Reprinted from The Guardian
If you listened closely during President Obama's speech to the nation on Sunday night, you would have heard him reference the fact that the US war against Isis -- which is well over a year old at this point -- is illegal and unconstitutional.
He didn't phrase it like that of course, but he did remind Americans that Congress has not authorized any military action against Isis despite the fact that we have been dropping bombs on multiple countries in an effort to stop Isis since August of 2014, and despite the fact that such military action is required by both the law and the US constitution.
Here's what Obama did say about the subject on Sunday night:
"Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists.
"For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of air strikes against ISIL targets. I think it's time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed to this fight."
He framed congressional authorization of the war against Isis as a solidarity or symbolic issue -- like the US Congress would be showing the American public unity or something -- but it's much more consequential than his deceptive wording allows. According to Article I, section eight of the US Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, not the executive branch, and under the War Powers Act passed after the Vietnam War, Congress must authorize war 90 days after any combat missions begin.
It makes no logical sense to claim that the authorization to engage in military action against al-Qaida in Afghanistan in 2001 applies to Isis in Syria in 2015, yet that is supposed argument to which the White House lawyers are clinging.