For very good reasons, the Constitution stipulates the president of the United States shall be commander-in-chief of the armed forces. For two centuries the American people and their elected representatives in Congress have recognized that in certain situations when decisive action is needed, presidents should have the authority to send the military into combat.
Such situations occur rarely, but when they do, there simply is no time to wait for approval from Congress.
But prolonged military action is another story. Congress, through the War Powers Act, has quite properly limited the president's long-term authority. Within 90 days of sending U.S. forces to war, presidents are required to explain the action to Congress, which then can either uphold the president or require an end to hostilities on the part of American troops.
Many members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican, believe President Barack Obama has exceeded his authority by ordering continued U.S. military action against Libya. More than three months ago, Obama pledged U.S. intervention would be limited.
Last month a State Department lawyer told U.S. senators the president is right. The very limited nature of U.S. involvement in Libya exempts that conflict from the War Powers Act, the attorney said.
No, it does not. War is war - and it is happening in Libya right now. Without U.S. involvement, our NATO allies would not be able to mount the attacks now going on. Americans are involved in a war in Libya, no matter what Obama claims.
Nuclear power safety in the United States may be on the verge of a meltdown, to judge by revelations during the past few weeks. Members of Congress concerned about that are right to demand a comprehensive investigation of the situation.
First, as we have reported, it was learned that Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko had misled the agency's other commissioners in regard to plans to shut down a program meant to establish a nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
Then, The Associated Press conducted its own investigation of NRC regulation of nuclear power plants. What the AP learned was shocking: Safety rules were being altered by NRC inspectors to help power plant operators. One example: When a leaking valve was found at one plant, the NRC altered acceptable leakage levels, increasing them to 20 TIMES those in the previous rule.
Three senators -Democrats Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, along with Independent Bernard Sanders of Vermont - are asking for a congressional investigation of safety and NRC oversight of nuclear power plants. Both houses of Congress should approve the probe.