The BBC mentioned it once but they think they got away with it.
The US administration is examining the legality of continuing in the Nato-led Libya campaign beyond Friday.
The War Powers Resolution, passed after US withdrawal from the Vietnam War, rules that involvement in combat operations unauthorised by Congress must be terminated after 60 days.
That deadline is on Friday and deputy secretary of state James Steinberg has said the government is aware of it.
“President Obama has been mindful of the War Powers Resolution,” he said.
That one brief article from last week is all I can find from the BBC concerning Obama’s legal requirement to obtain congressional approval for US military action in Libya. The Friday deadline has been and gone but the BBC has shown no further interest in the story, so we look to the Chicago Tribune to bring us up to date:
Under the War Powers Act, President Barack Obama had until Friday to get congressional authorization to continue U.S. military operations in Libya. But the day passed without his even asking for it, which means he has to disengage within 30 days. Obama may not heed that requirement either… As a candidate, he said the president does not have the power to go to war on his own except in cases of actual or likely attack. But if he were to ask Congress to authorize the Libyan intervention, he would probably be rebuffed. So he’s chosen to simply ignore the law.
I can’t help thinking that the BBC’s treatment of this story would be somewhat different if a Republican president was visiting these shores having just ignored his own campaign pledges to seek congressional approval for military operations of the kind undertaken in Libya, arguing now that such actions are limited and therefore don’t require the say-so of Congress. Imagine the chorus of outrage the BBC would be leading right now. But it’s Obama, so the story is quietly dropped in favour of the usual gushing lovefest from his doting BBC fanboys and fangirls.
UPDATE 18.45. From last Friday’s New York Times:
Administration officials offered no theory for why continuing the air war in Libya in the absence of Congressional authorization and beyond the deadline would be lawful. Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, portrayed it as a significant constitutional moment.
“There may be facts of which we are unaware, but this appears to be the first time that any president has violated the War Powers Resolution’s requirement either to terminate the use of armed forces within 60 days after the initiation of hostilities or get Congress’s support,” Mr. Goldsmith said.
I repeat – how would the BBC be playing this if it had all happened under a Republican president?
There were resolutions in Congress yesterday, so unfortunately for the BBC the story doesn’t look like it’s going away.