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June 22, 2011

The War Powers Debate: Is the U.S. Engaged in “Hostilities” in Libya?

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? When does the use of the armed forces of the United States trigger the War Powers Resolution of 1973? Why have we not intervened in "hostilities" within the meaning of that resolution with our military operations in Libya?

Learned counsel for the State Department and the White House appear to know the answers to such questions with reasons that would make medieval scholastics blush with embarrassment.

There are no caveats in the War Powers Resolution. The words are perfectly clear -- certainly clear enough for a former lecturer in constitutional law -- or even for a former dean of the Yale Law School -- to be able to comprehend and apply in the manner that Congress intended.

George Dargo

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