadership of the intervention effort will soon be turned over to NATO partners such as Great Britain or France.

For Rep. Dennis Kucinich, that's not enough to justify what the U.S. has done in Libya. The liberal lawmaker called it "an act of war" and said Congress should be called back from a spring recess to decide whether to continue the military action.

On the website Raw Story, Kucinich (D-Ohio) went further, calling Obama's move in Libya "an impeachable offense." The president "didn't have congressional authorization; he has gone against the Constitution, and that's got to be said," Kucinich maintained.

Kucinich noted that then-Sen. Obama argued in 2007 that "the president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Kucinich, who has twice run for president as an anti-war candidate, said he was not actually proposing impeachment proceedings but only "raising the question" as to whether grounds exist. In any event, calls for a president's impeachment -- often coming from the far left or the far right on Capitol Hill -- are not unusual. Kucinich himself sought to initiate an impeachment article against President George W. Bush in 2008, but then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi wouldn't go along with it.

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49 Comments

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vobox3343

Political Wrangling accomplishes little. President Obama has shown he's on top of the issues. Let him lead. Since November's elections the majority of Americans are realizing that the new Congress is totally clueless. Do what's best for us, Mr. President.

March 23 2011 at 3:58 PM Report abuse -105 rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

GOD BLESS OBAMA.

March 23 2011 at 2:49 PM Report abuse -108 rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

setting up a no-fly zone was a major undertaking that would have to begin with attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's anti-aircraft systems.= why do the ill informed critics have such a hard time understanding such a BASIS fact. Establishing a no fly zone without first eliminating the threat from anti aircraft weaponry would put all the aircraft establishing and enforcing the no fly zone. Please this is pretty basic stuff = plus such hypocrites are the critics, if an airplane was shot down then Obama would of been condemned for not attacking the anti aircraft installations. Sad that even in these times so many are not concerned about the world and lives and democracy but only POLITICS !

March 23 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse -56 rate up rate down Reply
fpfp040408

setting up a no-fly zone was a major undertaking that would have to begin with attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's anti-aircraft systems.= why do the ill informed critics have such a hard time understanding such a BASIS fact. Establishing a no fly zone without first eliminating the threat from anti aircraft weaponry would put all the aircraft establishing and enforcing the no fly zone. Please this is pretty basic stuff = plus such hypocrites are the critics, if an airplane was shot down then Obama would of been condemned for not attacking the anti aircraft installations. Sad that even in these times so many are not concerned about the world and lives and democracy but only POLITICS !

March 23 2011 at 2:13 PM Report abuse -49 rate up rate down Reply
Steve

So whats the joke of the day......the substitute president Jay Carney?

March 23 2011 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +32 rate up rate down Reply
marcatsb

I don't agree with the military activities in Afghanistan, but Libya is quite another matter. A wiser head than mine, Leonardo da Vinci, once wrote, "Those who see evil and do nothing command it to be done."

March 23 2011 at 1:30 PM Report abuse -18 rate up rate down Reply
nflamingo

Does anyone in Washington listen to the AMERICAN people?

March 23 2011 at 10:36 AM Report abuse +116 rate up rate down Reply
GEORGE

Hitler created propaganda to line up the conservatives to support his war plans and take over politics. Germany fell..

March 23 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse -33 rate up rate down Reply
homeroid2

Obama can only blame his origin and not Bush this time around.

March 23 2011 at 9:41 AM Report abuse +99 rate up rate down Reply
getachre

I am Democrat and voted for Obama. Now, I am thinking twice why I did .He is the same element like the Republicans who brought war and bad economy. He fooled us. We need to look other alternative than Republicans or Democrats. The people have to be in the Congress for new change not the haves. They have had it for 300 years it is time the working exercise their own fate and system than to trust those political gamblers. It is time to look some other alternative than to trust than those with oratorical gifted like Obama or Republican who are all the same set. Time to recall Obama. We lost many things during Obama, he never defend us when the right wing are taking over unions and wage cuts and many more issues.

March 23 2011 at 6:54 AM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

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