This week, Congress passed the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the NDAA, which President Biden is expected to sign into law. It’s a massive bill, thousands of pages long, that provides the Defense Department with an $858 billion dollar budget for next year. Buried in the law are some key reforms (or lack of reforms) for how the United States goes to war and how it responds when civilians are injured or killed.
To discuss what the NDAA says about war powers and civilian protection, and where the legislation is silent, we have Brian Finucane, Heather Brandon-Smith, and Annie Shiel. Brian is a Senior Advisor at Crisis Group and a member of the Just Security editorial board. For a decade, he was a lawyer with the State Department where he advised the federal government on counterterrorism and use of force. Heather is a Legislative Director at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a nonpartisan organization that lobbies to advance peace, justice, and protecting the environment. Annie is a Senior Advisor at the Center for Civilians in Conflict, CIVIC, which works to develop and implement solutions to prevent, mitigate, and respond to civilian harm.