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Category Archives: AUMF: Scope and Reach

The Significance of Harold Koh’s Legal Defense of the Administration’s Interpretation of the 2001 AUMF

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Harold’s Koh’s grudging defense of the domestic legal basis for President’s Obama’s use of force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is important.  It adds little new to other defenses of the President’s position – a legal position, I have argued in past posts, is politically stupid and constitutionally imprudent but nonetheless legally . . .
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Too Soon to Assess the President’s Invocation of the 2001 AUMF as to ISIS?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 4:17 PM

Over the past week there has been much talk about the President’s invocation of the 2001 AUMF in connection with ISIS. Many (including me) expressed considerable surprise, and doubt, about the merits of that argument. Which raises the question: will anything come of objections? One view is that this ship has sailed. Writing today at . . .
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ISIL as al Qaeda: Three Reactions

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 1:52 AM

Like Bobby, Wells, and Ben, I, too, was surprised to discover that the Obama Administration’s legal theory (for the moment) appears to be that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) can be targeted under the 2001 AUMF despite its very public split from al Qaeda. That said, I think all three of my friends miss the animating premise of the . . .
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The 2001 AUMF Covers 2014 Counterterrorism Operations Against ISIS?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 10:05 PM

What Ben said. I certainly can see why the executive branch would want to adopt a reading as aggressive as this one: it nips some War Powers Resolution questions in the bud, and helps to make it more likely that, going forward, talk of any additional congressional authorization can be held in best practices terms rather than legal ones. . . .
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“The Legal Basis for Striking ISIS”

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

That’s the title of an hour-long panel discussion which will be held at noon on September 25, and hosted  by the Heritage Foundation’s Cully Stimson.  He’ll be joined by Dechert’s Steve Bradbury, and our own Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck.  More details can be found here; the event’s description is below. As the Obama Administration . . .
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A White House Trial Balloon Trying Out the 2002 Iraq AUMF?

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 10:59 PM

According to this story in the Post, an unidentified administration official–maybe the President, maybe not–has raised the possibility that the plans for a ramped-up campaign against IS will not need fresh congressional authorization because…wait for it…the 2002 Iraq AUMF remains on the books: The president “thinks he has the legal authority he needs” to increase . . .
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If We Don’t Need an AUMF for Iraq, Why Would Repeal of the 2001 AUMF Matter?

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 6:59 PM

This coming Wednesday evening, President Obama will address the country on the topic of Iraq and the Islamic State, describing his strategy and making the case to the public to support an approach that not only will involve a continuation of the ongoing pattern of airstrikes (see here for a description of the latest set . . .
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More on CIA Drone Strikes, Covert Action, TMA, and the Fifth Function

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Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Yesterday Kevin Heller and I exchanged views on the possible sources of domestic authorization for the CIA to conduct drone strikes. His two initial posts are here and here; my response is here; and the first part of Kevin’s reply (focused on whether the drone strike program counts as covert action given the traditional military . . .
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CIA Drone Strikes and the Public-Authority Justification

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Saturday, September 6, 2014 at 4:01 PM

In a pair of posts (here and here), Kevin Heller at Opinio Juris explores a very interesting question: What exactly is the domestic legal foundation for the CIA’s use of lethal force given that the 2001 AUMF refers explicitly to US armed forces only? As he points out, the question matters especially in connection with . . .
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A New Drone Strike in Somalia: Is the 2001 AUMF Needed?

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 2:49 PM

To the best of my knowledge, the U.S. government has not asserted that al Shabaab as a whole is an associated force of al Qaeda engaged in hostilities against the United States subject to the 2001 AUMF. Nonetheless, the public record reveals that we do use lethal force, from time to time, in Somalia against . . .
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The Case for a Broader ISIS AUMF

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Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Like all red-blooded national security law nerds, I have been following Jack’s excellent posts over the past week on the politics and the advisability of a potential ISIS AUMF—the last of which post, which ran yesterday, offered strategies for narrowing a potential authorization to make it more politically doable. Jack writes: “One way to make an IS . . .
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A Politically Palatable Authorization to Use Force Against IS [UPDATED]

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:20 PM

One senses growing pressure, within and without the White House, for the President to seek authorization from Congress for what he and his aides say will be a long battle against the Islamic State (IS).  Last week I outlined the political concerns in Congress and the White House, and earlier this week I argued that . . .
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Squaring a New AUMF for ISIL with the President’s NDU Speech…

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Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 1:57 PM

As Bobby has noted, Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post is reporting that the Administration is now considering more seriously whether to ask Congress for authorization to use military force against the Islamic State.  Jack has argued persuasively why it would make sense for the President to seek a congressional mandate. And it is worth noting . . .
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Why the President Should Seek Congressional Authorization for the Use of Force Against The Islamic State [UPDATE on War Powers Resolution]

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Friday, August 22, 2014 at 9:10 AM

A few days ago I discussed why President Obama is shying away from seeking congressional authorization to use force against The Islamic State (IS, or ISIS, or ISIL).  But as the aims and scope of U.S. military involvement against IS expand on a daily basis, the case for the President getting Congress formally on board . . .
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National Security Network Proposes Plan to Repeal AUMF

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The National Security Network has released a new report entitled “Ending the Endless War: An Incremental Approach to Repealing the 2001 AUMF.” The report suggests a series of measures to cap and eventually roll back the authorization, which it outlines in three major steps: Limits in time by inserting a sunset clause to put the law . . .
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The Case for Seeking Congressional Authorization for Iraq Strikes Just Grew Stronger

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Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 12:28 PM

In his WPR notification yesterday, President Obama stated that military operations in Iraq “will be limited in their scope and duration.”   But today, according to the NYT, President Obama “sought to prepare Americans for an extended presence in the skies over Iraq, telling reporters on Saturday that the airstrikes he ordered this week could go on . . .
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The Case for Seeking Congressional Authorization for the Iraq Strikes – Made by President Obama

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Friday, August 8, 2014 at 8:16 PM

It is pretty clear that President Obama today relied on Article II to attack the Islamist State (IS) in Iraq.  I have addressed the legality of such unilateral military action here and here.  I have also argued that the 2002 AUMF could be used as a basis for attacks in Iraq now.  But the administration appears . . .
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The Legal Stakes in an Article II Humanitarian Intervention in Iraq

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Friday, August 8, 2014 at 3:37 PM

Yesterday I maintained that the Iraq strikes were not legally problematic to the extent that they were justified as self-defense of U.S. persons, but said that “[i]f the Iraq strikes are conceptualized as pure humanitarian intervention, they would go further than even the Kosovo and Libya precedents, for they would lack both congressional authorization or any . . .
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Quick Thoughts on the (Domestic) Legal Basis for Air Strikes in Iraq

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 2:03 PM

As Wells notes, the Obama administration is contemplating air strikes in Iraq to protect threatened religious minorities there. Setting aside the moral and strategic merits of such strikes, how might they be consistent with domestic law? The President has three possible legal bases for the strikes. The first is the 2001 AUMF.  The problem with relying on . . .
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Air Strikes or Supply Drops in Iraq?

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The New York Times reports:  WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said . . .
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