The one news item from today’s AUMF hearing

Consistent with the President’s recent War Powers reports, DOD General Counsel Stephen Preston confirmed that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is the only “associated force” against which the U.S. currently takes direct action (capture or lethal operations) outside the Afghan theater.  (See Preston’s prepared testimony and his response to Senator Rubio at approximately 1:14-1:15 of the hearing.)  (He further explained that the military has also conducted capture or lethal operations outside the Afghan theater against individuals who are part of al Qaeda itself (such as against some individuals in Somalia)–but such operations are distinct from actions against “associated forces.”)  Moreover, Preston testified further–consistent with previous statements, such as in DOJ briefs in the al-Aulaqi case–that even AQAP itself may be “part of” al Qaeda.  If that is so, it would mean the U.S. is not currently using the AUMF’s authority respecting “associated forces” against any entities outside the Afghan theater. 

About the Author(s)

Marty Lederman

Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Office of Legal Counsel from 2009-2010, and Attorney Advisor at the Office of Legal Counsel from 1994-2002. Member of the editorial board of Just Security. You can follow him on Twitter (@marty_lederman).