A key Senate Democrat on Tuesday tamped down the suggestion by some in his own party that President Obama could be impeached for launching military strikes on Libya.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), a supporter of the U.S. mission in Libya and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that if Obama's actions on Libya are impeachable, then so are the acts of every other president since World War II who launched military operations without autoritzation.
Levin's comments could help give Obama political cover among lawmakers who are divided over the president's decision to participate in an allied military intervention against Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who is trying to quash a violent rebellion against his rule.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), an anti-war Democrat, has raised the
specter of impeachment, though he did not go as far as to say Congress
should begin impeachment proceedings against Obama.
"I raised the question in a private phone conversation with other Democrats as to whether or not, if a president takes us into a war without consulting — without following the Constitution, would that be an impeachable offense? I did raise that question," Kucinich said on the Fox Business network on Monday. "The process of impeachment is a separate thing. I raised the question to challenge what I see is an overreach of executive authority."
Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader has called for Obama's impeachment outright over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama penned a letter to Congress on Monday explaining that he had the authority to launch the strikes under his constitutional role as commander in chief. That came after members of Congress in both parties, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), complained that the president had not adequately explained the U.S. mission to Congress and the public.
"The United States has not deployed ground forces into Libya," Obama wrote. "United States forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster."
Both Levin and Kucinich were staunch opponents of the Iraq war, initiated by President George W. Bush in 2003.