CIA Director Leon Panetta, who President Barack Obama has nominated to be secretary of Defense, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he believes the president can unilaterally use military force, without congressional authorization to “protect our national interests.”
Panetta’s claim of broad unilateral presidential power to initiate U.S. military action absent an attack or imminent threat to the United States came in response to a question from Sen. John McCain—who said he agreed with Panetta.
The U.S. is now involved militarily in Libya even though Congress has never authorized that involvement.
“Does it worry you if the Congress begins to tell the commander in chief as to exactly … what the president can or cannot do in any conflict?” asked McCain.
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