A bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers is suing President Barack Obama for taking military action against Libya without war authorisation from Congress.
The lawmakers say Obama violated the Constitution in bypassing Congress and using international organizations like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize military force.
The lawmakers want a judge to issue an order suspending military operations without congressional approval. They said they were filing their lawsuit Wednesday against Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The plaintiffs are Democratic Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Conyers of Michigan and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and Republican Reps. Walter Jones and Howard Coble of North Carolina, Tim Johnson of Illinois, Dan Burton of Indiana, Jimmy Duncan of Tennessee, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland and Ron Paul of Texas.
Almost three months into the campaign of air strikes, Britain and its Nato allies no longer believe bombing alone will end the conflict in Libya, well-placed government officials have told the Guardian.
Instead, they are pinning their hopes on the defection of Muammar Gaddafi's closest aides, or the Libyan leader's agreement to flee the country.
"No one is envisaging a military victory," said one senior official who echoed Tuesday's warnings by Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, head of the navy, that the bombing cannot continue much beyond the summer.
IT is probably not what the designers of Google Earth had in mind, but for the rebels in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata their software has become a crucial part of the revolutionary armoury: a free battlefield system that helps them to aim mortars and pinpoint Gaddafi tanks.
Other uprisings in the Arab Spring have leant heavily on the organising powers of Facebook and Twitter, but in Libya it is Google Earth that has become an invaluable asset.
"The idea was that of an engineer named Ahmed Eyzert," said Mohammad Bashir al-Ruiyati, 35, who is in charge of artillery on Misrata's southern front.
Mr Eyzert first looked at using the system to help the rebels when they began capturing mortars and artillery pieces from Colonel Gaddafi's troops in March, he said.
The engineer was killed in fighting three weeks later, but not before he had worked out how to drop mortar shells on enemy positions by combining information from a French mortar-ranging table with the images and data available on Google Earth.
In a building behind the front lines, Mr al-Ruiyati works from a child's notebook into which he has transcribed dense conversion tables. On his computer screens he points out yellow pin markers showing all the rebel weapons positions, while other markers are used to show the enemy weapons positions. The program shows the distance between any two points, accurate to one metre, and the relevant angle.
The compass application (app) on his iPhone has also proved highly accurate, he said, with the rebels using an eight-metre length of wire run from the mortar barrel, with the iPhone on the end, to line up the weapon.
The rebels in Misrata say that despite their lack of experience they have been able to innovate their way around every problem that they have faced. In this they have been helped by the high numbers of university students, academics and professionals in their ranks, as well as the popularity of computer games in the city. Many of the rebels cite the sophisticated computer war game Call of Duty as their first resource of tactical military knowledge.
"The secret of Misrata is that from the beginning we were an organisation," said Mr al-Ruiyati.
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