Monday, April 18, 2016

Did Bernie Sanders vote to attack Libya? No.

tl;dr: Obama never asked the Senate for authorization to use military force against Libya, so no Senator had the chance to vote for or against war. From Obama, Libya and the authorization conflict - politics | NBC News: "Obama’s stance is striking: not only hasn’t he addressed the question of congressional authorization, but acting without it appears to be at odds with what he stood for when he ran for president."

As noted at Clinton says Bernie Sanders voted for regime change in Libya | PolitiFact, "Sanders supported a non-binding Senate resolution that called on Gaddafi to resign his post in a peaceful, democratic transition of power." The summary at the beginning of S. RES. 85 makes it clear that bill was not about authorizing force: "Strongly condemning the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms, and for other purposes."

Liberals and conservatives were upset in 2011 that Clinton and Obama used Senate Resolution 85 to excuse not asking Congress.

Obama Attacked for No Congressional Consent on Libya - The New York Times:
Some Democratic lawmakers — including Representatives Jerrold Nadler of New York, Barbara Lee of California and Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts — complained in a House Democratic Caucus conference call as the bombing began that Mr. Obama had exceeded his constitutional authority by authorizing the attack without Congressional permission.
From The Senate and the No-Fly Zone: The Legend Begins:
When this resolution passed, on March 1, the Obama administration to all appearances couldn’t have cared less. Obama did not at that point issue a clarion public call for a no-fly zone, or rush to the Security Council brandishing Resolution 85 and demanding action. Nor did the administration turn to Congress for anything of genuine heft. For almost two more weeks — during which Muammar Gaddafi’s forces were regaining the advantage and slaughtering Libyans — President Obama waited and dithered. On March 11, he held a press conference in which he talked about organizing “conversations” with NATO and consulting with the “international community” on Libya. He made not a single reference to the March 1 Senate resolution. He made precisely three mentions of the Senate. None of these had anything to do with Libya; they were strictly about the U.S. budget.

It wasn’t until the Arab League passed its own resolution, on March 12, calling for a no-fly zone over Libya, that the Obama administration swung into action. It took another five days before the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, authorizing a no-fly zone. When that happened, Obama’s ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, did not credit the Senate’s nonbinding hotlined no-debate no-vote resolution passed 16 days earlier. She said the UN measure had been passed “in response to a strong request by the League of Arab States.” She credited support from Lebanon and African members of the Security Council. She made zero mention of the U.S. Senate. Likewise, Obama in his remarks delivered during the week after the UN resolution, as he made his way from Washington to Brazil to Chile to El Salvador, talked about the calls and partnership and support and you-name-it of America’s allies and Arab “partners.” Not only did Obama leave the Senate and its nonbinding resolution unsung. He didn’t even stick around Washington to explain himself. For the first few days of American use of force in Libya, Congress was left trying to glean specifics of America’s new war from presidential press encounters in Rio, Santiago and San Salvador.

Not until Obama returned from his Latin American tour to face a highly disgruntled Congress did Senate Resolution 85 start to acquire the stature with which Clinton and Gates over the past six days have tried to retroactively endow it.
From MSNBC Untruthful About Sen. Pauls Views on Libya:
This bill was hot-lined there was no debate allowed on the issue, no legislative language provided to consider and there was no vote. Senate Res. 85 described a no-fly zone as a possible course of action for the UN Security Councils consideration it did not instruct the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to take action, let alone authorize a military operation, said Sen. Ensign. The Senate Resolution simply does not authorize or endorse the use of force. 
You can watch a video of the resolution passing in the Senate here. It took less than one minute. And according to National Review, not only were there not many Senators in the chamber, the resolution was changed at the last moment unbeknownst to most Senators to include the language asking the UN to consider the possible imposition of a no-fly zone. 
Comparing Bush on Iraq and Obama on Libya is revealing. From Obama, Libya and the authorization conflict - politics | NBC News:
At the urging of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and others, Bush did, in the end, seek a vote by Congress to authorize his attack on Iraq and he got that authorization in October 2002. In the case of Libya, President Barack Obama has consulted with congressional leaders, but sought no authorization for his military operation against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
ETA: How Obama Ignored Congress, and Misled America, on War in Libya - The Atlantic