NSN Islamic State AUMF Brief Cited in POLITICO Morning Defense

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NSN Islamic State AUMF Brief Cited in POLITICO Morning Defense

By Austin Wright

September 19, 2014 | POLITICO 

THIS WEEK’S BIG TAKEAWAY — OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DIVIDED OVER WAR MESSAGING: The administration is divided on a messaging strategy for the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, if not divided on the war plan itself. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey made headlines when he said he’d consider recommending the use of ground combat troops in Iraq if the current approach fails — a move that would violate President Barack Obama’s no-boots-on-the-ground pledge. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry have also made statements that veered off the administration’s script.

The big question is to what extent their remarks signal substantive differences among top administration officials about how far the United States should be willing to go to stop ISIL. As for Congress, the body that’s supposed to declare war has put off until at least after the November midterm elections taking up a measure to authorize the anti-ISIL campaign, though Congress did pass the more targeted amendment authorizing the president to train and equip Syrian rebels. The failure to act on a war authorization measure essentially gives the president tacit approval to justify his airstrikes against ISIL under the 2001 Authorization of Military Force against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

But a number of think tanks and experts say the administration is on shaky legal ground,especially since ISIL has parted ways with Al Qaeda. Yesterday, the National Security Network said in a policy brief that “neither the 2001 nor the 2002 AUMF authorize the kind of sustained military campaign that is being proposed” (http://bit.ly/1p2IWDu). Third Way, another think tank, is also calling for a new AUMF: “The president’s efforts to build an international coalition to effectively defeat ISIS will be strengthened if Congress has clearly shown its support for this action,” the group said in a briefing (http://bit.ly/1ATBqAq).

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