Earlier this year, President Obama gave tentative support to the idea of repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq, noting that the war was over. Congress never pulled the trigger, with hawks arguing against it.
Tonight, on the eve of a new US military operation in Iraq, President Obama is arguing he doesn’t need any Congressional authorization for his new foray into Iraq, since the old AUMF is still on the books.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – CA) agreed with this assessment, saying the AUMF still applied, and that President Obama was just telling Congressional leaders what he plans to do.
President Obama has long downplayed the need for Congressional approval for his military adventures, and publicly eschewed any vote on US involvement in the attack on Libya, saying NATO’s decision to attack obliged the US to war no matter what Congress thought.
The administration’s exact intentions in Iraq remain unclear, as they have withheld public pledges trying to coax Iraqi reforms, and most recently. the ouster of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They have ruled out “combat troops,” but seem to be willing to split hairs by arguing that ground troops they do send won’t technically be combat troops.