Yesterday, the US government launched a new round of airstrikes into Libya. While the Constitution mandates that Congress declares war, this new war is being waged on the “request” of the United Nations-created government of Libya.
The Constitution is quite clear on war power. Congress has the power to determine if the country will wage offensive war and against whom. Once that decision is made by Congress, the President is in charge of waging that war.
The power in question is delegated in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution:
[Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
According to a Pentagon spokesman, the Libyan “Government of National Accord” requested that the US begin airstrikes against what they claim is an ISIS stronghold in the Libyan town of Sirte, the birthplace of murdered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
As noted by Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, the legal authority for such a decision was an afterthought, as best.
At the 28:04 minute mark of today’s briefing on the airstrikes, one journalist finally asked the Pentagon spokesman under what legal authority these strikes were being conducted. The Pentagon spokesman replied that they were authorized by the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
This Administration claim is an incredible stretch — beyond the breaking point. Libya was not involved in any way with the 9/11 attacks on the US and ISIS did not even exist at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
None of the journalists followed up on the Administration’s claim of authority to attack Libya based on legislation targeting those who attacked the US on 9/11.
For decades, Congress has abdicated its constitutional requirement to declare war, and has unconstitutionally delegated this decision-making to the executive branch. This has been done in every foreign conflict since the Korean War.
But today, things are worse. Instead of leaving the decision to the executive branch, now it seems that a disputed foreign government has the power to “declare war” on behalf of the American people.
As far as the constitution, things couldn’t be worse.
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