NEW VIDEO: Chuck Todd's "Tough" Question for Obama just a Diversion
OBAMA: Chuck Todd?
CHUCK TODD: Thank you, Mr. President.
There have been a lot of questions about the constitutionality -- constitutional interpretations of a few decisions you've made, so I'd just simply ask: Do you believe the War Powers Act is constitutional? Do you believe that the debt limit is constitutional, the idea that Congress can do this? And do you believe that marriage is a civil right?
OBAMA: Well, that was a hodge-podge.
Chuck we're going to assign you to the Supreme Court, man.
I -- I'm not a Supreme Court justice, so I'm not -- I'm not going to put my constitutional law professor hat on here.
Let me focus on initially the issue of Libya. I want to talk about the substance of Libya, because there's been all kinds of noise about process and congressional consultation and so forth. Let's talk about concretely what's happened.
Moammar Gadhafi, who prior to Osama bin Laden was responsible for more American deaths than just about anybody on the planet, was threatening to massacre his people. And as part of an international coalition, under a U.N. mandate that is almost unprecedented, we went in and took out air defense systems so that an international coalition could provide a no-fly zone, could protect -- provide humanitarian protection to the people on the ground.
I spoke to the American people about what we would do. I said there would be no troops on the ground. I said that we would not be carrying the lion's share of this operation, but as members of NATO we would be supportive of it because it's in our national security interests and also because it's the right thing to do.
OBAMA: We have done exactly what I said we would do.
We have not put any boots on the ground. And our allies, who historically we've complained aren't willing to carry enough of the -- the load when it comes to NATO operations, have carried a big load when it comes to these NATO operations. And, as a consequence, we've protected thousands of people in Libya, we have not seen a single U.S. casualty, there's no risks of additional escalation, this operation is limited in time and in scope.
So I said to the American people, "Here's our narrow mission." We have carried out that narrow mission in exemplary fashion. And throughout this process we consulted with Congress. We've had 10 hearings on it. We've sent reams of information about what the operations are. I've had -- I've had all the members of Congress over to talk about it.
So a lot of this fuss is politics. And if you look substantively at what we've done, we -- we have done exactly what we said to do under a U.N. mandate and we have protected thousands of lives in the process, and as a consequence, a guy who was a state sponsor of terrorist operations against the United States of America is pinned down and the noose is tightening around him.
Now, when you look at the history of the War Powers Resolution, it came up after the Vietnam War, in which we had half a million soldiers there, tens of thousands of lives lost, hundreds of billions of dollar spent. And Congress said, "You know what? We don't want something like that happening again. So if you're going to start getting us into those kinds of commitments, you've got to consult with Congress beforehand." And I think that such consultation is entirely appropriate.
But do I think that our actions in any way violate the War Powers Resolution? The answer is no. So I don't even have to get to the constitutional question.
There may -- there -- there may -- there may be a time...
OBAMA: There -- there -- there may be a time in which there was be a serious question as to whether or not the War Powers Resolution Act was constitutional. I don't have to get to the question.
OBAMA: We have engaged in a limited operation to help a lot of people against one of the worst tyrants in the world, somebody who nobody should want to defend. And we should be sending out a unified message to this guy that he should step down and give his people a fair chance to live their lives without fear.
And -- and this suddenly becomes the cause celebre for some folks in Congress? Come on.
So, you had -- what? -- a three-parter?
CHUCK TODD: (OFF-MIKE)
OBAMA: What -- what are -- what are the other two?
CHUCK TODD: There is some question about the constitutionality of the War Powers (OFF-MIKE)
OBAMA: I'm just saying, I don't have to reach it. That's -- that's a good legal answer.