In his address to the nation Wednesday night about how the United States is going to handle the growing ISIS threat, President Obama announced new airstrikes in Syria and called on Congress to give "input," but didn't ask for their authorization. Why? Apparently President Obama thinks he can use the authorization given to President George W. Bush in 2001 to go after al Qaeda. Legally, that move isn't panning out. As Eli Lake over at the Daily Beast writes, Obama's latest war is probably illegal:
Obama’s using the law that authorized attacks against al Qaeda to justify his new fight in Syria and Iraq. One small problem: ISIS and al Qaeda are at each others’ throats. Legal experts were shocked to learn Wednesday that the Obama administration wants to rely on that 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda for the new ISIS war.As a reminder, President Obama campaigned on asking Congress for war authorization back in 2008. My how things have changed.
“On its face this is an implausible argument because the 2001 AUMF requires a nexus to al Qaeda or associated forces of al Qaeda fighting the United States,” said Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “Since ISIS broke up with al Qaeda it’s hard to make that argument.”
Ideally, when beginning a new war like Obama is doing now, the president would ask Congress to declare it.
Yesterday Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States isn't "at war" with ISIS but instead has launched a "counterterrorism" operation against the army. The White House echoed that statement. The administration won't admit Obama is starting a war for two reasons. The first is political in that it upset Obama's far left base. The second is that declaring war would require Obama to ask Congress for authorization, which in return would require the President to come up with a coherent strategy and be accountable to lawmakers for implementing that strategy as planned and promised. Obama doesn't want to answer to anyone, but especially Congress.