Waging a legal war

May 18, 2011

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(Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
Senator John Kerry met with Mahmoud Jibril, representative of the Libyan National Transitional Council, earlier this month.

This country’s Founding Fathers gave Congress the power to declare war. In recent decades, Congress has ceded much of that power to the president. We’re at a point now where some scholars say the military action in Libya could mean the death knell for the 1973 War Powers Act.

At the same time, as part of a defense bill in the House, Congress has inserted a provision that critics say gives the president expanded power to make war on terrorist enemies indefinitely. The American Civil Liberties Union helped turn up information on the provision. They are also encouraging Congress to act on Libya.

Chris Anders, senior legislative council for the ACLU, helps us sort out the legalities of U.S. military engagement.