This means war: Obama asks Congress to authorize military force against Islamic State

Fusion

The U.S. has carried out airstrikes against the Islamic State extremist group for the past six months, but on Wednesday President Obama finally asked Congress to make the conflict official.

Obama sent Congress a draft authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against Islamic State forces, who have violently conquered large swaths of Iraq and Syria and executed several hostages from the U.S. and allied countries.

If left unchecked, the group “will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland,” Obama wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

What’s does the authorization do?

The U.S. first launched airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria last summer without congressional approval. The administration claimed it had the legal authority to attack ISIS under the 2001 authorization of force against al-Qaeda.

In the following months, however, Obama and Congress engaged in a game of chicken over who…

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