On Dec. 11, the New York City Bar Association hosted a session on “The Global War on Terrorism: Do We Need a New AUMF?” William Castle, deputy general counsel of the Department of Defense, explained why the Trump administration contends that the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) suffice to justify President Donald Trump’s ongoing war against terrorist groups.
Latest in AUMF: Scope and Reach
Together with David Remes, I presented Capt. Nathan Smith's challenge to the war against the Islamic State before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 27. Judge Thomas Griffith presided, with Judges David Sentelle and Raymond Randolph, joining in a wide-ranging discussion of doctrine and cases that touched on many national security law problems. While the court had officially granted 15 minutes to each side, the hearing lasted for more than an hour. The court has provided a recording of the argument.
[Update: Several people reached out after I posted last night, drawing attention to the fact that al-Mourabitoun (also spelled al Murabitun) apparently reunited with AQIM after its initial separation from the group. On the other hand, others reached out to point to indications that the particular leader at the center of the current storm—al Sahraoui—may still lead a splinter faction that resisted/resists the return to the AQIM fold.
As federal court and national security experts are noting, on Oct. 27, the D.C. Circuit will hear oral argument in Smith v. Trump (formerly Smith v. Obama). The case challenges the propriety of invoking the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMF) to justify the war against the Islamic State (Operation Inherent Resolve).
The White House Releases a "Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks" on American Uses of Military Force
Last year, Kenneth Anderson and I published a book entitled, Speaking the Law: The Obama Administration's Addresses on National Security Law, which is a detailed analysis of the Obama Administration's national security law views, as seen through the lens of a body of speeches given by senior administration officials.
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"
Tonight, Longwood University will host the first and only debate between Vice Presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.
We have an essay at Time.com that begins:
Tomorrow is the fifteenth anniversary of the beginning of the longest armed conflict in American history. But another significant anniversary in the “Forever War” is today, September 10, for two years ago on this date President Obama announced his “comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy” to defeat the Islamic State.
The DOD airstrike that may have killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour is interesting, from a legal perspective, at many levels.
Last week, U.S. Army Captain Nathan Michael Smith sued the U.S. Government in federal court, seeking a declaration that Obama’s war against ISIS is illegal. Jack Goldsmith and Marty Lederman have put forward competing views over whether this lawsuit is a big deal.