Obama Overruled Top Lawyers on Libya

Office of Legal Counsel says he needs congressional approval
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2011 9:37 AM CDT

(Newser) John Boehner isn't the only one who thinks President Obama is overstepping his legal authority in Libya. The president overruled some of the administration's top lawyers when he decided to continue participating in the air war without congressional approval, reports Charlie Savage in the New York Times. The head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and the Pentagon general counsel told Obama that he needed approval under the War Powers Act.

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Obama ignored the advice, and the White House made its case earlier this week that the Libya actions do not qualify as "hostilities" as envisioned by the WPA, mainly because US troops are in a supporting role to NATO. The White House counsel and the State Department's legal adviser pushed for that view. Still, it is "extraordinarily rare" for a president to overrule the Office of Legal Counsel in these kinds of situations, writes Savage. We'll see how well it sits with Congress in the coming days. (Read more Libya stories.)

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