by Travis Normand
December 28, 2016
The following article was posted about a month ago at NYTimes.com. It explains that the Obama administration has expanded its reading/interpretation of the 2001 AUMF to include Shabab in Somalia.
While some are critical of this move by the administration, it is always interesting to me to see how Congress will react and if they will step-in and say that such an interpretation of their 2001 AUMF (Congressional Authorization) is incorrect or too expansive. Or, will Congress sit back and do nothing, giving the implied authorization that such a reading is correct?
Either way, you can rest assured that the President will take the heat for having such an expansive reading, while few will blame Congress for staying silent on the issue.
I have not reposted the entire article below. I have merely reposted the parts that I found most poignant (emphasis added). To read the entire article, please visit NYTimes.com.
Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia
By Charlie Savage, Eric Schmmitt and Mark Mazzetti
November 27, 2016
WASHINGTON — The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen President-elect Donald J. Trump’s authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation.
The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.
The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts.
The Shabab decision is expected to be publicly disclosed next month in a letter to Congress listing global deployments. It is part of the Obama administration’s pattern of relaxing various self-imposed rules for airstrikes against Islamist militants as it tries to help its partner forces in several conflicts.
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Later in the summer, the administration deemed Surt, Libya, an “area of active hostilities,” after the Libyan prime minister asked for assistance in dislodging Islamic State militants from that city. The move exempted the area from 2013 rules that restrict drone strikes and other counterterrorism operations away from battlefield zones, which President Obama had announced in a major speech that year that sought to turn a page in the long-running war against Al Qaeda.
As of last week, the Pentagon had carried out 420 airstrikes against militants in Surt since August.
In Somalia, the 2013 rules limiting airstrikes away from “areas of active hostilities” still apply for now. But in practice, restrictions are being eased there in another way: Over the past year, the military has routinely invoked a built-in exception to those rules for airstrikes taken in “self-defense,” which can include strikes to help foreign partners even when Americans are not at direct risk.
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