National Security Program | Memo

Resolving the Impasse on Libya

by Mieke Eoyang and Scott Payne

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The U.S. mission in Libya is now in a legal limbo, neither authorized nor rejected. We believe this is a politically perilous situation and undermines the powers of both Congress and the Executive.

That’s why we urge all parties to go to the negotiating table and find a consensus authorization. We believe it’s not only possible, but necessary.

In this memo, we explain why we think the Obama administration should seek ex post facto statutory authorization. If intervention in Libya is in our national interest, as the President has stated, the formalities of meeting the War Powers Act should not be used to foreclose action. Statutory authorization would preserve the roles of both branches in national security decision-making, would provide the President with the political support he needs for the ongoing mission, and would reassure our NATO allies of U.S. commitment.

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