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.
Latest in War Powers
The current scope of the executive’s authority in this space is the product of decades of “unilateralist presidencies and submissive legislatures.” Essentially, Congress has abandoned this space, and the executive, in the name of national security real or perceived, has filled it.
The outcome of the war—and the means necessary to achieve it—led to the war’s most noteworthy constitutional precedents.
The U.S. may have attempted to kill a second Quds Force commander simultaneous with the Soleimani attack, this time in Yemen. The situation underscores the confusion that besets the self-defense justification.
A new Lawfare Institute e-book, "Context and Consequences of the Soleimani Strike: A Lawfare Compilation," is now available on Kindle.
The War Powers Resolution provides expedited procedures for a very specific type of legislation. This limits how Congress can use them in regard to Iran.
The United States—through presidential aggrandizement, as well as congressional delegation and acquiescence—has given the president discretion to use force in ways that can easily lead to a massive war.
The Soleimani strike was likely within the president’s domestic legal authority to pursue. But in certain ways, it may push that authority’s limits.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced a Senate resolution under the War Powers Resolution directing "the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military" within 30 days of the enactment of the resolution.