Primarily because success has been slower than expected, individual lawmakers, at both ends of the activist/pacifist spectrum, have criticized the president. Those who supported early intervention have complained about the United States’ withdrawal of its ground attack aircraft and helicopters from the battle. In response, the U.S. government agreed to deploy Predator unmanned air vehicles to the Libyan theater, temporarily quieting those critics.
At the other end, those in the House who initially opposed joining in the no-fly zone now want withdrawal of U.S. forces within 15 days. With continued participation, Obama has violated the War Powers Resolution, they argue. A House-Senate concurrent resolution encompassing that approach, introduced by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) with bipartisan support, was defeated Friday in a vote of 148 to 265.
A resolution, with no enforcement attached, did pass the House last week. It showed the good and the bad of Congress. Introduced by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), it was a mix of partisan politics and support for congressional authority. It may have even helped the White House. Without it, Kucinich’s resolution may have had a better chance.
Boehner’s resolution included criticism of Obama for not providing Congress “with a compelling rationale based upon U.S. national security interests.” It directs the secretaries of state and defense and the attorney general to provide within 14 days all documents created after Feb. 15 that relate to consultations with Congress about the Libyan intervention and the War Powers Resolution — a request that inevitably will raise questions of executive privilege.
It also carries a list of 21 items — for which it reports within the same 14 days — that range from “specific commitments made . . . to ongoing NATO activities regarding NATO,” to “justification for not seeking authorization by Congress for the use of military force in Libya,” to “the composition and political agenda” of the interim Libyan liberation council.