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No U.S. Drone Strikes in Mali Without Congressional Approval
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 16 January 2013 - 9:05pm
France has undertaken a major military campaign in Mali. U.S. officials are talking about the possibility of supporting the French military campaign with U.S. drone strikes.
Congress hasn't authorized US military intervention in Mali. In particular, Congress hasn't authorized U.S. drone strikes in Mali.
Urge your Representative and Senators to publicly insist that the Administration obtain explicit Congressional authorization before conducting drone strikes in Mali.
The Washington Post reports: 
[A senior U.S.] official said contingency plans for the use of armed drones were already in place and are being reevaluated.
Without explicit Congressional authorization, the only U.S. legal authority the Administration could claim for conducting drone strikes in Mali is the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the September 11 attacks. This is the legal authority the Administration has invoked for conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The invocation of the 2001 AUMF to justify drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia is already very controversial. The invocation of the 2001 AUMF to justify drone strikes in Mali should be even more controversial.
Indeed, on November 1, the Washington Post editorial board, which supports the drone strike policy overall, and believes that US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen are legal overall, wrote: 
The Post's reporting suggests that the administration is … contemplating the use of drones in more countries where jihadist forces are active, including Libya and Mali. This raises new legal and political quandaries. 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 … most 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.
The Washington Post now notes that U.S. support for France's military campaign could "test U.S. legal boundaries"; that direct U.S. military aid to Mali is "forbidden under U.S. law because the weak rump government there seized power in a coup"; and that some fighters who may be targeted by France are "longtime foes of the Malian government and pose no direct threat to U.S. interests"  - thus, they have nothing to do with the September 11 attack and therefore the 2001 AUMF can't be invoked to justify attacking them.
If the Administration conducts drone strikes in Mali without new Congressional authorization, it would be a major setback both for efforts to bring accountability and transparency to the drone strike program and to efforts to protect Congressional authority to decide when the United States goes to war. We have a responsibility to try to draw a line in the sand in front of expansion of the drone war to Mali.
Urge your Representative and Senators to speak up.
Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,
Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy
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1. "U.S. weighs military support for France’s campaign against Mali militants," Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, January 15, 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-weighs-military...
2. "Pulling the U.S. drone war out of the shadows," Editorial, Washington Post, November 1, 2012, http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-11-01/opinions/35503416_1_drone-...
3. "U.S. weighs military support for France’s campaign against Mali militants," Anne Gearan, Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, January 15, 2013 http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-weighs-military...