The Obama Justice Department produced a 14-page document Thursday justifying President Obama’s war in Libya. The document claims: “The President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of military force in Libya because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest.”
The Justice memo fully embraces the President Bush administration view of Executive Power and directly contradicts then-Senator Obama’s 2007 statement that: “The President does not have 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.” On March 27th, Obama’s Defense Secretary admitted that Libya did not pose an actual or imminent threat to the United States and “was not a vital national interest to the United States.”
The DOJ memo also cites Senate Resolution 85 as additional authority for war:
On March 1, 2011, the United States Senate passed by unanimous consent Senate Resolution 85. Among other things, the Resolution “strongly condemn[ed] the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms,” “call[ed] on Muammar Gadhafi to desist from further violence,” and “urge[d] the United Nations Security Council to take such further action as may be necessary to protect civilians in Libya from attack, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory.” S. Res. 85, 112th Cong. §§ 2, 3, 7 (as passed by Senate, Mar. 1, 2011).
But as we reported on April 4th, the Senate was bait and switched into adopting this resolution. The no-fly language cited by the DOJ was inserted after an earlier clean draft had been circulated. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) then pushed for passage of the resolution before any version of the resolution was made public. The Senate never debated the no-fly language and no roll call vote was taken.
On Tuesday the Senate did reject an amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have adopted Obama’s 2007 statement as “the sense of the Senate.” Only nine other senators voted with Paul, all of them Republicans. This put all 53 Senate Democrats on record supporting President Bush’s view of Executive Power. The Senate still has not had a roll call vote, or debate, on Obama’s war in Libya.