Now that the 9/11 perpetrators are mostly dead, America needs to rethink the legal basis for its global fight against al-Qaeda
"The leadership ranks of the main al-Qaeda terrorist network ... have been reduced to just two figures whose demise would mean the group's defeat," The Washington Post reports. What does this mean for the war on terrorism?
It'll soon be illegal.
What I mean is that the legal basis for the War on Terror is a September 18, 2001 congressional resolution. "The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons," it states. Obviously, there will be terrorists left in the world when the folks who perpetrated 9/11 are dead or arrested, and it may even make sense to wage war on them.
But doing so requires new congressional authorization.
That legal requirement may not matter in the short run. As Kevin Drum puts it, "In practice, we launched a drone war against AQAP in Yemen and no one blinked. Ditto for a military operation against Libya, which had nothing even arguably to do with al-Qaeda. In that case, Congress roused itself from its torpor just enough to growl slightly, but then fell immediately back into a coma. Legalities aside, virtually no one in Congress seems much interested in deciding whether the AUMF has had its day and should no longer be considered an all-purpose excuse for military action in any country that shares a majority religion with Afghanistan."