Are We at War? Obama Administration Officials Say No

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Are we in a war with Libya or not? It's been a key question as leaders are mapping out the next steps of the conflict in Libya. Some pundits and politicians have used the word since coalition forces took action Saturday, while others have avoided it. The official operation is called "Operation Odyssey Dawn."

The White House held a classified briefing Tuesday with House and Senate leaders regarding the ongoing situation in Libya emphasizing the U.S. is NOT at war with Libya. Coalition forces, including the United States, are enforcing a no-fly zone after leader Muammar Qaddafi inflicted violence on innocent civilians.

Even though there are no ground troops in Libya, some are arguing that the United States has essentially entered war by invading a country with military action and expressing a desire to have Qaddafi out of power, even if that's not necessarily part of the no-fly mission.

Technically a full declaration of war requires Congressional approval and the War Powers Act allows the president to take a limited military action, as long as he notifies Congress within 48 hours.

President Obama has held top-level meetings with members of Congress and sent a letter Monday-- but some lawmakers, including Democrats, are asking for more approval. House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter Wednesday night to the president using the "w" word: "...many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America's role is in achieving that mission."

So what was the administration's reaction to the question of the day? Here's a sampling:



I'll tell you that nobody has to explain to the Qaddafi forces that we are conducting operations, that we're conducting the kind of air strikes and using the kind of tools and resources that we've used to grade, to grade progress across Libya as we've done in other places, so I -- I don't know what you want to call it, Wendell, but I guarantee you that nobody in Libya, is mistaking our seriousness and our dedication to ensuring that we accomplish this very clear task that the president set out.

FOX NEWS' JAMES ROSEN: Mark, are we at war in Libya?


We are implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. It is clearly a combat operation or a combat mission.As the president made very clear, there will be no U.S. ground forces involved in this, and that the U.S. role is -- is upfront, front-loaded, if you will, on this, but that's going to -- you know, obviously, recede into a more -- a broader international coalition as we move forward to -- to -- implement the no-fly zone.

QUESTION: So you would not say we're at war.

TONER: I -- I think we've -- you love these -- these sweeping characterizations, and I appreciate it.

QUESTION: (inaudible) I love or do not love, but the question on the table is, are we at war in Libya or not?

TONER: I would say it's a combat mission, clearly, but beyond that you can parse that out.

FOX NEWS' JENNIFER GRIFFIN: Do you consider yourself at war right now?

REAR ADMIRAL FERARD HUEBER: We are carrying out the mission of the United Nations Security (sic) resolution 1973 at the direction of the president in his speech.

Fox News' Chad Pergram and Trish Turner contributed to this report.