Charlie Savage and Bobby Chesney come on the podcast to discuss Charlie's New York Times story with Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti on the Obama administration's expanded understanding of the AUMF against al-Shabaab.
Latest in AUMF
With less than two months to go before it hands over power to the Trump administration, the Obama administration is continuing to fine-tune the legal, policy, and institutional architectures that guide its approach to the ongoing conflict with al Qaeda. Under that heading, I want to flag some important recent developments.
1. AUMF expansion: al Shabaab is now a full-fledged "associated force"
Boston University professor and Lawfare Contributor Rebecca Ingber's new article examines the doctrine of "co-belligerency" in both international law and US domestic law as authority for designating and targeting groups under the 2001 AUMF
Even though Republicans and Democrats have overwhelmingly labeled the Orlando mass-murder a terrorist attack, it’s unlikely that either side will introduce an AUMF. Both sides talk about Orlando in national security terms without being willing to step up to the constitutional plate.
These kinds of advocacy lawsuits against the President in the national security arena often have perverse effects on the resulting law. The intent is generally to force constraints onto the executive branch, but the further along this lawsuit gets, the greater the risk it will result in less, rather than more, accountability and constraint on the Executive’s power.
Charlie Savage’s piece on the legal basis for the March 5 U.S. strike against an al Shabaab training camp, which allegedly killed 150 fighters, raises the intriguing question of whether the AUMF has been stretched yet again, this time to justify U.S. operations against al Shabaab as a whole.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with four other Republican co-sponsors, introduced a broad Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
President Obama has sent 39 letters to Congress “consistent with” the War Powers Resolution requirements. The letters are a fascinating read and provide a 30,000-foot view of the Administration’s use of military force abroad.
By voting on a single sentence, Congress can give the President the symbolic support he wants in the fight against ISIL, affirm the President’s current authorities against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIL (but no more), and wipe away the old AUMFs.
Top Pentagon officials make clear that a new AUMF for ISIL would be symbolic only -- which is why Congress won't enact it.