Challenging the Obama Administration on Libya

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 3, 2011

Speaker Boehner has thrown down the gauntlet by telling the White House that in advance of a vote on the Pentagon appropriations bill, the Obama Administration must either ask for Congressional authorization of military actions in Libya, or must find a way to completely disengage. It’s an entirely reasonable request, especially when one considers that up until now, not only has the Obama Administration made no effort whatsoever to ask for Congressional authorization, but that Secretary Clinton actually went before Congress and stated that no such authorization was needed. (One really needs to be a bad reader of the Constitution to come up with such an absolutist position, and given that Secretary Clinton is a Yale-trained lawyer, she has no excuse for being a bad reader of the Constitution.)

Naturally, the Obama Administration tells us that we shouldn’t end the mission, but doesn’t tell us that the President is prepared to ask for Congressional authorization. Because presumably, he isn’t.

Again, it has to be emphasized how out of bounds this power grab is, how much it goes beyond any Imperial Presidency-ish moves on the part of the Bush Administration–which supposedly wrote the book on the expansion of Executive authority–and how many of the people who were denouncing the Bush Administration for its supposedly Imperial Presidency-ish ambitions are silent and acquiescent as Barack Obama makes Dick Cheney and David Addington look like pikers in the game of accumulating Presidential power.

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