Are the Benghazi Attackers Lawfully Targetable?
Over at Foreign Policy, Dan Lamothe reports that Rep. Duncan Hunter will introduce legislation on May 7 that would authorize the Executive Branch to target the individuals who attacked the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Hunter apparently would amend the 2001 AUMF to include the Benghazi attackers as lawful targets. The idea of cracking open the AUMF raises all sorts of political complications and domestic legal questions, but Hunter’s proposal would raise very serious international law questions as well.
Although there was (notoriously) much confusion originally about who attacked the U.S. facilities on September 11, 2012, the United States now believes that the attackers were members of Ansar al Sharia (AAS). According to the State Department, AAS has at least three chapters: Benghazi, Derna, and Tunisia. The United States seems to have concluded that while AAS in Tunisia is “ideologically aligned with al Qaeda and tied to its affiliates, including AQIM,” AAS’s chapters in Benghazi and Darna are not forces associated with al Qaeda. Indeed, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, told Congress that AAS is not covered by the 2001 AUMF. Hence Rep. Hunter’s bill.