Foreign OK not needed, experts say

January 10, 1991|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- However wide the disagreement about President Bush's legal power to send U.S. troops into combat without Congress' advance approval, there seems to be next to no one arguing seriously that he must ask anyone else in the world for formal permission.

Leaving aside any diplomatic or political necessities that Mr. Bush might have to meet before going to war, several legal experts of widely

differing views agreed yesterday that no further legal authority must be sought, from the U.N. Security Council or from any allies, for an attack on Iraq.

John Norton Moore, a University of Virginia law professor and expert on international law who supports the president's authority to commit U.S. troops to "sustained hostilities," was asked whether anything further was required before an attack. "Absolutely, unequivocally, nothing whatsoever," he replied.

Bruce A. Ackerman, a Yale law professor who has joined in a court

case to try to force Mr. Bush to ask for Congress' approval for combat operations, said he had not yet heard of any "well-focused, strong, legal argument" that would require the president to get added authority from any other nation or from the United Nations or its Security Council.

Some legal experts suggested yesterday that the only legal consent Mr. Bush has ever needed -- outside of this country -- was that of occupied Kuwait, if he intends to attack Iraqi forces there. The president, those experts noted, has that from Kuwait's exiled government.

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