Low on Targets, Obama Considers Killing Friends of Friends of Al-Qaida
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration is reconsidering its opposition to a new Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, the foundational legal basis of the so-called war on terrorism. That short document, passed overwhelmingly by Congress days after the 9/11 attacks, tethered a U.S. military response to anyone who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” Nearly all of those people are dead or detained.
There are two ways to view that circumstance. One is to say the United States won the war on terrorism. The other is to expand the definition of the adversary to what an ex-official quoted by the Post called “associates of associates” of al-Qaida.
And that’s the one the administration is mooting. “Administration officials acknowledged that they could be forced to seek new legal cover if the president decides that strikes are necessary against nascent groups that don’t have direct al-Qaeda links,” the Post reports. Examples of the targets under consideration include the extreme Islamist faction of the Syrian rebellion; the Ansar al-Sharia organization suspected of involvement in September’s Benghazi assault; and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed terrorist who broke with al-Qaida but is believed to be behind the January seizure of an Algerian oil field.