Although a separate authorization was acquired in 2002 to go to war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, it is the 2001 authorization that President Obama has relied on whenever he's felt a need to say that Congress has authorized the war with ISIS, and Congress hasn't pushed back.
Now, we learn that President Obama is interpreting the 2001 authorization to support a war against he Shabab in Somalia! The NYT reports:
The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts....If the GOP Congress didn't stand up to Obama and balance his exercise of war power, it's hard to see how it will interfere with President Trump. Any Democrats (and other nonTrumpists) who cry out about an overpowerful President acting without express support from Congress will have to answer for why they did not make this argument when Obama was building the power of the presidency.
“It’s crazy that a piece of legislation that was grounded specifically in the experience of 9/11 is now being repurposed for close air support for regional security forces in Somalia,” said Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations....
In Somalia, the United States had long taken the position that a handful of Shabab leaders, as individuals, had sufficient ties to Al Qaeda to make them wartime targets. But it has debated internally for years whether the Shabab as a whole, including their thousands of foot soldiers, can or should be declared part of the enemy....
But as American partners have been going after the Shabab in general more often without any particular focus on individuals linked to Al Qaeda, it has been harder to point to any congressional authorization for such airstrikes that would satisfy the War Powers Resolution.
As the election neared, the administration decided it would be irresponsible to hand off Somali counterterrorism operations to Mr. Obama’s successor with that growing tension unresolved. Now, as Mr. Zenko pointed out, “this administration leaves the Trump administration with tremendously expanded capabilities and authorities.”
IN THE COMMENTS: MadisonMan takes issue with my last sentence: "Answer to whom? The non-questioning press who will only harp on Trump?"