Tags: US | Libya

Gates: Obama Is Within Law in Libyan Operation

Sunday, 19 Jun 2011 11:24 AM

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he believes President Barack Obama isn't required to seek congressional authorization for the U.S. military operation in Libya.

Some lawmakers say Obama is violating the War Powers Resolution. They say he needs Congress' approval to continue to participate in NATO-led airstrikes supporting rebels seeking the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

House Speaker John Boehner has scoffed at Obama's argument that the U.S. isn't engaged in hostilities as defined by the law. The New York Times has reported that Obama accepted the view of his legal team and rejected the analysis of top lawyers at the Pentagon and Justice Department that he needed congressional approval.

Gates tells "Fox News Sunday" that Obama is complying with the law in a way that's consistent with other presidents.

Gates also warned Congress on Sunday not to cut off funding for U.S. military involvement in Libya and predicted that the operation targeting Gadhafi's forces will "end OK."

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, last week said Congress could cut funding for U.S. military involvement in Libya, ratcheting up pressure on Obama.

Gates, who departs as Pentagon chief this month after serving in the post under one Democratic and one Republican president, noted that earlier during his stint in the job Congress also threatened to cut off funding for the Iraq war.

"Frankly, I think cutting off funding in the middle of a military operation when we have people engaged is always a mistake," Gates told "Fox News Sunday."

Speaking on the CNN's "State of the Union," Gates predicted a positive outcome of the NATO-led campaign in Libya.

"We are seeing the Gaddafi government weaken," Gates said. "... I think this is going to end OK. I think Gaddafi will eventually fall."

Gates added "my own bet" is that Gadhafi "will not step down voluntarily, but somebody will make that decision for him -- either his military or his family." Asked whether that meant someone would kill Gaddafi, Gates said, "Possibly."

He said he could not make a prediction on how long it would take before Gadhafi falls.

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