Latest in War Powers

International Law

The Obama Administration’s Views on the Legality of Intervention in Syria Without Congressional or U.N. Security Council Support

The Obama administration's lawyers concluded that intervention in Syria aganist Assad would be lawful under domestic and international law. But whether they were right may matter less than that Clinton is leading the presidential polls and that her former State Department lawyer has robust views about the president’s power of unilateral humanitarian intervention. 

International Law

The Obama Legal Team and the Lawfulness of Attacking Assad

Prompted by the “dissent memo” signed by 51 career State Department diplomats, several prominent law professors are debating the Obama administration's internal deliberations about the legality of intervention in Syria against Assad. But I don’t think the debate has perfectly reflected what my reporting showed.

2001 AUMF

Mullah Mansour as a "Continuous" Threat: Was the AUMF Strictly Necessary?

The DOD airstrike that may have killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour is interesting, from a legal perspective, at many levels.  From an international law perspective, as Marty Lederman explains here, it looks to be another example of action under color of the much-discussed unwilling/unable principle (unless of course there was conse

War Powers

The ISIS Lawsuit and the Perverse Effects of National Security Litigation

These kinds of advocacy lawsuits against the President in the national security arena often have perverse effects on the resulting law. The intent is generally to force constraints onto the executive branch, but the further along this lawsuit gets, the greater the risk it will result in less, rather than more, accountability and constraint on the Executive’s power.

War Powers

Do the Strikes on al Shabaab Stretch the AUMF or The Unit Self-defense Doctrine?

Charlie Savage’s piece on the legal basis for the March 5 U.S. strike against an al Shabaab training camp, which allegedly killed 150 fighters, raises the intriguing question of whether the AUMF has been stretched yet again, this time to justify U.S. operations against al Shabaab as a whole. 

Somalia

Boots on the Ground in Somalia: Acting "By, With, and Through" a Local Partner to Minimize Friction

These days, when the United States plays the lead role in using lethal force or detaining and interrogating prisoners, the force typically involves only airpower and detention-and-interrogation typically are just transient.  This has the effect of tamping down the political, legal, and diplomatic headaches that follow from using boots-on-the-ground to conduct raids and from holding detainees for the long term.  But these are not the only means by which to tamp down those frictions.

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