June 15th, 2011
07:27 PM ET

White House defends to Congress the U.S. military mission in Libya

Washington (CNN) - The White House defended to Congress on Wednesday the legality, the costs and accomplishments of the U.S. military mission in Libya.

In a 32-page report titled "United States Activities in Libya," the administration says the cost of military and humanitarian operations through June 3 was slightly more than $700 million. It estimates the total cost through September 30 will be $1.1 billion.

The report was drawn up in response to a House resolution that accused President Barack Obama of failing to consult with Congress over the military effort in the North African country.

It denies the accusation by some members of Congress that Obama has violated the War Powers Resolution by intervening militarily for more than 60 days without seeking approval from Congress.

"Given the important U.S. interests served by U.S. military operations in Libya and the limited nature, scope and duration of the anticipated actions, the president had constitutional authority, as commander-in-chief and chief executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to address such limited military operations abroad," it says.

"The president is of the view that the current U.S. military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because U.S. military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the resolution's 60-day termination provision."

The report was accompanied by a two-page letter jointly signed by legislative affairs officials with the Departments of Defense and State and directed to Speaker John Boehner.

"Taken in response to direct appeals from the Libyan people, and acting with a mandate from the United Nations, the United States mobilized a broad coalition, stopped an advancing army, prevented a massacre, established a no-fly zone, and limited the spread of violence and instability in a region pivotal to U.S. security interests," it says.

In response, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said, "The creative arguments made by the White House raise a number of questions that must be further explored. Regardless, the commander-in-chief has a responsibility to articulate how U.S. military action is vital to our national security and consistent with American policy goals. With Libya, the president has fallen short on this obligation. We will review the information that was provided today, but hope and expect that this will serve as the beginning, not the end, of the president's explanation for continued American operations in Libya."

The exchange of documents came after a bipartisan group of House members filed a lawsuit Wednesday that challenges U.S. participation in the Libya military mission.

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