The Washington Post

House Foreign Affairs chairwoman demands answers from Clinton on Libya

The chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give Congress detailed answers regarding the U.S. military intervention in Libya, which is on its 83rd day.

The letter from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) comes one week after the House approved H.Res. 292, a resolution chastising President Obama for not seeking congressional authorization for the operation and calling on the administration to explain its strategy by the end of next week.

In the letter, Ros-Lehtinen poses 21 questions to Clinton, most of which she says “have been posed previously to the Department in numerous venues – both public and classified – stretching back to the Committee’s March 31, 2011, hearing with Deputy Secretary (Jim) Steinberg.”

The committee wants to know, among other things, the administration’s justification for not seeking congressional authorization for the mission, the political and military objectives regarding Libya, the total projected costs of the operation and the impact of the mission on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ros-Lehtinen notes in the letter that the White House “previously has claimed to be acting ‘consistent with the War Powers Resolution’ (P.L. 99-148), which, in section 4(b), states that ‘The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to ... the use of United States Armed Forces abroad.’”

The letter concludes with a request that the information be provided “no later than Thursday, June 16, 2011.”

Congressional discontent over the U.S. military involvement in Libya has been bipartisan, and conservatives such as Ros-Lehtinen and liberals such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) have criticized the White House’s decisions.

Senior administration officials were holding a closed-door briefing on the mission Friday morning for members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, days after plans for a resolution in the upper chamber expressing support for the operation appeared to fall apart.

The White House has defended its actions regarding Libya, and Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters earlier this week that officials had consulted with members of Congress on the mission more than three dozen times.

Staff writer David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.


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