WASHINGTON - The US State Department's top lawyer on Tuesday defended the legality of the US military involvement in Libya as some lawmakers accuse US President Barack Obama of violating a 1973 law requiring congressional authorization.
US State Department legal adviser Harold Koh urged US lawmakers to nonetheless vote for a resolution authorizing the US role in the NATO-led mission. He said this would show a "united front" with US allies and help to ensure that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi does not get the upper hand in his country's civil war.
There is a simmering controversy in Washington over whether Obama has violated the War Powers Resolution, passed during the Vietnam War era. The law sets out the powers of the president and Congress regarding US military actions and prohibits US armed forces from being involved in military actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization.
Koh told the committee in prepared testimony that he believed Obama was acting lawfully in Libya, and that Obama had consulted "extensively" with Congress on the action, an assertion many US lawmakers dispute.