In a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate dated March 21, 2011, President Obama cited the authority of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and his "constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive."
Obama said back in 2007, when he was running for president “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." It seems he has changed in mind since running for office.
Alexander Hamilton draws a sharp distinction between the President's authority as Commander in Chief as "nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces" and the authority of the British king "which extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies ~ all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature."
The constitution does not state the president can mobilize troops. Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution, sometimes referred to as the War Powers Clause, vests in the Congress the exclusive power to declare war, in the following wording-[Congress shall have Power...] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.
Abraham Lincoln, as a member of congress, related to the invasion of Mexico by President James K. Polk, wrote “The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.”
Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), the chairman of the Homeland Security committee said “The president has the absolute constitutional right to send troops in. I am not a supporter of the War Powers Act. A president, especially in this day and age, has the right to use American forces without going to Congress first.” He argues that his view is the “traditional conservative position.” In this day and age of failing to adhere to the constitution he must mean.
On ABC's This Week, Jake Tapper asked Gates, "Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?" Gates responded, "No, no. It was not, it was not a vital national interest to the United States."
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 states the constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
As Rep. Roscoe Bartlett pointed out “Moammar Qadhafi is a tyrant despised throughout the Middle East and North Africa. His brutal and merciless attacks against his own citizens are horrific. It is self-evident that the tragic situation in Libya is not an emergency since the Obama administration sought and obtained support from both the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council to authorize military force against Qadhafi.
The Obama administration also had time to organize a 22-nation coalition to implement a no-fly zone with military attacks led by U.S. Armed Forces against Qadhafi’s forces. Nonetheless, the Obama administration failed to seek approval from the American people and their elected legislators in the Congress. Failing to obtain authorization from the U.S. Congress means that President Obama has taken sole responsibility for the outcome of using U.S. military forces against Qadhafi onto his shoulders and his administration.”
Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said the action in Libya is not a war but "involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end." Calling it something that it is not does not make it something that it is not- an act of war.
In his speech, Obama stressed that the United States “should not — and cannot” intervene in every crisis. But he said when a situation like Libya arises and the international community supports action, the United States has a responsibility to intervene. “I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives, then it’s in our national interest to act,” he said.
The largest war in modern African history, it directly involved eight African nations, as well as about 25 armed groups. By 2008 the war and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighboring countries. This must be one of the occasions in which we must not intervene.
The UN Resolution that Obama said gives him authority to use the military does not state replacing the Libyan leader. Yet "You have seen with great clarity that he has lost legitimacy with his people," Obama said during a White House press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon. "So let me just be very unambiguous about this. Colonel Qaddafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It's the right thing to do.” Obama added: "It's time for Gaddafi to go."
Obama said the U.S. “is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya.” Yet more than 2,000 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 2nd Marine Expeditionary force, deployed along with Amphibious Squadron 6 for Libya Tuesday.
Abraham Lincoln posed this question: “How many legs does a dog have?” The reply of course was four. Lincoln asked, “If we call the tail a leg, then how many legs does a dog have?” The reply: Five. “No,” Lincoln said, “Just because you call a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.”