Dem. Rep: Obama's handling of Libya "premeditated," "irresponsible"

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, left, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 30, 2008, to discuss a financial bailout plan. From left are, Kaptur, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, hidden in green, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) speaks on November 17, 2010 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur on Wednesday lambasted President Obama's handling of the situation in Libya, arguing that his decision to intervene without consulting Congress was "premeditated" and "irresponsible."

In remarks on the House floor, Kaptur questioned the justification of the mission at large, and said she was "highly concerned" about the way the mission had been launched.

"Surely there was time to seek congressional approval," Kaptur said of the president's decision to authorize U.S. force in Libya. "I'm highly concerned that this military intervention took the familiar pattern of launching attacks just when Congress left town to go back to our districts for a week, thus silencing our voices in Congress even more as this floor was shut down."

"How premeditated, and how irresponsible, I believe the current course of events to be," she added.

Kaptur said that while the president apparently consulted with some congressional leaders before joining the mission, who those leaders were was unclear.

"Who exactly were they?" Kaptur asked. "None of these gestures meet the spirit or letter of the law under our Constitution relating to military engagement abroad."

The president spoke with a few select leaders on March 18, the day after the U.N. authorized a no fly zone and the day before the first military air strikes began. Those leaders, according to CBS News producers, included House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Dutch Ruppersberger. From the Senate, the president spoke with Leader Harry Reid; Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin; Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen. Saxby Chamblissm, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Along with Kaptur, Republican Rep. Austin Scott raised questions about the timing of the mission last Friday, wondering, in an interview with The Hill, "Why did [Mr. Obama] wait until the day after we adjourned Congress [to launch military strikes]?"

"I believe that timing was intentional by the president," added Scott, who serves as president of the GOP freshman class.

Kaptur, in her remarks, also questioned the justification of the intervention itself, emphasizing what she believed to be a shortage of allies on the mission, and wondering, "is America to intervene wherever there is an uprising?"

"Why is America taking a military role in an internal civil conflict without a vote of Congress?" Kaptur asked. "Is this America's 21st century Monroe Doctrine, to now intervene militarily under the guise of humanitarian aid, wherever a president chooses?"

Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) expressed similar hesitations regarding the military strikes.

"The president gave a fine speech Monday night, as he certainly does, but I found him more eloquent than persuasive," she said. "I'm not satisfied that he's made a thorough case for military action in Libya."

"Does the Pottery Barn rule apply in Libya?" she asked. "If we break it, do we own it?"

Kaptur said she had written to the Obama administration requesting proof of legal authority to intervene in Libya.

Added Kaptur as her time on the floor ran out: "Mr. Speaker, on the operations in Libya, there should have been a vote here."