Obama administration tells Hill aides U.S. 'not at war' with Libya
March 23rd, 2011
03:29 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama administration tells Hill aides U.S. 'not at war' with Libya

Washington (CNN) - As coalition planes cleared ground threats to support a no fly zone over Libya, the Obama administration briefed a bipartisan group of congressional aides Tuesday on the mission.

According to one official who attended the briefing in the Capitol Visitors Center Auditorium, the panel (recently removed Ambassador to Libya, two military, two intelligence and one treasury official) made clear that the U.S. is "not at war" with Libya.

During the question and answer session where 17 or 18 questions were asked, the official described "deep skepticism from both sides of the aisle, both sides of the capitol." The official said that concerns about the mission were expressed and that while some spoke of support for "what the president is doing," they were seeking guidance on how to answer their constituents when they ask "what's next."

According to the official who spoke to CNN but did not want to be quoted on the record, the panel could not provide a clear answer and instead said they're focused on implementing the UN Security Council resolution.

When the panel was asked to define "success" in Libya, they told the congressional aides "preventing attacks on the Libyan people and handing off control to a coalition force."

However they "would not talk about cost, whether they would send up a supplemental or if they would like congressional authorization," the official said.

Filed under: Capitol Hill • Libya • President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. sonny chapman

    Let the political games begin.

    March 23, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. sonny chapman

    To all the Repubs. who weigh in on this: Were we "at war" with Libya when Reagen ordered the 1981 attack ?

    March 23, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Rickster

    lol....what a lame, pathetic administration we have.

    March 23, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. FM

    This sounds very funny. Not at war with Libya!! and what are the bombs you are dropping to them for!! Are they to clean up their buildings or to destroy them!! Please call a spade a spade not a small spoon!

    March 23, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Monster Zero

    Let me get this straight, Obama circumvents Congress to get approval under the war powers act but then stipulates that we are not at war... Impeach Obama now!

    March 23, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Sniffit, they are not the same as at least Bush received approval of Congress for both Iraq and Afghanistan prior to any military action, you know in accordance to our Constitution."

    Please read the following:

    War Powers Act
    United States v. Verduqo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 273 (1990) ("[t]he United States frequently employs Armed Forces outside this country - over 200 times in our history - for the protection of American citizens or national security")
    December 4, 1992 Memorandum from AG William Barr and Asst. AG Timothy Flanigan to President Bush (I) re: Somalia
    Presidential Power to Use the Armed Forces Abroad Without Statutory Authorization, 4A Op. O.L.C. 185, 187 (1980)
    Authority of the President to Repel the Attack in Korea, 23 Dep't St. Bull. 173, 177 (1950)
    40 Op. Att'y Gen. 58, 62 (1941) (Jackson, A.G.)
    D. Sofaer, War, Foreign Affairs and Constitutional Power 209-16 (1976)
    J. Terry Emerson, War Powers Legislation, 74 W. Va. L. Rev. 53, 88-110 (1971)
    James Grafton Rogers, World Policing and the Constitution 93-123 (1945)
    Milton Offutt, The Protection of Citizens Abroad by the Armed Forces of the United States (1928)
    See also, Somalia, Grenada, Kosovo, Barbary, etc.
    The list goes on...

    When you're done, you can take your talking points and stuff them where the Kucinich (and his ambitions) don't shine. What Bush did with respect to Iraq was of several magnitudes different from Obama has done with respect to Libya. The "news" media isn't bothering to highlight any of the factual or legal distinctions nor the legal precedents applicable to both because CNN and the rest have latched onto the controversy teat like a starving lamprey.

    March 23, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The question is, "Does a 'no fly zone' represent a declaration of war, or is it compliance with a UN Security Council resolution?"

    March 23, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. confused

    So attacking a soverign nation with bombs and tell that country they cannot fly inside there own country is not war? Killing the nation's army with bombs is not war? Bombing targets is not war? Well then, what is war?

    March 23, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It looks like the flip floppers in the republican party, and the air heads at Fox are conducting a full fledged Chines fire drill.

    March 23, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  10. Sonnie

    We need somebody(commander and chief) that will lead. Now we see our chief trying to hand our troops to
    the French command in Libyan war efforts.
    This UN Security Council may not be the place for American Interest.
    We have problems with our budget that need to be addressed first. We are a Super Power that con't get around
    to balanceing a budget? Time to get to work Obama, and put away the golf clubs, and the many vactions, you are
    touring around the world on the backs of the American taxpayer. It is just high time our potus takes a stand and
    puts out a policy about Libya. I for one think we should have stayed out of Libya. It's there problem and not ours.

    March 23, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    As I said from the beginning, WE ARE NOT AT WAR WITH LIBYA. The Pentagon should have enough money in their budget to cover the cost.

    March 23, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Greg Smith

    Seems to be a similar process to the no-fly zone imposed over Iraq after Kuwait but before we invaded. We weren't at war but were imposing UN resolutions.

    March 23, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    the U.S. is "not at war" with Libya
    Yes, right. We are just delivering military supplies onto Khaddafi's buildings, vehicles and troops. I guess he would have preferred them parachuted?

