WASHINGTON — The White House will deliver a report to Congress Wednesday explaining its involvement in Libya, as a bipartisan group of lawmakers filed suit charging US military action in the war-torn nation is unconstitutional.
The report will include legal analysis arguing that President Barack Obama did not overstep his powers in the conflict in the north African nation.
"The president has acted in a manner that is consistent with the War Powers Resolution," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, arguing the 30-page report would show the "success" of the mission to protect Libyan civilians.
Obama's Libya policy fell under the spotlight in court as anti-war Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich filed the lawsuit challenging what it described as the Obama administration's circumvention of Congress in using military force in a protracted effort to oust longtime ruler Moamer Kadhafi.
"With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies," said Kucinich, who was joined in the suit by nine other House members including Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.
The complaint "challenges the constitutionality of the war against Libya" and calls into question the policy that a president can take the US to war unilaterally, Kucinich said.
"Neither NATO nor the UN trump the Constitution of the United States."
On March 19 the UN Security Council passed a resolution allowing for air strikes against Libyan regime forces in order to protect civilians, amid the uprising against Kadhafi which began in February.
The mission, first launched by the US, Britain and France, is now under the command of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The White House has faced dissatisfaction on both sides of the aisle in Congress, where lawmakers have warned that Obama may be falling foul of a law aimed at curtailing US presidents' ability to deploy the military overseas.
Senators and representatives have also expressed concerns about how long the conflict against Kadhafi is taking, its impact on the turmoil in the Middle East and on US standing in the Muslim world.
Kucinich and Republican Walter Jones have been particularly vocal in charging that Obama failed to adequately consult Congress -- to which the US Constitution reserves the right to declare war -- before Britain, France and the United States started the UN-authorized air strikes.
"Why in hell are we going into Libya?" an exasperated Jones asked on Wednesday.
"This (lawsuit) is an opportunity to rectify a direction that America has been going without the support of the constitution," he said.
"Yes, Kadhafi is an evil man certainly, but where are you, Congress?"
"Why didn't the president come to the Congress and ask the Congress to be supportive?"
In late March, Kucinich said Obama had "subverted Congress and the United States Constitution" by ignoring the 1973 War Powers Resolution.
The law stipulates that, absent congressional authorization, a military withdrawal from a conflict must be initiated within 60 days and completed within 90 days. The latter limit will be reached on Sunday.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, Obama's top Republican critic, warned the president may be in violation of the War Powers Resolution by this weekend unless he gets lawmakers' explicit approval for the Libya operation.
The House of Representatives recently passed a symbolic resolution chiding Obama for not seeking congressional approval for US involvement in Libya and giving him until June 17 to respond.