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The President Has No Congressional Authorization to Use Force against ISIS in Iraq

Earlier this week, Jen Daskal, Steve Vladeck and I wrote a post explaining why the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq clearly does not apply to ISIS in Iraq (see also Wells Bennett’s post over at Lawfare). I have published a Comment in the Guardian that explains why the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force for September 11 does not either.

As I explain in that piece, a key concern is that the public and even some in Congress have been misinformed about the relationship between Al-Qaeda and ISIS. I draw on the excellent posts by Jen Daskal and Deborah Pearlstein showing how the media has frequently conflated the two organizations (and I add some examples from the past few days). I also show how the administration itself has contributed to this misinformation. As readers of Just Security, Lawfare, and Opinion Juris know, a remarkable consensus of opinion has emerged across our blogs that ISIS is not covered by the 2001 AUMF (see posts by Bobby Chesney, Jen Daskal, Deborah Pearlstein, Steve Vladeck, myself and cf. Jack Goldsmith [update: and see John Bellinger in this Defense One report)).

Using military force to help Iraq might be the wise choice (we have proponents, opponents, and agnostics among us), but we all seem to agree that the 2001 authorization for September 11th does not give the President authority to send the US military to fight ISIS.

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About the Author

is co-editor-in-chief of Just Security. Ryan is the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).