President Obama’s Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding and Limiting the Use of Military Force [UPDATED]
The Administration just released five new documents relating to the use of force, including detention, in counterterrorism operations against nonstate armed groups. The most important of these is this remarkable report, which comprehensively describes the domestic and international legal bases for the United States’ ongoing use of military force overseas and some of the key legal and policy frameworks that the law and the Obama Administration have established to govern and limit such uses of force and related national security operations, such as detention, transfer, and interrogation operations. (I’ll refer to it here as the “Use of Force Framework Report,” or “the Report.”)
In addition, the President has issued a Presidential Memorandum that will–unless a future President rescinds it–require the Executive branch to build upon the Use of Force Framework Report; it directs the national security departments and agencies to prepare such a report annually.
The President also transmitted his final semiannual War Powers report to Congress, describing the basis for the current and ongoing U.S. use of military force in six nations—an account of current operations that the Use of Force Framework Report explains in much greater detail.
Fourth, the Administration has posted the unclassified portions of the August 2009 Report, issued by the special task force established by Section 5 of Executive Order 13491, to study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations.
Finally, the Department of Justice has posted the 2012 report it issued to Congress on “U.S. detention policy, including the legal basis for such a policy, as it applies to current and future terrorism detainees,” consistent with the Manager’s Statement regarding the 2012 “Minibus” Appropriations Act, Public Law No. 112-55.
In the first part of this post, I summarize some of the most important aspects of the Use of Force Framework Report. In the second part, I identify a small handful of questions that the Report does not address, and one discrete matter (about a provision of the Convention Against Torture) as to which the Report (in a footnote) errs. Continue Reading »