Obama Wages Unconstitutional War, Amash Blames Congressional Leaders

"It's irresponsible & immoral."


Gage Skidmore / Flickr

As noted by other Reason writers, U.S. forces have begun bombing ISIS targets in Syria on the orders of President Obama—even though the president has no legitimate power to give such an order, absent authorization from Congress.

W. James Antle III explains why the White House's self-justifications are clearly illogical:

The Obama administration apparently believes it has the legal justification to attack ISIS under the resolution that authorized the war on terror in 2001. But that law quite specifically covers "those nations, organizations, or persons" that "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons."

"On its face this is an implausible argument because the 2001 AUMF requires a nexus to al Qaeda or associated forces of al Qaeda fighting the United States," Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, told The Daily Beast. "Since ISIS broke up with al Qaeda it's hard to make that argument."

Even the Bush administration accepted that it needed a separate authorization of force to go to war in Iraq, even though some of its officials and defenders wereasserting a connection between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein's regime. Meanwhile, President Obama is winding down the war most directly associated with the 2001 law: Afghanistan.

Antle concludes by insisting that Congress is obligated to do more to restrain the president—a sentiment shared by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.). Amash took to Twitter to blast do-nothing Congressional leadership in the wake of the Syrian bombings:

It's irresponsible & immoral that instead of debating & voting on war, congressional leaders chose to recess Congress for nearly two months.

— Justin Amash (@repjustinamash) September 23, 2014

But, as I explained previously, most Congressmen seem more concerned about the political ramifications of casting a potentially toxic vote on the war than about exercising their governmental duties.