President Biden, on Sunday, sent a formal notification to Congress about executing airstrikes, saying his actions were “consistent” with the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
Biden’s letter was sent just days after he directed U.S. military forces to attack targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that are used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and affiliates to attack U.S. forces.
On Friday, the U.S. launched retaliatory attacks in the two countries in response to drone attacks in Jordan that killed three American soldiers. During the attacks, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said, airstrikes were conducted against over 85 targets, and after the attacks were confirmed, Biden warned, “If you harm an American, we will respond.”
In the letter, Biden said attacks he reported previously against U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq and Syria, have continued, expanding to a third country and putting U.S. personnel and Coalition forces at risk.
He also referred to the Iran-affiliated militia attack that killed three service members and injured multiple others at “Tower 22” base housing in northeastern Jordan.
In response to the continued attacks, the president stated, and at his direction, U.S. forces conducted “discrete strikes” on facilities in Syria and Iraq.
“The strikes have been taken to deter the IRGC and affiliated militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities and have been conducted in a manner designed to limit the risk of escalation and avoid civilian casualties,” Biden wrote. “I directed the strikes in order to protect and defend our personnel and assets who are in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan conducting military operations pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40). The strikes are intended to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners.”
The president also backed up the actions by referring to his constitutional authority as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Public Law 107-40, and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq written in Public Law 107-243.
Biden also said the U.S. was taking action consistent with international law and based upon the United States’ right to self-defense, written in Article 51 in the United Nations Charter.
“If necessary, I will direct additional measures, including against the IRGC and IRGC-affiliated personnel and facilities, as appropriate, to address the series of attacks against United States forces and facilities,” he wrote. “I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148).”
While the president leaned on Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs) signed in 2001 and 2002 to justify the strikes, those were approved by Congress to allow the U.S. to fight in Afghanistan and to later invade Iraq.
There is currently a bipartisan push on Capitol Hill to adopt new authorization for the current conflict. It should also be noted that Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution grants Congress the authority to “Declare War.”
Another bipartisan push is underway in the House to repeal the AUMFs from 2001 and 2002. The Senate repealed the 2002 AUMF, but the effort died in the House.
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