Army Capt. Nathan Michael Smith is suing President Barack Obama in an effort to dispute the legality of the war against the Islamic State.
Obama has not received new authorization from Congress to conduct both an aerial and ground war against the Islamic State. Special operations troops are deep in Syria, conducting combat missions to capture and kill high-level ISIS officials. The U.S. Air Force has been conducting strikes in Syria and Iraq, The New York Times reports.
Unmistakably, the U.S. is involved in a war that Smith, an intelligence analyst in Kuwait, thinks is unconstitutional.
“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,”Smith wrote in his complaint. Smith is represented by David Remes and Bruce Ackerman. Remes has represented Guantanamo Bay detainees.
As far as Obama is concerned, he already has the authorization he needs to keep the war effort going, based on authorization issued by Congress post-Sept. 11, 2001.
But the authorization focuses on the use of force against al-Qaida, which is opposed to the Islamic State and is quite definitely a separate entity. Moreover, ISIS did not even exist in 2001.
Yet, the administration holds that back during the war in Iraq, ISIS was at that time a part of al-Qaida. For anything not covered by the 2001 authorization, the 2002 authorization fills the gaps.
There’s been a continuous, back-and-forth debate between Congress and the administration regarding a new authorization specifically for ISIS. Obama has urged Congress to step up and take a vote on the matter, but even without the vote, he pledged the fight against the group would continue. Members of Congress are wary that a new authorization constitutes acceptance of Obama’s foreign policy machinations, which they view as counterproductive at best. Instead of facing the issue head-on, legislators have preferred to simply earmark money for the effort, bowing to and implicitly authorizing the executive’s existing activities against ISIS.
Elsewhere, however, the administration has skirted the law surrounding deployments. The air war against Libya in 2011 well exceeded the 60-day limit allowed by the War Power Resolution, which mandates the executive seek congressional authorization after that time period elapses.
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