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View Diary: Obama needs to reframe Benghazi as Libya - and FAST! (44 comments)

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  •  Barack Obama argued against such an intervention (1+ / 0-)
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    Victor Ward

    in 08 and he was correct.

    But of course, on this issue we are far from being in a political vacuum. Obama's broadening of executive power comes with the backdrop of the George W. Bush administration's efforts to expand the president's ability to wage war. Indeed, the position taken by the Obama administration bears uncomfortable similarities to the one taken by John Yoo when he served at the Justice Department and argued -- in the wake of 9/11 -- that the Constitution granted the president practically unquestioned executive power to wage war. Yet, even Bush sought congressional approval for military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq; Obama didn't bother to do the same for Libya. In addition, Obama also overruled the opinion of his own Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) on the question of whether the president must abide by the War Powers Resolution in regard to the Libyan intervention. The OLC said he did; the White House assembled legal opinions that said he didn't -- and the latter view won out. As Bruce Ackerman, a law professor at Yale University, noted at the time, "Mr. Obama's decision to disregard that office's opinion [the OLC] and embrace the White House counsel's view is undermining a key legal check on arbitrary presidential power."

    So at a time when the door has been opened rather wide on unaccountable war-waging by the executive branch -- with minimal legislative checks and balances -- the Obama administration has opened it even further. What is perhaps most surprising is that it is being promulgated by a president who pledged as a candidate to put an end to such practices.

    As Ackerman said to me, Obama came into office with a golden opportunity to reestablish some modicum of restraint over the actions of the executive branch in the pursuit of national security. Ironically, in a Boston Globe questionnaire in December 2007, Obama specifically rejected the argument that he used, in part, to justify going around Congress on Libya. "The President," wrote candidate Obama, "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 ... History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch."

    From the standpoint of debate night strategy you may be right. But our policy there was, is, wrong.  Ask candidate Obama.

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    by divineorder on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 01:31:51 PM PDT

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