The memo provides the legal rationale behind the controversial January 2, 2020, drone strike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and several leaders of the militia Kata’ib Hezbollah while in Baghdad, Iraq.
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.