Golfing While the Constitution Burns
Ben Johnson, The White House Watch
When Barack Obama and John Boehner played golf this weekend, they played
on the same team. How appropriate.
Barack Obama has violated the Constitution’s war-making power – reserved by
Article I, Section 8,
to Congress – from the moment he sent American troops into harm’s way without
Congressional approval. He has been violating the War Powers Resolution since at
least the 60th day of that campaign. And he has violated the most
liberal reading of that act – the one Boehner has adopted as his own – since
this weekend. Yet despite the letter
Boehner authored last week, which the media presented as an “ultimatum,”
Obama has neither obtained Congressional authorization nor removed our troops.
letter weakly supplicated “I sincerely hope the Administration will
faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution,” but at least it seemed to set
this weekend as a definitive cut-off point.
The “deadline” has come and gone, and Obama has not answered the most burning
questions of the mission’s legality to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, the
president has thumbed his nose at Congress in general, Boehner in particular,
and the American people at large, and the Speaker-cum-caddy has made no
meaningful response whatsoever.
Obama insists the American role in Libya is too diminutive to constitute
“hostilities,” so his action is perfectly legal. White House spokesman Jay
his boss’s party line at Monday’s press conference, stating, “the War Powers
Resolution does not need to be involved because the ‘hostilities’ clause of that
resolution is not met.” However, soldiers in Libya are receiving an additional
a month in “imminent danger pay.” American drones still rain missiles down
upon military targets. NATO is alternately
Muammar Qaddafi’s home and killing the innocent Libyan civilians they are
purportedly protecting. (We had to kill the civilians in order to save them?)
NATO admitted (at
least) one of its bombs went off target on Sunday, killing
nine civilians in Tripoli, while allied bombs allegedly killed
15 civilians in Sorman on Monday.
Not to worry, though; Defense Secretary Robert Gates said over the weekend,
in a confidence-builder worthy of Churchill, “I think this is
going to end OK.” Gates, who once
opposed the Libyan adventure, has pulled
a 180 on the matter.
Even Obama’s short-term fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, agrees
Libya more than rises to the level of hostilities.
So, too, we have learned, do the best legal minds of Obama’s administration
(not a coveted nor much-contested title, I assure you). In overruling
his own lawyers, Obama rejected the
considered conclusions of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel,
and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal
Counsel (OLC). The New York Times reported
it is “extraordinarily rare” for any president to overrule the OLC. “Under
normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding
on the executive branch.”
But then, nothing in the Obama administration transpires under “normal
Two former OLC lawyers outlined precisely how unusual the dismissal was….