War Powers

White House Releases Annual Report and Notice Concerning Legal and Policy Frameworks for War Powers

By Rohini Kurup, Katherine Pompilio
Monday, April 18, 2022, 5:25 PM

The Biden administration recently released the unclassified portion of the annual report on the legal and policy frameworks for U.S. use of military force and related national security operations for 2021 required by Section 1264(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2018. Earlier this year, the White House released a cover letter suggesting that President Biden had delivered the report and a classified annex to Congress by the statutory deadline of March 1, but the administration did not release the unclassified portion of the report to the public as required by Section 1264 until several weeks later without any apparent explanation.

According to the report, the U.S. exercised military force in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia in 2021. The report says that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August 2021 did not change the legal or policy framework for the use of military force in Afghanistan. Further, although the U.S.-Iraq security relationship transitioned to “training, advising, assisting, and intelligence-sharing” by December 2021, the framework for the use of military force in Iraq did not change, according to the report. In both cases, the report specifies that the United States is prepared to use force against al-Qaeda and associated forces in either country. 

Section 1264, which is codified as amended at 50 U.S.C. § 1549, directs the president to submit a report on the “legal and policy frameworks for the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations” to Congress by March 1 of each calendar year. The unclassified portion of each report “shall, at a minimum, include each change made to the legal and policy frameworks during the preceding year and the legal, factual, and policy justifications for such changes, and shall be made available to the public at the same time it is submitted to the appropriate congressional committees.” 

You can read the report here or below: