Capuano angered by Libyan airstrikes

by Tom Nash on March 22, 2011

 U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) recently joined a chorus of legislators angered by President Barack Obama’s authorization of military force against Libya, issuing a statement to email subscribers that expressed his frustration at airstrikes authorized by the United Nations.

The U.N. Security Council voted to enforce a no-fly zone March 17 in order to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from attacking civilians in the course of putting down a rebellion that has engulfed the country. Airstrikes by U.S., British and French aircraft quickly followed as part of “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

“I have consistently upheld the constitutional separation of powers, whether there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House,” Capuano stated, citing the War Powers Act of 1973 that requires congressional approval for military action occurring outside an immediate threat to national security. “I firmly believe that the Constitution entrusts Congress, not the President acting alone, to decide when to put U.S. troops in harm’s way. The United Nations does not have the authority to deploy US troops or US assets. ”
The former Somerville mayor also questioned why the United States is attacking Libyan forces now when it has not intervened militarily elsewhere, highlighting the recent uprising in Egypt and the genocidal campaign in Darfur waged by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Capuano co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Sudan in 2005.

“This operation, ‘Odyssey Dawn’ may well prevent a despot from slaughtering civilians who have rebelled against him,” Capuano stated. “I certainly do not question this goal, but how is it different from Darfur?”

Capuano’s criticism is joined by colleagues including Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who put forward an amendment on Tuesday asking Congress to defund the operation.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry have expressed support for the no-fly zone. Kerry had called for the action since early March.

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