US lawmakers file suit over Obama`s Libya war

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers Wednesday sought to throw a roadblock in front of President Barack Obama`s Libya policy.

Last Updated: Jun 16, 2011, 00:18 AM IST

Washington: A bipartisan group of US lawmakers Wednesday sought to throw a roadblock in front of President Barack Obama`s Libya policy, filing a lawsuit that charges that US military operations are unconstitutional.

Anti-war Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich and nine other members of the House signed the lawsuit challenging the Obama administration`s circumvention of Congress in authorizing use of military force in a protracted effort to oust longtime Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

"With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies," Kucinich said in a statement as the lawmakers filed their suit in federal court in Washington.

The suit "challenges policy that any president can take the US to war unilaterally," said the lawmakers, who included Republicans Walter Jones of North Carolina and Ron Paul of Texas.

The White House has faced dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle in Congress, where lawmakers have warned that Obama may be falling afoul of a law aimed at curtailing US presidents` ability to deploy the military overseas.

Senators and representatives have also expressed concerns about how long the conflict against Gaddafi is taking, its impact on the turmoil in the Middle East and on US standing in the Muslim world.

Kucinich and Jones have been particularly vocal in charging that Obama failed to adequately consult Congress -- to which the US Constitution reserves the right to declare war -- before Britain, France and the United States started UN-authorized air strikes on March 19.

In late March, Kucinich said Obama had "subverted Congress and the United States Constitution" by ignoring the 1973 War Powers Resolution.
The law stipulates that, absent congressional authorization, a military withdrawal from a conflict must be initiated within 60 days and completed within 90 days. The latter limit will be reached on Sunday.

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, Obama`s top Republican critic, warned that the president may be in violation of the War Powers Resolution by this weekend unless he gets lawmakers` explicit approval for the Libya operation.

The House of Representatives recently passed a symbolic resolution chiding Obama for not seeking congressional approval for US involvement in Libya and giving him until June 17 to respond.

The White House has said it would soon issue a detailed report to Congress on Libya and the US military intervention.

In addition to stressing that Obama violated the War Powers Resolution, Wednesday`s lawsuit specifically questions the president`s policy of committing the United States "to a war under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)," or the United Nations, without authorization from Congress.

On March 19 the UN Security Council passed a resolution allowing for air strikes against Libyan regime forces in order to protect civilians. The mission is now under NATO command.

Bureau Report