It could be mere days until President Barack Obama orders strikes on Syria in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad last week.
Some lawmakers say Obama can’t legally use force without a vote, as was the case prior to the Iraq invasion in 2003. But it’s looking increasingly likely the president will act without waiting for authorization from Congress, just as he did in Libya two years ago.
So what, exactly, is the law?
Constitutional expert and American University professor Stephen Vladeck calls this “one of the more perversely gray areas of U.S. constitutional law.”
The Obama administration is pushing for tactical military action against the Syrian regime but the specter of the WMD debate leading up to the Iraq War, a decade ago, as others hesitant to act without firm, detailed intelligence. Ken Pollack of the Brookings Institute discusses.
Here's a primer on the legal and political intricacies currently in question:
What basis does the Obama administration cite for possible U.S. attacks on the Assad regime?
Obama said during an interview on Wednesday that the reasons for taking action were not only the Assad regime’s violation of “a well-established international norm against the use of chemical weapons,” but “America's core self-interest.”
Not only could U.S. allies (like Israel) be attacked if chemical weapons fall into the hands of terrorists, but chemical weapons “could be directed at us,” Obama said.