House Dem: Obama action on Libya 'premeditated' and 'irresponsible'

One furious Democrat on Wednesday accused President Obama of making a "premeditated" decision to wait for Congress to go into recess to deploy U.S. forces in Libya.

"I'm highly concerned that this military intervention took the familiar pattern of launching attacks just when Congress left town to go back to our districts for a week, thus silencing our voices in Congress even more as this floor was shut down," Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) said on the House floor. "How premeditated, and how irresponsible, I believe the current course of events to be."

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Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), the head of the House GOP freshman class, also accused the president recently of waiting until Congress adjourned so he could deploy U.S. forces without congressional assent.

Kaptur and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) both argued Obama should have sought congressional approval for military actions in Libya, with Kaptur saying Obama had plenty of time to obtain it. She acknowledged that some meetings and phone calls took place, but only with a handful of members that she could not name.

"Who exactly were they?" she asked. "None of these gestures meet the spirit or letter of the law under our Constitution relating to military engagement abroad."

Kaptur bristled at the idea that the White House "informed" Congress that NATO forces would assume the lead in the intervention there.

"The president informed Congress that future operations would be handled by NATO," she said. "Well, who exactly decided all of this? Not Congress."

She also added that the U.S. does not have as many allies as it could and is working mostly with "oil-dependent Europe." And she said she worried that the way the United States used force against Libya could set a precedent for future interventions elsewhere.

"Is this America's 21st century Monroe Doctrine, to now intervene militarily under the guise of humanitarian aid, wherever a president chooses?" she asked.

Woolsey made many similar points, calling it distressing to see Congress's power so "casually disregarded." Woolsey added that Obama's recent speech to the nation was not enough to make up for that problem.

"The president gave a fine speech Monday night, as he certainly does, but I found him more eloquent than persuasive," she said. "I'm not satisfied that he's made a thorough case for military action in Libya."

Woolsey said too many questions are unanswered, including the scope of U.S. responsibility, and when the mission ends.

"Does the Pottery Barn rule apply in Libya?" she asked. "If we break it, do we own it?"