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Some US Lawmakers See Military Action in Libya as 'Illegal'

Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, May 12, 2011

Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, May 12, 2011

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has filed a legal challenge to President Barack Obama's decision to take military action in Libya without formally seeking authorization from Congress.

Ten members of the House of Representatives filed a lawsuit Wednesday. They included Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul of Texas.

Kucinich said he and his colleagues believe U.S. law was violated. They hope to gain a court ruling that would - in his words - protect the American people from "illegal policies."

The Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, raised the issue Tuesday in a letter to the White House. He sharply criticized President Obama for ordering military action in Libya without first seeking congressional authorization to go to war.

Obama administration officials say they will soon issue a full explanation and justification of the military commitment, originally announced as an emergency move to protect Libyan civilians from their own government's violent suppression of opposition to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Officials at the White House have said they are preparing to address "a whole host of issues" about the U.S. role in NATO's mission to support Libyan rebels. They promised their report to Congress would include a legal analysis showing the president acted properly in complying with a 1973 U.S. law limiting a president's power in such cases.

The War Powers Act calls for the president to notify congressional leaders within 48 hours of a U.S. military action. It also prohibits U.S. forces from being involved in military efforts for more than 60 days without congressional authorization, and includes an additional 30-day withdrawal period.

Mr. Obama notified Congress in March of his decision to take military action in Libya, but did not seek congressional approval.

NATO is commanding the airstrikes against Mr. Gadhafi's troops and military installations. The U.S. has had a key support role, including aerial refueling of warplanes, as well as provision of intelligence and surveillance for the operation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.