But the briefing did send one message: We don’t care what you think.
Lawmakers said they weren’t told much by Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that they couldn’t read in the newspaper or see on television.
They said one dynamic was very clear: The administration doesn’t much care what Congress thinks about the actions it’s taken so far.
Challenged on whether Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in attacking Libya without congressional approval, Clinton told lawmakers that White House lawyers were OK with it and that Obama has no plans to seek an endorsement from Congress, attendees told POLITICO.
Not to be Captain Obvious, but White House lawyers work directly for the president. They’re not the last word on whether the president, their boss, is acting within the law. Miss Rose Law Firm Records is well aware of this, as is Captain Constitutional Scholar. The administration’s attitude, which almost seems designed to push a game of Constitutional Chicken, didn’t win over any skeptics.
Approximately 10 lawmakers had an opportunity to ask questions during the briefing — several of which tried to get at the constitutionality of the administration’s action. Both parties asked tough questions, a source told The Hill.
“Democrats and Republicans alike seemed to be frustrated that we’re in this situation,” said the source. “It was very bipartisan. There wasn’t one person that stood up and was supportive — not one.”
That’s not quite true. There was one voice of support, but he’s evidently clueless.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) had a different take. He said that, because the U.S. has already ceded control of the operations to NATO, the 60-day timeline under the WPA is irrelevant.
“I think that we’re out,” he said.
Note to Dutch: The US provides almost a quarter of NATO’s budget and is far and away its strongest force. If NATO is in something, the US is in it too. If you’d like details, head up to Aberdeen Proving Ground and ask anyone with little shiny things on their hats or shoulders. They will be glad to set you straight.
Of course, Ruppersberger isn’t actually that clueless. He’s testing an argument that would allow the Obama administration to ignore the War Powers Act’s 60 day notification requirement. The admin doesn’t want to invoke the WPA, and doesn’t want to have to live within it.
What we seem to have here is an administration and certain of its apologists showing far more interest in cementing the UN’s Responsibility to Protect than in abiding by the US Constitution. That’s not good, to put it mildly.