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News Wrap: In Letter to Obama, Boehner Questions U.S. Role in Libya Mission

June 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: NATO bombers stepped up their air campaign over Libya today, hitting close to Moammar Gadhafi’s compound. The airstrike hit Tripoli in the early morning, and a plume of smoke could be seen above the area around Gadhafi’s home.

The U.S. role in the operation was called into question today by House Speaker John Boehner. He sent a letter to President Obama telling him, by Sunday, the administration will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution, which requires congressional consent for military action beyond 90 days.

Attackers carried out a well-coordinated raid on an Iraqi government compound northeast of Baghdad today. A suicide bomber first detonated a car bomb at the entrance to the compound in Baquba. Then, gunmen stormed the building’s perimeter. Nine people, including at least three of the assailants, were killed. Also today, the U.S. military announced two American soldiers were killed in operations in southern Iraq on Monday.

The CIA is set to begin drone strikes over Yemen soon. The Wall Street Journal and others reported that today, citing unnamed U.S. officials. The secret program would target al-Qaida militants operating in Yemen. It marks a major expansion of counterterrorism efforts there. Since 2009, drone strikes have been conducted by the U.S. military, which requires the permission of the Yemeni government.

Ash clouds from two erupting volcanoes on different continents disrupted air travel around the world today. A volcano in Chile has been erupting since early June, causing at least 4,000 people to evacuate the area. It also caused air cancellations in both South America and Australia.

The second volcano is in Eritrea, spreading ash over the Horn of Africa toward Saudi Arabia. The Chilean ash cloud has grounded fights from Uruguay to Brazil to Argentina. And as the plume has drifted across the Pacific Ocean, flights between Australia and New Zealand have been grounded, stranding some 70,000 passengers.

More members of Congress called for Representative Anthony Weiner to resign today after he admitted sending inappropriate images and messages to several women. House Speaker John Boehner added his voice to the growing public debate on the scandal, telling reporters the New York Democrat should go.

Boehner’s remarks mirrored those of President Obama, who earlier told NBC’s “Today Show” “If it was me, I would resign.”

Many of the congressman’s fellow Democratic House colleagues also echoed that sentiment, but some stopped short of demanding his resignation.

REP. DIANA DEGETTE, D-Colo.: I think the president was absolutely right. I think he’s going to have to decide to do it in conjunction with his constituents. If it were me, I would resign. But, you know, that’s up to him and his constituents.

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-Mass.: I jus don’t think it’s appropriate for me to set myself up as the judge of others. Look, if this comes to a vote in the House, I’m a voting member of the House. I have a responsibility.

REP. SANDER LEVIN, D-Mich.: I think we should send a strong message to him that he should resign, and let’s see what happens.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Democratic Caucus has yet to consider taking action against Rep. Weiner. The congressman is taking a two- week leave of absence, and so far has refused to step down.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve urged Congress to support raising the nation’s debt ceiling and find a long-term deficit plan. Ben Bernanke said Republican threats to block the increase could backfire and cause disruptions to the financial markets. The U.S. is up against an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit.

After Bernanke’s speech, stocks on Wall Street still managed to hold their gains. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 123 points to close at 12,076. The Nasdaq rose 39 points to close above 2,678.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.