March 24, 2011
In a recent op-ed in Slate, Professor Jack Goldsmith makes the case for why President Obama's campaign of air and sea strikes against Libya is constitutional. Goldsmith says that while he agrees with "many of the arguments from critics of the intervention that President Obama acted imprudently in committing American forces to a conflict with an ill-defined national security justification," he does not believe that the military action is unconstitutional. Goldsmith's op-ed, "War Power," appeared in the March 21, 2011 edition of Slate. A former assistant attorney general in the Bush Administration, Goldsmith is the author of "The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgement Inside the Bush Administration" (W.W. Norton & Company, 2007).
by Jack Goldsmith
Several days into a campaign of air and sea strikes against Libya, I agree with many of the arguments from critics of the intervention: President Obama acted imprudently in committing American forces to a conflict with an ill-defined national security justification. It is unclear how, on balance, a third war in a Muslim country helps our foreign policy goals. It is uncertain that the intervention will produce a regime more to our liking than Qaddafi's. It is hard to justify military action in Libya while the United States does not use military force in the face of brutal crackdowns by allies elsewhere in the Middle East. And it was especially unwise not to explain this action to the American people in advance or to better consult with and seek formal authorization, or at least political support, from Congress.
But that said, I depart from the critics of the Libya action, and from Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton themselves circa 2007, and from the academic writings of Legal Adviser to the State Department Harold Koh on this one point: I do not believe that the military action in Libya is unconstitutional. ... read the full op-ed »