Secrecy News

Libya and War Powers

The U.S. government acknowledges that U.S. military forces were involved in “armed conflict” this year in Libya, but it does not acknowledge that they were engaged in “hostilities.”

Earlier this year, State Department legal advisor Harold H. Koh attempted to parse these distinctions, which have significant legal consequences, and to deflect some pointed questions from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  His responses to Senators’ questions for the record (pdf) from a June 28 Committee hearing were published last month.  The full hearing volume is here (pdf).