We've covered how President Obama needs the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to justify detention powers he has used for the past four years, but there's another reason he needs it: drones.At the heart of both issues is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which gives the president authority "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those ... [who] aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 or harbored such organizations or persons."
In May White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said that U.S. drone strikes are justified because America is "in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces, in response to the 9/11 attacks."
But former George W. Bush-era attorney John Bellinger recently declared shenanigans on that claim:
The Obama administration apparently continues to think that they have legal authority under [the AUMF] ... [T]hat it is questionable, because ... 11 years later, it's not at all clear that the drone strikes against ... people in Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia, young men who were in their 20s, who twelve years ago might have been 8 or 9 years old, were in fact part of the same organization that planned 9/11. So, the Obama administration continues to say that they have that authority under congressional authorization, but I think it's a fair question as to whether they really do.