President Obama privately told congressional leaders he didn't need permission from them to send approximately 300 additional soldier/advisors to help the Iraqi government battle ISIL rebels before announcing the decision in a June 19 press conference. Obama also claimed he had no plans to reintroduce ground troops into Iraq, while Secretary of State John Kerry told the press that using airstrikes against ISIL targets “may well be one of the options that are important.”
ISIL — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have fought U.S. and Iraqi government forces in Iraq, as well as Bashir al-Assad's Syrian government forces in brutal civil wars. A Wahabbist Sunni Muslim organization, ISIL was estimated to have $2 billion in assets before making major territorial gains in recent weeks, which included taking the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit.
Congressional party leaders have all but given Obama permission to ignore Congress without even a vote of their members. “All of the authorities are there. That doesn’t mean I want all of them to be used, especially boots on the ground,” Nancy Pelosi told reporters after meeting with Obama June 18. “But I definitely think the president has all of the authority he needs by dint of legislation that was passed in 2001 and 2003.”
The 2001 Authorization of the Use of Force allowed the president to go against only "those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” It's more than a stretch to claim that the ISIL forces had any direct connection to the forces that carried out the September 11 attacks, and President Obama has not made such a claim.
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Photo of ISIL rebels: AP Images