White House Increases Transparency on Use of Military Force

The White House released a Presidential Memorandum titled “Steps for Increased Legal and Policy Transparency Concerning United States Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations” along with an accompanying report, “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations.”

Part One of the report focuses on “Key Frameworks Related to the Use of U.S. Military Force Overseas,” with sections addressing:

  • The Domestic Law Bases for the Ongoing Use of U.S. Military Force
  • International Law and the U.S. Use of Military Force
  • The End of Armed Conflict with Non-State Armed Groups
  • Working with Others in an Armed Conflict
  • Application to Key Theaters – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen

Part Two addresses “Key Legal and Policy Frameworks Related to the Conduct of Hostilities” with an emphasis on targeting, capture, detention, prosecution, and transfer of individuals during armed conflicts. President Obama wrote a foreword explaining the report’s purpose and future use, stating:

“I am issuing a Presidential Memorandum that encourages future Administrations to
build on this report and carry forward the principles of transparency it represents. In particular, the memorandum states that the National Security Council staff shall be asked, as appropriate, to update the report at least on an annual basis and to arrange for the report to be released to the public.”

The report is “intended to explain the domestic and international bases for the United
States’ ongoing use of military force overseas” as well as describing frameworks that his administration created to govern detention, transfer, and interrogation operations.

The White House also released a fact sheet outlining key points in the report.