The top Republican in the U.S. Senate made clear Monday that while President Obama is acting within his constitutional role as Commander in Chief ordering the limited military mission in Libya to help establish a "no fly zone," he also served notice that anything beyond that would require Congressional approval.
"If U.S. military forces were to have responsibility for close air support or execute additional strike missions in support of opposition forces, then that of course would exceed the President's definition of a limited, supporting role. Such a mission could last indefinitely and would trigger Congressional consideration of our larger role in the war," Kentucky's Mitch McConnell warned in a floor speech. In other words, any support for rebel forces, which the leader said "we're only now beginning to understand," would come only after Congress considers that option.
And that's not to say the leader does not have questions about the current mission, either, a mission about which, the senator said, Americans are justifiably confused. McConnell, who has been briefed more than most in Congress by senior Administration officials, as well as the president, said the Commander in Chief "has failed to explain up to this point what follows the evident establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, as it was originally described. Further, the President has articulated a wider political objective of regime change in Libya that is not the stated objective of our military intervention; nor is it the mandate of the UN resolution that the President has used as a justification for our military efforts there."
The GOP leader detailed five questions he wants answered tonight when the president addresses the nation from the National Defense University: 1.) When will the US combat role in the operation end?;2.) Will America's commitment end in days, not weeks, as the president promised?; 3.) What will be the duration of the noncombat operation, and what will be the cost?;4.) What national security interests of the U.S. justified the risk of American life?;5.) What is role of our country in Libya's ongoing civil war?
"The President made clear that our combat forces' role in Libya will be limited in scope and duration," McConnell concluded. "Tonight, I hope he will reiterate that pledge or ask Congress before extending the duration or scope of our mission."