The War in Afghanistan is Over, says the President. Not, Says the Justice Department

Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered remarks before a Memorial Day service at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia, in which he celebrated the day as the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan.

For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful; it is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end. Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war. So on this day, we honor the sacrifice of the thousands of American servicemembers–men and women–who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.

Our war in Afghanistan came to an end. Well, sort of.

The United States and NATO did formally end the war in Afghanistan, amidst some ceremony, in December 2014. However, in many ways, it is hard to see that the changing of the guard was little more than the changing of a flag. And President Obama’s own Justice Department–for its part–is busily arguing in court that the war is not, in fact, over.

In the United States’ opposition to a Guantanamo Bay detainee’s “End of War” motion, the President’s lawyers write, “active hostilities” are continuing against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that the President and the Congress are “in agreement” that this is the case:

As a matter of international and domestic law, the United States currently remains in an armed conflict with al-Qaeda, Taliban, and associated forces. Petitioner Mukhtar Yahia al Warafi (ISN 117), a Guantanamo Bay detainee previously determined by this Court to be part of Taliban forces, incorrectly contends that his detention at Guantanamo Bay has become unlawful because he alleges the United States’ armed conflict against the Taliban in Afghanistan ended at the close of 2014.


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