The choices that U.S. officials are reportedly considering for a military intervention in Mali have grave implications [“U.S. weighs military aid for France in Mali,” news story, Jan. 16]. The Post reported that a senior U.S. official said, “Contingency plans for the use of armed drones were already in place and are being reevaluated.” Congress has not authorized U.S. military action in Mali. Without such authorization, the Obama administration cannot send armed drones to Mali under the War Powers Resolution.
The administration might be tempted to try to invoke Congress’s 2001 authorization for the use of force after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But as a Post editorial noted in November, “The further — in geography, time and organizational connection — that the drone war advances from the original al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan, the less validity it has under the 2001 congressional authorization. . . . [M]ost of the world is unlikely to accept an argument that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks justify drone strikes more than a decade later in Northern Africa.”
As The Post reported, some of the fighters likely to be targeted by France have nothing to do with al-Qaeda or the Sept. 11 attacks and are not a threat to the United States, so U.S. military action against them cannot be justified under the 2001 authorization.
Robert Naiman, Urbana, Ill.
The writer is policy director for Just Foreign Policy.