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Obama's Libya Deadline

From NBC's Sylvie Stein
Once again, the overlapping war-making roles of Congress and the president have come into conflict – this time over U.S. operations in Libya.

Yesterday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter to President Obama demanding that he provide a cogent explanation for committing troops to Libya no later than Friday. If Obama continues involvement in NATO operations and does not comply with this deadline, he will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution, Boehner warns.

Sunday will be the 90th day since Obama notified Congress of U.S. military deployment to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, designed to protect the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) – now recognized by fourteen countries as the legitimate government of Libya – fighting Muammar Qaddafi’s regime. U.S. forces initiated the no-fly zone, with Obama saying he felt compelled to act because Qaddafi threatened to “show no mercy” to his own citizens who opposed him.

“The Constitution requires the president to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’ and one of those laws is the War Powers Resolution, which requires an approving action by Congress or withdrawal within 90 days from the notification of a military operation,” Boehner said in the letter.

Though the White House has obeyed the law by notifying Congress of the initial involvement in Libya, and by reporting – at more than ten hearing and thirty briefings – the status of U.S. commitment, the Obama administration never sought congressional approval.

“We are in the final stages of preparing extensive information for the House and Senate that will address a whole host of issues about our ongoing efforts in Libya,” White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Tuesday. He added that the White House will also explain what the Obama administration views as legal grounds for continuing operations in Libya without authorization from Congress.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain advised against undermining Obama in what could be a crucial moment in expelling Qaddafi.

“Let’s be very careful that the Congress does not say something… that would encourage Qaddafi to believe that somehow we have lost our commitment to him leaving office,” McCain said.