Bartlett: Libya action 'an affront to the Constitution'
Updated, with comment from Bartlett staff qualifying his support for the Iraq war.
Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is calling the decision of President Barack Obama to deploy force again Libya without first seeking congressional authorization “an affront to the Constitution.”
Bartlett, a Western Maryland Republican, chairs the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces. In a statement Monday, he said “The United States does not have a King's army.”
“President Obama's administration has repeated the mistakes of the Clinton administration concerning bombing in Kosovo and the George W. Bush administration concerning invading Iraq by failing to request and obtain from the U.S. Congress unambiguous prior authorization to use military force against a country that has not attacked U.S. territory, the U.S. military or U.S. citizens,” he said. “This is particularly ironic considering then-Senator Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination based upon his opposition to President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq."
While Moammar Gadhafi “ is a tyrant despised throughout the Middle East and North Africa,” Bartlett said, and “his brutal and merciless attacks against his own citizens are horrific,” it is “self-evident” that the situation in Libya “is not an emergency.”
“The Obama administration sought and obtained support from both the Arab League and the United Nations Security Council to authorize military force against Qadhafi,” Bartlett said. “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."
Update: Bartlett spokeswoman Lisa Wright has contacted us to qualify his support of the Iraq war:
“Rep. Bartlett was a reluctant supporter of H.J.Res. 114 [the joint resolution to authorize military force] after [the] failure of the Spratt subsitute which would have required an additional vote by Congress to authorize military force by the U.S. in the absence of a UN resolution. The Spratt resolution was his preference. Rep. Bartlett was critical of the UN for failing to uphold its resolutions and of President Bush's interpretation that the ambiguous wording in UNSC Resolution 1441 [the November 2002 U.N. Security Council Resolution that offered the regime of Saddam Hussein "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations"] was an authorization for the US to use military force.