President Obama committed U.S. forces to a military conflict with Libya. He did so without without following the basic dictates of the Constitution, which requires that wars be declared by Congress, or the War Powers Act, which outlines requirements and timelines for cooperating with the House and Senate after a war has begun.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich has raised this issue again and again, pressing for congressional oversight — sometimes on his own, sometimes in the company of a handful on constitutionally-concerned Democrats and Republicans such as Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
Now, two months into the fight, Kucinich, D-Ohio, is pressing the point; demanding to know when his colleagues are going to apply the congressional oversight that is required by the Constitution and the laws of the land.
Unfortunately, while last week’s votes on Libya-related amendments to the Defense Authorization bill suggest that there is a good deal of discomfort in the House with the Libyan mission, Kucinich’s attempts to force a debate are being blocked by House leaders.
The House was supposed to hold a debate Wednesday on Congressman Kucinich’s proposal to end U.S. involvement in the war in Libya. But the resolution was pulled from the floor calendar in a classic case of dereliction of duty.
Kucinich is not just disappointed. He is bluntly critical of the Obama White House and congressional leaders, who he suggests are avoiding the issue because they know that support for the Libyan project is dwindling.
The pressure from Kucinich and the growing skepticism among members of Congress has led the administration to step up efforts to defend the president’s Libyan initiative. After Wednesday’s planned debate on the Kucinich resolution was scrapped, plans were announced for an administration-sponsored classified briefing for members of Congress regarding the war in Libya.
Kucinich objected to what he described as "cynical… manipilation for war," arguing that, “In the wake of an Iraq war based on lies and manufactured intelligence, the American people and, in particular, the journalists who provide them with information must not stand for war conjured in private. It is not sufficient for the Administration to declare war absent a constitutionally required declaration of war or authorization for the use of military force and tell Congress and the American people to ‘trust us.’"
“A classified briefing in lieu of an open debate," Kucinich concluded, "is an affront to the American people and to the very concept of open government."