February 11, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration sent proposed legislation authorizing the use of military force against ISIS to Congress today. The administration has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS since August 8, 2014, but Congress has not yet voted on whether to authorize the campaign.  

Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

Among Congress’s constitutional authorities, there is none more important than the authority to declare war. While the administration’s proposal is a constructive one, it lacks crucial limitations. It fails to make clear that the proposed authorization will be the exclusive authority for the use of military force against ISIS, which leaves open the possibility that the executive branch will continue to rely inappropriately on the authorization that Congress passed in 2001. It lacks any geographic limitation, which means that the executive branch may interpret it to authorize the use of force far from the battlefield in Iraq. It also fails to state clearly the specific objective for which military force is being authorized, and so gives no clear picture of what it would mean to ‘win.’ If Congress grants any new authority for the use of military force, the authority must be significantly more specific and limited than the authority the administration has proposed.

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