The last time the United States formerly declared war on an adversary was all the way back in 1942. Since then, America has been involved in an astounding number of conflicts of varying lengths, all without ever officially being at war with anyone.
In our current system, the president has the ability to deploy forces around the world without anyone’s consent. That way, he (or she) is not hamstrung if an emergency occurs. But the president is required to receive approval from Congress for conflicts lasting longer than 60 days.
The U.S. has been at war with ISIS for nearly two years, without official approval from Congress. Obama believes the resolutions passed after September 11th to fight terrorism allow him to do this.
An Army captain doesn’t see it that way, and now he is suing Obama in federal court.
From The New York Times:
The plaintiff, Capt. Nathan Michael Smith, an intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, voiced strong support for fighting the Islamic State but, citing his “conscience” and his vow to uphold the Constitution, he said he believed that the conflict lacked proper authorization from Congress.
“To honor my oath, I am asking the court to tell the president that he must get proper authority from Congress, under the War Powers Resolution, to wage the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” he wrote.
The Pentagon’s top lawyers disagree with the stance, considering ISIS to be an offshoot of Al Qaeda.
Mr. Obama has argued that he already has the authority he needs to wage the conflict against the Islamic State under the authorization to fight the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, enacted by Congress shortly after the attacks.
That argument is controversial because the Islamic State is at odds with the current leadership of Al Qaeda and its affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front. Critics contend that the administration is stretching the Sept. 11 authorization too far by applying it to an organization that did not exist in 2001 and that operates far from Afghanistan.
The administration has countered that its position is legitimate because the Islamic State used to be a Qaeda affiliate in Iraq during the Iraq war. In an April 2015 speech, Stephen Preston, then the top Pentagon lawyer, argued that the fact that Al Qaeda splintered after the death of Osama Bin Laden did not mean that the authority to keep fighting each successor faction came to an end.
Congress, ever since the beginning of the conflict, has steadfastly refused to vote on an authorization of force, despite Obama’s repeated requests they do.
What do you think, Bros? Is this conflict legal?
[Via The New York Times]