Obama Overruled Two Top Lawyers on Libya

LIBYA BOMBSHELL: Obama Overruled Two Top Lawyers, Who Told Him War Must Be Terminated

Joe Weisenthal
Business Insider
6/17/2011

This week several members of Congress challenged Obama on the legality of the Libya war, given that actions have exceeded the 90 day period during which The White House doesn’t need Congressional authority for military action under the War Powers Act.

The White House response: We don’t need Congressional approval because this is not technically a hostile action (because we don’t have ground troops in Libya).

Tonight the NYT has a major bombshell: Two top lawyers — Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — told The White House otherwise.

Even Attorney General Eric Holder sided with Krass.

But rather than heed their advice, he instead went with two lawyers with views more favorable to him: Bob Bauer (who is internal at The White House), and State Department advisor Harold Koh.

This is striking:

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

No doubt this will only embolden the bi-partisan group of Congressmen who think the war at this point is illegal.

And of course one can only imagine how news like this would have gone down under the Bush administration.

All that being said, Obama does have the support of serious lawyers, and he himself was a constitutional lawyer, so the idea that just because Johnson and Krass opposed this decision doesn’t in itself end it.

But this is still tough.

For some context, see this American Conservative story (from last June) on the war philosophy of Harold Koh, a renowned liberal legal scholar who also has a history of justifying hostile activity…
Read the rest at Business Insider.

Related: U.S. Mayors To Push For First Anti-War Resolution Since Vietnam

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