The White House has sent a notice to Congress outlining its legal and policy justifications for the Jan. 2 airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. This disclosure is a legally mandated reporting requirement introduced through Section 1264 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, a measure intended to increase transparency in U.S. national security policy.
Throughout history, presidents and congresses have jockeyed for control over war powers. Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the exclusive authority to declare war, while Article II names the President as “Commander in Chief” of the army, navy and militia. The jockeying reached a watershed moment of congressional assertiveness with the passage of the 1973 War Powers Act. Since then, however, presidential war-making power has been in a state of near-constant expansion—an expansion only accelerated by overseas counterterrorism actions and recent presidential military actions in Libya and Syria.