Tags: Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | Airstrikes | Syria | ISIS | counterterrorism

WaPo: Obama Blurring Policy Lines With Airstrikes in Syria

Image: WaPo: Obama Blurring Policy Lines With Airstrikes in Syria
(Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:52 AM

President Barack Obama is pushing the boundaries of the counterterrorism limitations he's imposed over the past six years by launching massive airstrikes against two terror organizations in Syria, The Washington Post reports.

The wave of bombings targeting the Islamic State (ISIS) is blurring the lines drawn up by military authorization legislation passed after the 9/11 attacks, aimed at preventing al-Qaida and its "associates" carrying out atrocities against the United States.

The terror group broke away from al-Qaida some three years ago and there are no known attacks in the pipeline planned against America by ISIS, according to the newspaper.

During the air siege against ISIS in Syria, the U.S. has deployed Tomahawk missiles launched from American warships that have destroyed targets while seemingly breaking the Obama directive demanding "near certainty" that civilians do not become collateral damage.

Last year Obama gave a speech outlining a series of restraints in the nation's counterterrorism measures, including "respect for state sovereignty," which would include Syria, while declaring that the U.S. national security involvement had returned to pre-9/11 levels.

But Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard University law professor and former Justice Department official in the Bush administration, said, "There are a lot of lines that he's drawn in the sand. Just about every one of which he seems to have crossed now.

"The reality is that security threats are his first responsibility. Between past statements and pretty-sounding principles on the one hand, and the reality of security threats on the other, every president will always address the security threats and discard the principles."

However, the Obama administration has attempted to justify the bombing in Syria on Monday night of an al-Qaida offshoot called the Khorasan group, which had had barely warranted a mention as a potential terror threat until last week, the Post stated.

Calling them an "imminent threat," intelligence officials described the group as a unit of al-Nusra, al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, which was formed just to plot attacks against Western targets.

But the administration had provided little detail about what sort of danger the group imposed, beyond that of having explosive expertise that could possibly blow up aircraft and airports.

According to the Post, White House lawyers scoured international and domestic law and the administration's own counterterrorism guidelines to warrant the attacks in Syria outside U.S. war zones.

As the basis for the justification of the air assault on the two terror groups, the White House then pointed to the two congressional Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed since September 11, 2001.

But a 2001 AUMF was aimed at al-Qaida and associates and has been denounced as outdated in light of the group's setbacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Post reported.

The 2002 AUMF was aimed at Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein, who is no longer alive.

As part of his airstrikes rationalization, the president also maintained that he has the constitutional power to protect American citizens and national security, while invoking 1973 War Powers Resolution.

Democrats in the Senate and the House are now both trying to update the military authorizations with new legislation.

Vermont Sen. Timothy Kaine wants to repeal the 2002 Iraq authorization and approve action against ISIS for one year only with certain constraints on the use of ground troops.

"Ultimately, this is about a precedent for the future," Kaine told the Center for American Progress on Tuesday. "If Congress allows this president to begin this campaign against (ISIS) . . . we will have created a horrible precedent that future presidents will no doubt use."

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President Barack Obama is pushing the boundaries of the counterterrorism limitations he's imposed over the past six years by launching massive airstrikes against two terror organizations in Syria, The Washington Post reports.
Airstrikes, Syria, ISIS, counterterrorism
588
2014-52-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 07:52 AM
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