IGNORING THE WAR POWERS ACT? PJP PARTICIPANT BRUCE ACKERMAN SAYS OBAMA, WHO CRITICIZED BUSH, IS SETTING A WORSE PRECEDENT FOR ARBITRARY EXECUTIVE POWER THAN HIS PREDECESSOR

In an interesting Op-ed in the New York Times, Yale Law professor and PJP participant Bruce Ackerman argues that President Obama’s decision to join in the NATO air strikes on Libya has been unfaithful to the War Powers Act of 1973 — in particular, the part of that Act which requires the president to get Congressional approval of military actions within 60 days of Congressional notice (more than 90 days have already passed). Ackerman points the finger at White House counsel Robert Bauer whose office rejected the arguments of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel after it declared that Obama needed to adhere to the Act’s reporting and approval procedures. Obama, he asserts, is following a dangerous precedent established by his predecessor, President George W. Bush, whose White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, led an “ad hoc war council’ that put pressure on the Office of Legal Counsel to approve the “torture” of terrorism suspects: when the OLC doesn’t give you the interpretation you want, the president simply declares his own interpretation of the law, an abuse of executive power.

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