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Category Archives: AUMF: Scope and Reach

The Obama Administration’s Legal Justification for Strikes Against the Islamic State In Syria

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Based on comments from senior Obama administration officials who spoke on “the condition of anonymity,” Charlie Savage reports the Obama administration’s legal theory for the use of force against the Islamic State. Savage says that the domestic legal justification is both the 2001 and the 2002 AUMFs: Administration officials have said that as a matter . . .
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The Draft AUMFs for the Islamic State Do Not Limit Congressional Authorization on Ground Troops, or Geography, or Associated Forces

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 8:12 AM

The two most promising Islamic State AUMFs I have seen are the one sponsored by Representative Schiff and the one sponsored by Senator Kaine.  Both drafts, in different ways, purport to limit the authorization for the President to use force against the Islamic State in at least three respects: (1) They authorize force only in . . .
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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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The Administration Should Explain Its International Legal Basis to Attack ISIL in Syria

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Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Over the last several days, Administration officials have tried valiantly to explain the Administration’s surprising 11th hour discovery that the 2001 AUMF and indeed the 2002 AUMF provide a domestic law basis for the U.S. use of force in Iraq and Syria. The abrupt volte-face in the Administration’s domestic legal position has been the subject of . . .
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Obama Administration Claims that 2002 Iraq Resolution is a Legal Basis for Air Strikes Against the Islamic State [UPDATED]

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Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 6:57 AM

I always thought the 2002 AUMF was an obvious basis for air strikes against the Islamic State, easily in Iraq and possibly (given the right circumstances) in Syria.  Today Charlie Savage reports that “the White House believes that Congress’s 2002 authorization of the Iraq war — and not just the 2001 authorization to fight Al Qaeda . . .
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We are (or Will Soon Be) at War With the Islamic State

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Secretary of State Kerry said yesterday: We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation [against the Islamic State], and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation.  I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy . . . . Though the Secretary was not thinking in legal terms, it is worth noting that his statement is . . .
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Further Reflections on the Legal Rationale For Using Force Against the Islamic State

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 7:47 AM

I had a pretty harsh reaction to the administration’s claim that Congress in the 2001 AUMF authorized force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  (For a different view, see Marty Lederman’s post.)  While I think the administration’s interpretation of the 2001 AUMF is unconvincing, I do not believe (as Bruce Ackerman appears to say today . . .
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President Obama’s Astonishing War Powers Legacy

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM

That is the topic of my essay at Time.com in reaction to the announcement yesterday that the Obama administration believes the 2001 AUMF authorizes force against the Islamic State today.  The essay begins: Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) . . .
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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: From Associated Forces to (Disassociated) Successor Forces

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Like my colleagues Ben and Wells, I’m astonished to learn this evening that the Obama administration, having previously justified 140+ airstrikes against IS in Iraq on Article II grounds alone (at least insofar as the stream of WPR reports indicated), has discovered that IS all along was covered by an AUMF…and not the 2002 AUMF . . .
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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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Not Asking the Girl to Dance

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Here’s President Obama coyly not asking Congress to dance—that is, as I put it in my post earlier today, “signal[ing] that [he] would like to dance with Congress—saying [he] will consult with her, that [he] invites her support—but [stopping] short of anything like a formal request, and he insist[ing] that he’s happy to dance alone.” In his speech tonight, Obama said: My Administration has also secured . . .
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President Obama Addresses the Nation on ISIS

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Watch it here live: Here’s the text of the speech:

“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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