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US government says it’s no longer against al-Qaeda

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US government says it’s no longer against al-Qaeda


Strategic Culture
By Eric Zuesse
29 August 2016

"We’re not focused on the former al-Nusra Front [al-Qaeda in Syria]. We’re focused on Daesh [ISIS]. And that’s what we’re fighting and that’s where therefore we look and where we target"

- US Defense Department press briefing, 16 August 2016.

Central to America’s war against terrorism was al-Qaeda as being the specific target, but, on August 16th, a US Defense Department spokesperson said that al-Qaeda is no longer an enemy of the United States at all, and that only ISIS is America’s enemy in the war against terrorism. However, Congress never authorized anything but al-Qaeda to be the enemy in the war against terrorism. Consequently, President Obama is now violating the law by his no longer targeting al-Qaeda at all, and he is also ignoring the law by his targeting ISIS (as he has long been doing) without requesting a new authorization from Congress to do so – an authorization that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress would be virtually certain to grant immediately. This new war-authorization would need to rectify a key failing of the original war-authorization, by naming «jihadism» specifically as America’s enemy, so that regardless of what a particular jihadist group is, it can legally be a target to eliminate. Under the existing resolution, only al-Qaeda can be targeted, because that was the group which was ultimately determined to have caused 9/11, and because the existing war-authorization is restricted to only the organization that perpetrated that specific jihadist act. This new war-authorization would thus need to replace, instead of modify, the existing authorization, so that US military action can legally be taken against any jihadist group, and not only (as at present) against al-Qaeda.

The Congressional resolution that on 14 September 2001 authorized the US President to make war in response to 9/11, declared the President «authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001». That was subsequently interpreted to refer to al-Qaeda. Bush invaded Iraq on 19 March 2003 by declaring that Iraq supported al-Qaeda. Congress – including Hillary Clinton and America’s ‘news’ media – accepted that allegation and never challenged Bush on it, and so authorized him to invade, for 12 reasons, of which five were:

  • Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.

  • Iraq’s "continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations," including anti-United States terrorist organizations.

  • Iraq paid bounty to families of suicide bombers.

  • The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, and those who aided or harbored them.

  • The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.

In other words: One reason was that Iraq was behind «anti-United States terrorism», and another was that al-Qaeda was «known to be in Iraq», but there were five reasons in total that referred to the 9/11 event – and yet this resolution had to do with Iraq, not with 9/11.

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