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As, “days, not weeks” in Libya enters its fourth month, and now that the top U.S. admiral in Libya has admitted that the goal is regime change, despite this

“Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”

and this:

“Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, issued a statement acknowledging that President Obama would like to see a democratic government in Libya, but explained that the aim of the U.S. military’s intervention there is not to enact regime change.”

Glen Greenwald asks this question:

“Would this be an example of a President misleading the nation into an (illegal) war?  Or did the goal of the war radically change oh-so-unexpectedly a mere few weeks after it began?  Everyone can make up their own mind about which is more likely.”

Greenwald also has an explanation for the failure of Friday’s de-funding bill in the House. One that I hadn’t considered, but which makes sense:

“The so-called “de-funding” bill the House rejected yesterday was not really a de-funding bill.  It would have barred the spending of money for some war purposes, but explicitly authorized it for others.  That’s why… dozens of anti-Libya-war members in both parties voted NO on the de-funding bill: not because…they were cowards who did not have the courage of their anti-war convictions; and not because the bill would have approved some spending for a war they oppose (though that is true), but rather because they were worried (appropriately so) that had that “de-funding” bill passed, Obama lawyers would have exploited it to argue that Congress, by appropriating some money for the war, had implicitly authorized Obama to wage it.

As Ron Paul — echoing the spokesperson for House progressives — said in explaining his NO vote on “de-funding”, the bill “masquerades as a limitation of funds for the president’s war on Libya but is in fact an authorization for that very war…instead of ending the war against Libya, this bill would legalize nearly everything the president is currently doing there.

That was the reason so many anti-war members of Congress — including dozens of progressives — rejected the “de-funding” bill despite opposition to the war in Libya: because it was a disguised authorization for a war they oppose, not because they cowardly failed to check executive power abuses.”

And as Greenwald also points out, regardless of the outcome of the de-funding vote, the war in Libya is still illegal:

“Congress does not need to de-fund a war to render it illegal.  Under the law (and the Constitution), military actions are illegal if Congress does not affirmatively authorize them (either within 60 days or at the start, depending on one’s view).  The fact that the President has failed to obtain that authorization renders his ongoing war-waging illegal — period.  


Of course it’s true that Congress should act to stop a President who is waging a war in violation of the law and/or the Constitution, but Presidents shouldn’t wage illegal wars in the first place.  It is frequently asserted that Article II of the Constitution vests the President with the power and obligation to defend the nation, even though nothing in Article II (or any other provision of the Constitution) actually does that.  But there is an obligation which Article II does explicitly impose on the President: “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”  That includes, by definition, the War Powers Resolution (and Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution).”