WASHINGTON (AFP) – US lawmakers from the right and left on Saturday stepped up criticism of President Barack Obama over his Libya intervention after a report that he had overruled top government lawyers.
The New York Times reported Friday that Obama had rejected the opinions of top lawyers at the Pentagon and Justice Department who said the United States was engaged in "hostilities" in Libya requiring congressional approval.
The White House has argued that because US forces are playing a supporting role in the NATO air campaign and because no ground troops are involved it does not need legislative backing under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.
Republican Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took aim at Obama over the Times report, accusing him of ignoring the Justice Department's opinion because it didn't fit his "agenda."
"If dropping bombs and firing missiles on military installations are not hostilities, I don't know what is. The president's actions on Libya are nothing short of bizarre," he said in a statement.
"The president would likely have received overwhelming support for the operations in Libya, but his approach has needlessly burned through goodwill with Congress and violated the trust of the American people."
Corker is the co-author, with Democratic Senator Jim Webb, of a resolution seeking an explanation for the US Libya mission, prohibiting the introduction of US ground forces and calling on Obama to seek congressional authorization.
Far left Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich -- a staunch opponent of the US intervention -- said it was "very disturbing" that Obama was proceeding without congressional authorization despite the lawyers' advice.
"An immediate remedy to this fiasco is needed. Congress must move swiftly to cut off funds for the operation," Kucinich said, adding that the situation had the "makings of a Constitutional crisis."
"If a foreign nation launched drone missile attacks against the United States, I think we would agree such incursion would constitute hostilities.... War is war, even if it is conducted by robots in the air," he said.
Kucinich and nine other members of Congress have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Obama over US action in Libya.
The United States and Western allies launched a UN-backed bombing campaign against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi's regime in March aimed at preventing his troops from marching on the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
The Libyan strongman had vowed to go house by house to hunt down pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets in February to demand the end of his 41-year reign amid similar uprisings across the Arab world.
© AFP 2013