Marc Ambinder
National Journal
June 20, 2011

The White House acknowledged late Friday that the Pentagon’s top lawyer and the Attorney General believe that the U.S.’s military actions against Libya amount to “hostilities,” a position that contravenes a theory espoused by the administration in a white paper sent to Congress Thursday.

Still, the White House insists that the Justice Department and the Defense Department believe that President Obama’s view is a reasonable and legitimate interpretation of the War Powers Act.

A senior administration official confirmed the dispute Friday night after The New York Times reported that Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, both concluded that the scope of the U.S.’s actions in Libya do amount to the definition of “hostilities” envisioned by the War Powers Act.

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