Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz on Sunday pushed back against Democrat claims that President Donald Trump’s decision to target an Iranian general known to support attacks against American forces in Iraq was not legal.
“The president has the constitutional authority to take military actions, short of declaring war, that he and his advisers deem necessary to protect American citizens,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.
Noting that under the Constitution, Congress has the sole power to declare war but has not officially done so since World War II.
Nevertheless, Dershowitz wrote, the U.S. has waged war in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq sans formal declarations.
The latter two conflicts are being fought under a law known as the Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, which was first passed in 2002.
“To be sure, there have been congressional votes, often vague and controversial, authorizing some military actions, while others were conducted without any congressional input,” he wrote.
“And there are serious scholarly debates about whether full-scale undeclared wars are constitutional. The courts have declined to resolve that question,” he added.
“But there can be no serious debate about the president’s constitutional authority to order a single attack on an enemy combatant who has killed and is planning to kill American citizens. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama issued such orders,” he wrote.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her Democrat caucus pledging to introduce a War Powers Resolution aimed at limiting President Trump’s ability to confront Iran.
“As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe. For this reason, we are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution,” she wrote.
Dershowitz said that the decision to target Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds Force, had more legal basis than President Obama’s targeting of Osama bin Laden in 2011.