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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Obama Knows Better Than His Lawyers (I am Shocked)

2 Top Lawyers Lost to Obama in Libya War Policy Debate
Published: June 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.

But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said there had been “a full airing of views within the administration and a robust process” that led Mr. Obama to his view that the Libya campaign was not covered by a provision of the War Powers Resolution that requires presidents to halt unauthorized hostilities after 60 days.

“It should come as no surprise that there would be some disagreements, even within an administration, regarding the application of a statute that is nearly 40 years old to a unique and evolving conflict,” Mr. Schultz said. “Those disagreements are ordinary and healthy.” More Here at New York Times


  1. Mr Obama has several legal opinions to choose from.

    Just as Mr Bush did.

    I think that Congress should have a say in the continuing operations, in the Mediterranean and across the Islamic Arc.

    The President disagrees, and he's a lawyer, too.

    Shakespeare told us how to handle lawyers. Rather extreme, but proof that lawyers have never been held in high esteem, by those that are not, lawyers.

  2. The War Powers Act does not mention financial threshold that has to be crossed, before the spending is considered tantamount to "hostilities".