06/21/2011 05:26 pm ET Updated Aug 21, 2011

Libya and the War Powers Act: Reality Check for the Chief Exec

[Deep inside a large white house, there is counseling...]

"Do I have to lie down?"

"Not at all, Mr. President! Not at all! Whatever is comfortable for you."

"Good -- then I'll sit."

"Sitting is fine, Mr. President. Just think of it as a conversation, nothing more than -- "

"Look, I'd rather not be here -- we both know that."

"Well, this feeling can certainly be part of our conversation."

"I'm only here because they said I had to see somebody. Something about the War Powers Act."

"That was the indicated referral, yes. Having to do, I believe, with a certain relationship? Someone named Libby?"

"Libya. And it's not a 'someone' -- it's a something. It's a country."

"'Libya.' I'll correct the records. And your relationship with this Libya?"

"No big deal. Just a... no big deal."

"And how long have you been in this relationship?"

"It's not a relationship. It's -- I don't know. Two months? Maybe three months?"

"'Three months.' That's not an insignificant amount of time, don't you agree? For something that's not a relationship?"

"I -- "

"And this amount of time doesn't trigger any sort of... feelings of obligation on your part?"

"Look -- I already told you, it's nothing. I'm not even the only one involved -- it's more a group thing."

"A group thing?"

"Yeah, a bunch of us, we all hang out together, we do things together. It's not like I'm deciding where we go, or what we do."

"You're not deciding."

"I'm just part of the group."

"I see. And what kinds of things do you decide -- as a group -- to do? With this Libya, I mean."

"Just the normal stuff."

"'The normal stuff.'"

"Surveillance. Stuff like that."

"From airplanes?"

"Of course airplanes. I never even put my boots on the ground, so how can it be any big deal?"

"And that's as far as it goes? Surveillance?"

"Sometimes I also supply... supplies. To the others."

"What kind of supplies?"

"What do you mean, 'What kind of supplies?' Supplies!"

"Fuel? Bullets?"

"It could be bullets sometimes, sure."


"Sure. But only if they need them. Sometimes the other guys run short, and I -- "

"Anything else?"

"Sometimes I'll fly the drones for them. Most of the time."

"And these drones... ?"

"They watch things. By remote control."

"That's all they do? Watch things? That's -- "

"Missiles, OK? They fire missiles! We fire missiles, and we drop bombs and we blow up buildings! Sometimes we even blow up people, OK? You satisfied now? You got what you wanted?"

"I'm sensing a lot of hostilities here."


"Precisely. The behaviors you're describing -- there are names for these behaviors. And consequences that go with those names."

"You don't understand."

"It might be nice to simply wish these names and consequences away, Mr. President, but that would hardly be realistic, would it? Not even for someone in... your position. You need to admit to these hostilities, and take ownership of them."

"You don't -- "

"Anyway, I see our time is almost up. We've covered a lot of ground for a first visit, don't you think?"

"Sure. Whatever."

"And plenty to work on for next time, yes? So tell me: What's the most important thing you need to do before our next meeting?"

"I need to find a different doc."

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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at