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.
Clinton was responding to a question from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) about the administration's response to any effort by Congress to exercise its war powers, according to a senior Republican lawmaker who attended the briefing.
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. In doing so, he would follow a long line of Presidents who have ignored the act since its passage, deeming it an unconstitutional encroachment on executive power.
Clinton's staking out a pretty aggressive position on the scope of the President's war powers. It's especially aggressive considering what her boss said back when he was still a mere junior Senator from Illinois:
Barack Obama: Congress decides deployment level & duration, not president
Q: Can the president disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops--either by capping the number of troops, or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments?
A: No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.
Barack Obama: No action against Iran without Congressional authorization
Q: In what circumstances would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?
A: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action. As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J.Res.23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”
To repeat, Senator Obama's position was clear: "I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law." But isn't that exactly the authority his Secretary of State just asserted?
It's interesting how even a formerly stalwart Obama supporter like Andrew Sullivan is starting to realize what we're dealing with in Barack Obama:
We are governed by an executive that goes to war in secret and at will, openly contemptuous of the democratic process and even minimal transparency. and when you realize that that executive actually campaigned against this kind of secretive, dictatorial presidency, you realize how this has become systemic, and the anti-democratic rot is deep.