(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 10:00 p.m. | President Barack Obama has the authority to wage war in Iraq without going to Congress, because the original use of force authorization remains in effect.
Obama said Thursday he’s “not ruling anything out” in Iraq, as rebels have swept through some of that country’s largest cities and are bearing down on Baghdad.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney appeared to walk back Obama’s comment at his briefing.
“We are not contemplating ground troops. I want to be clear about that. The president … was answering a question about airstrikes,” Carney said.
When asked about getting Congress’s permission to take action, Carney was noncommittal.
“We are in active consultation with members of Congress,” he said.
He demurred when asked directly about the 2002 authorization to use military force (AUMF). An administration spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told Yahoo’s Olivier Knox in January “the administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF.”
Hayden emailed CQ Roll Call late Thursday and to reiterate that what she said then remains in effect.
She declined to comment on what authority Obama would have to act if he decided to launch a strike.
“We support it’s repeal for all the same reasons as before, without commenting on decisions the President hasn’t made yet,” she said in an email.
Some Capitol Hill sources believe Obama could still act using other authorities, including the broad war on terror AUMF passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, even if the Iraq AUMF is repealed. Obama has used that authority for drone strikes in a number of countries.
A recent Congressional Research Service report says the AUMF in Iraq had no expiration date and has not been repealed. Therefore it remains current law, “although its continued effectiveness is questionable.
“Arguably, the president could rely on [it] to reintroduce forces into Iraq if he determined that Iraq once again posed a threat to U.S. national security.”