Back when the Cold War was still perking along, Ronald Reagan wanted to support the Contras fighting the Marxist Sandanista dictatorship in Nicaragua. The Democrats in Congress passed something called the Boland Amendment, which barred the administration from providing support for the Contras using any ''funds available to ... any ... agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities.'' (Why?) The Iran-Contra scandal grew out of an administration attempt to end run the Boland Amendment.
Back in 1987, the effort to bypass the Boland Amendment caused Harvard Law prof Laurence Tribe to have a cow in the New York Times:
... the White House also insists that however active a role the President played in efforts to encourage private and foreign assistance to the contras from sources outside the Iranian arms deal, no law passed by Congress either attempted to, or could, restrict his freedom to deploy his own office, or the offices of his National Security Council, to obtain third-party support for the contras. ...
... the President - if his latest ''recollections'' are accepted - either encouraged entities involved in intelligence to circumvent the amendment or, at the very least, did not ''take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed'' by such entities, as Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires.
In other words, if the puppets are subject to the law and violate it, the puppet master cannot escape accountability. ...
Therein lies what appears to be the most serious breach of duty by the President - a breach that may well entail an impeachable abuse of power, however politically unlikely impeachment of this affable officeholder may be.
The Constitution is, after all, indifferent to popularity and blind to personality. Yet, stripped of its technical camouflage the latest White House position ultimately reduces to the claim that this President, being somehow outside the Government, is above the law.
Our entire constitutional system -not to mention common sense -rebels at any such notion.
Fast forward to today. Hillary Clinton tells Congress:
The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a classified briefing to House members Wednesday afternoon. ... The answer surprised many in the room because Clinton plainly admitted the administration would ignore any and all attempts by Congress to shackle President Obama's power as commander in chief to make military and wartime decisions.
Isn't that the precise claim that, if acted upon, Tribe thought was an impeachable offense on Reagan's part? If Congress passed a Boland amendment type law with application to Libya, and Obama really had the stones to defy it, would Tribe call for his impeachment?