Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | January 16, 2014

House transcript: Military’s hands tied in hunting Benghazi attackers

This is one of those problems of war for which there are no “good” solutions, only bad ones that might meet one priority better than another.

One of the less-noticed points to emerge from the declassified Benghazi transcripts was highlighted by The Hill today: the military can’t just go after the Benghazi attackers using lethal force, if the attackers’ organizations haven’t been officially designated as affiliates of al-Qaeda.  That, at least, is the interpretation General Martin Dempsey told representatives the military is operating on.

Some of the organizations identified in the Senate report on Benghazi are officially considered to be al Qaeda affiliates, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  But the status of Ansar al-Sharia and the Mohammed Jamal network is murkier.  Their leaders have extensive connections to al-Qaeda personalities, but it is not clear that the U.S. considers them official affiliates of al-Qaeda.  (In fact, Ansar al-Sharia was only put on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations on 13 January 2014, three days ago.)  The UN lists the Mohammed Jamal network as an affiliate of al-Qaeda, on the al-Qaeda sanctions list, but that doesn’t necessarily meet the U.S. requirement for mounting military action against Mohammed Jamal.

This matters because of how the Congressional “authorization to use military force” (AUMF) was crafted for the Global War on Terror in 2001.  It’s still the basis for our use of military force in foreign anti-terror operations today.  And the AUMF from 2001 conceived of our war as being against al-Qaeda.  Use of drones, invoking the law of armed conflict, deploying military force, lethal and non-lethal military means – all map back to the 2001 AUMF, by which the enemy and target of military force was identified as al-Qaeda.

In the years since, the executive has held “affiliates of al-Qaeda” to be included in that designation.  But there is a whole cottage industry out there dedicated to debating whether the 2001 AUMF extends further than that.  (The articles here and here make a good start.  The best treatment I found…

See the rest On the QT…


  1. Dempsey scares me

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