When the safety and security of a nation are under threat, contemplations arise regarding the warranted use of force to mitigate the risks and target those who pose such a threat. Operation Geronimo (Operation Neptune Spear) was intended the launch a special mission to assassinate the leader and founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, with the latter being referred to by his code name Geronimo. As then-President Barrack Obama oversaw the operation, some raised questions regarding whether he had the legal authority to order its execution. Despite the criticism, since the operation’s purpose was to maintain peace in the United States and because the President is the commander in chief of the military, Barrack Obama had the legal authority to make an order.
The legality behind the President’s actions in ordering the execution of operation Geronimo lies in several essential aspects. First, after the 9/11 attacks of 2002, Congress made an authorization for the Commander-in-Chief of that time to use force against individuals who had connections to the terroristic actions of that day. Moreover, the United Nations and NATO made their respective authorizations. Second, Article 51 of the UN Charter affirms that permission to use force is a fundamental international principle supporting a nation’s right to self-defense. Such authorizations lay a foundation for the President to make a decision in favor of protecting a country against external threats.
It must be noted that the operation was not ordered after tedious preparation. An aggressive course of action was taken in order to address the problem directly without hesitation. Leading meetings of the National Security Council, President Obama created a joint action plan for the operation, and on April 29, 2011, he gave the approval to initiate its execution to kill bin Laden. The mission required precision and attention to every detail so that it could be implemented without unnecessary casualties and without causing much resistance from Al-Qaeda’s assassins.
President Obama had the legal right to order the execution of the operation because matters of national security were at stake. Because bin Laden was involved in planning and initiating terrorist attacks affecting civilians, it was necessary to take action before similar or worse events took place again. To maintain peace and facilitate a preventative system of measures to fight Al-Qaeda, it was essential to eliminate the critical authoritative figure of the terrorist organization. Besides, Article II, section 2 of the US Constitution gives the President supreme authority over the military (Legal Information Institute, 2022). Moreover, the order came several days after administrative lawyers’ paved the way for the operation and ensured that it overcame any legal obstacles. This means that no other individual in the government besides Barrack Obama could have had the legal responsibility to send the US Navy to carry out operation Geronimo.
To conclude, any matters of national security and direct threats to the safety of citizens are to be addressed with the help of a thorough plan and the decision of authorities to take action. Due to the power that the President possesses as the commander in chief of the military, Barrack Obama had the legal right to initiate the execution of the anti-terrorist operation targeting Al-Qaeda’s leader. If the operation was not ordered, the United States could have witnessed several other attacks under the leadership of bin Laden.
Legal Information Institute. (2022). Commander in Chief powers. Web.