Steve Chapman

The War Powers Resolution does not contain a giant, honking exception for such activities. In fact, the authors seemed to have Libya in mind when they said the rules apply anytime American forces venture "into the territory, airspace, or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat."

It doesn't matter if our pilots are up there firing missiles or looking for topless beaches: If they are in combat aircraft over another country, the law applies.

But Obama apparently used his copy of the War Powers Resolution to housebreak the first dog. Rather than insult our intelligence with hair-splitting arguments about why the law exempts this undertaking, he has chosen to simply pay it no mind.

Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith told The New York Times that "this appears to be the first time that any president has violated the War Powers Resolution's requirement either to terminate the use of armed forces within 60 days after the initiation of hostilities or get Congress' support."

The administration has brushed off questions about its compliance with the law. But The Times says officials have said Obama "may order forces into limited military engagements on his own if he decides it is in the national interest, and that the NATO-led campaign in Libya is such a conflict."

Really? Can someone direct me to the provision of the Constitution that blesses "limited military engagements" authorized by the White House in conjunction with NATO? Or the section in the War Powers Resolution that says, "Invalid in cases when the president claims a national interest"?

The Constitution says the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed." But when Obama executed this law, he did it with a firing squad.


Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
 

 
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