Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If we're ending a war, what war are we ending?

If the combat mission in Afghanistan ends next year, does that have an impact on the president's war powers?  I take this up in the New York Times:
THE defense secretary, Leon Panetta, recently announced that America hoped to end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2013 as it did in Iraq last year.  Yet at Guant√°namo Bay and elsewhere, the United States continues to hold enemy detainees “for the duration of hostilities.”   

Indeed, the “ending” of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq appears to have no consequences for the ending of detention. Because the end of a war is traditionally thought to be the moment when a president’s war powers begin to ebb, bringing combat to a close in Afghanistan and Iraq should lead to a reduction in executive power — including the legitimate basis for detaining the enemy. 

But there is a disconnect today between the wars that are ending and the “war” that is used to justify ongoing detention of prisoners.
Continue reading here.  Cross-posted at Balkinization.

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