Here in the Twin Cities, dueling conventions are taking place–the Nutroots are meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center, while the Right Online conference is taking place just two blocks away at the Hilton Hotel. News stories have reported widespread dissatisfaction with the Obama administration among the Nutroots; wait until they see this:
President Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided that he had the legal authority to continue American military participation in the air war in Libya without Congressional authorization, according to officials familiar with internal administration deliberations.
Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, and Caroline D. Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, had told the White House that they believed that the United States military’s activities in the NATO-led air war amounted to “hostilities.” Under the War Powers Resolution, that would have required Mr. Obama to terminate or scale back the mission after May 20.
But Mr. Obama decided instead to adopt the legal analysis of several other senior members of his legal team — including the White House counsel, Robert Bauer, and the State Department legal adviser, Harold H. Koh — who argued that the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged. …
Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.
So the differences between the George W. Bush administration and the Obama administration are coming into clearer focus: Bush went to Congress to get authorization before commencing military hostilities, Obama didn’t. Bush followed the legal advice he got from the Department of Justice, while Obama didn’t like what OLC told him and went shopping for a second opinion so that he could continue the Libyan adventure without having to consult with Congress.
Is this what the lefties thought they were voting for in 2008? Somehow, I doubt it. But they have nowhere to turn, and can be expected to fall in behind Obama once more in 2012. Only this time, we won’t be hearing a lot of pious BS about the imperial presidency and the rule of law.