Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
At his press conference today, President Obama tried to brush off the problem he’s been having with Congress over the War Powers Act.
He initially tried to dismiss the gravity of the problem by saying, “A lot of this fuss is politics.”
And then he simply made an assertion that he was following the law, without defending that with any legitimate argument.
“Do I think our actions in any way violate the war powers resolution? The answer is no," he said. "We have engaged in a limited operation to help a lot of people against one of the worst tyrants in the world...and we should be sending out a unified message to this guy that he should step down.”
The former law professor seems to be having some serious eye problems because he’s failing to abide by the clear letter of the law.
First, the War Powers Act allows the President to send our military into hostilities only when there is “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces."
There was no such national emergency here. Libya did not attack the U.S.
Second, the War Powers Act requires the President to get authorization of Congress within 60 days. He did not get such authorization.
And third, the War Powers Act requires the President to withdraw our armed forces 30 days later if he doesn’t get authorization. And he has not withdrawn our armed forces from the Libyan operation.
Calling it a “limited operation” doesn’t render the War Powers Act null and void.
Nor does saying the action is against one of the “worst tyrants in the world.”
And Obama’s insistence that we send “a unified message” is the same undemocratic claptrap that we hear from every war President who wants the Congress and the citizenry to shut up and keep silent and not dare question his royal judgment.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Prosser Should Resign from Wisconsin Supreme Court."
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