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State Department legal advisor: President's authority to use force is "clear"

[JURIST] Speaking Thursday to the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, State Department legal adviser William Howard Taft IV said that President Bush's authority to use force in Iraq under both US and international law is "clear":

First, it goes without saying that the President's authority to use force under U.S. law is clear. Under the Constitution he has not simply the authority but the responsibility to use force to protect our national security. Congress has confirmed in two separate resolutions in 1991 and again last fall that the President has authority to use our armed forces in the specific case of Iraq.

Under international law, the basis for use of force is equally strong. There is clear authorization from the Security Council to use force to disarm Iraq. The President referred to this authority in his speech to the American people on Monday night. The source of this authority is UNSCR 678, which was the authorization to use force for the Gulf War in January 1991. In April of that year, the Council imposed a series of conditions on Iraq, including most importantly extensive disarmament obligations, as a condition of the ceasefire declared under UNSCR 687. Iraq has "materially breached" these disarmament obligations, and force may again be used under UNSCR 678 to compel Iraqi compliance.
More of the speech is now available from the State Department.

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