Janet M. LaRue

"If the administration believes that any, any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority."

Nor did Sawyer ask Clinton to explain how she squares Obama's use of military force against Libya with his statement as a presidential candidate in 2007 denying presidential authority to do so. According to Charlie Savage reporting for The Boston Globe, Obama said:

"The President does not have authority 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. As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent."

Despite all of Obama's assurances that the mission is "limited" within the confines of UN Resolution 1973, his description of it on March 18 is broader than enforcing a "no-fly zone":

"It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing, to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. It also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the Gaddafi regime."

Clinton also described it as "very broad":

"The United Nations Security Council resolution was very broad but explicit about what was legally authorized by the international community. And we are a hundred percent committed to enforcing it and helping others enforce it. There is nothing in there about getting rid of anybody. It is about protecting civilians, providing humanitarian assistance, but also enabling nations to use whatever means necessary in order to bring that about."

Whether Gaddafi will remain in power remains a mystery because of all of the inconsistent statements that have come from the White House, coalition partners, the Department of Defense, Clinton and military commanders.

Clinton announced on March 24 that NATO is assuming "command and control" of the military action. But there's another inconsistency. NATO hasn't agreed to assume responsibility for protecting the Libyan population as well.

Furthermore, relinquishing command and control doesn't mean that the U.S. military won't continue to bear the burden of the military action, that U.S. taxpayers won't foot the bill, or that the U.S. will escape responsibility if Libya continues to be a civil war with civilian casualties.

•What is the goal of the "kinetic military action?"

•What would victory mean?

•Is Gaddafi in or out?

•What is the U.S. policy at play?

•Will we use military force to stop potential humanitarian crises in other countries?

•How will it be funded when we're trillions of dollars in debt?

The Secretary General of the UN demands an immediate account of all action taken pursuant to the Resolution. It's past time for Congress to get answers from the commander in chief.


Janet M. LaRue

Jan LaRue is Senior Legal Analyst with the American Civil Rights Union; former Chief Counsel at Concerned for Women; Legal Studies Director at Family Research Council; and Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families. Be the first to read Janet LaRue's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.