    Or as Bill Clinton would have said... "it depends on what the definition of the word war is."

    March 23, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    $32 billion of Gadhafi's frozen assets will help the U.S. pay some of the costs for liberating the people of Libya.

    March 23, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "The only thing this poll seems to indicate is how Democrats will support military action as long as a Democrat President ordered the attack. It's amazing how quickly they put aside their core beliefs when it suits the liberal agenda or in support of a Democrat President."

    And comments liek that highlight that ultra-righties have no critical thinking skills and no desire to understand any nuance about anything if pretending to false equiavlencies might gain them political leverage. First of all, I myself and, I'm fairly sure most liberals like myself, don't really support this happening at all or would at least have preferred it didn't. However, pretending that this is exactly the same as what happened with respect to Iraq and/or Afghanistanis a patent absurdity. In neither case was a very large segment of the population rising up, begging for our help, screaming for the overthrow of a malicious dictator...nor was that malicius dictator actively mobilizing his military to level cities and kill thousands in order to supress the rebellion. Bush fabricated his reasons for invasion of Iraq, sold the lies to Congress and got his AUFM base don teh shifting sands of bad intelligence and then used it to START hostilities and send Iraq, which was not currently in a state of rebellion or suffering an active and brutal response to a rebellion, into utter chaos...bombing heavily populated areas and then sending thousands and thousands of our troops into Iraq on the ground. There was no immediate and existing humanitarian crisis threatening Iraq nor Americans captured and held (NY Times journalists in Libya). The distinctions are myriad. Moreover, the legal precedent and authority exists for Obama to have done what he did without asking Congress for an AUFM or even a declaration of war. Bush didn't really attempt obtaining UN, NATO, Arab League and foreign ally support for Iraq and they certainly weren't on the ground or participating like they are in Libya. Recognizing these distinctions and shooting down mindless talking points claiming that Obama has violated the constitution, that it's all the same as Iraq, and a plethora of other even more inane comments...that doesn't mean I or anyone else supports what is happening. It just means we support being honest and objective about what actually is happening and criticizing it for what it is...nto what YOU wish to mischaracterize it as being in some self-serving partisan hissy fit.

    March 23, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Hazmat77

    bombing targets in a sovereign nation is an act of war, whether or not the UN authorizes it ...the act is an act of war.

    March 23, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. A Real American

    Just like we're not at war with pakistan? Hmmm... The bombing had me fooled.

    March 23, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    excuse me...that should read "AUMF"...typing too fast hehe

    March 23, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Patrick, FL

    Sonnie, read your constitution please. It is the role of Congress to set Tax rates and Budgets not the President. He put forth his proposal for the 2011 budget in 2010. Congress is dragging its feet not the President.

    And once again to beat the dead horse, The President is well within his rights and the constitution under the War Powers Resolution to authorize this military action.

    But as always don't let the Facts get in the way of your partisan politics.

    March 23, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. tony

    Ok now let's imagine some country was enforcing a No Fly Zone over say South Carolina. To do that they had to launch 114 cruise missiles at targets in the state, fly nearly 200 sorties and have their President say that the Governor of South Carolina "had to go". If that's not war – please tell me what is. I guess that's the kind of war they teach at Harvard. Sorry, I went to the Naval Academy and I can say emphatically, the pilots that are flying these missions know that they are definitely at war......

    March 23, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Hazmat77

    Greg Smith

    Not the same nor similar – Saddam Huessein signed a Cease Fire Agreement which auhorized the No Fly Zone in Iraq ... enforcing that NFZ was NOT an act of war since it had the approval of the then Iraq government.

    March 23, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. LIP

    Really Sniffit...you amaze me. These wars aren't the same...only a bleeding liberal like yourself would say that. They are the one and the same and has anyone asked Kadafi if he thinks we are at war with him? I don't care for the scum bag, but lets just call an ace an ace and stop with the semantics of politics. I could go on and on, but you already did that and I don't want to bore you libs with facts.

    March 23, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Name Creole

    It's SOOOOOO how fast someone on here such as Monster Zero want's to say IMPEACE Obama Now!!!!! But From time to time the good old boy CLUB has been killing every race of folks that's not white Starting With Slave's the Indians, Spanish, Asians and So On. But now we have a President that think things out before he act is way to much for you. But when Bush Told a BIG LIE many Died. You all are so sad that can't see the whols picture Obama 2012

    March 23, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. gt

    i think obama is bi polar....... dont act one way and do another...

    March 23, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    Newflash for dittoheads: The country is NOT broke. Not even close. It's just that a very small percentage of the population has it's hands over a very large percentage of all the wealth and assets and has used it to buy our government's compliance with not only keeping it that, but massively increasing the imbalance. THE NUMBERS DON'T LIE.

    Sniffit the Communist Party Chief is revealed....

    When you demand that Obama confiscate Bill Gates and Warren Buffet's wealth in order to redistribute it or pay it back to the Chinese?

    March 23, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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