SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The United States and Iran have had a tense relationship for the past 67 years that has only grown more tumultuous after a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general.
At the start of 2020, President Donald Trump approved a drone strike against Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
People began to question the legality of President Trump's decision to order that drone strike.
Every year, there is a U.S. military act that causes people to question whether the action was legal, says Leslie Jacobs, a professor at McGeorge Law School.
"Every year, I have a new example to use," Jacobs said.
Jacobs helped in answering some of the questions ABC10 viewers had:
1. Can the assassinations of leaders break international law?
International law does not allow for the assassination of the leaders of sovereign nations unless there is an imminent threat.
In the example of the U.S conflict with Iran, President Trump said he received evidence that suggested an imminent danger, which means it was not breaking international law.
Jacobs said that as long as the information President Trump received supports the imminent threat to the U.S., then the drone strike did not break international laws.
2. Does the president need permission from Congress to order missile attacks?
The War Powers Act states that the president should notify congress after committing armed forces to military action and withdraw within three months if Congress does not approve of the military operation nor initiate war.
Jacobs said that many presidents work around the War Powers Act because they're using air forces and drones instead of sending actual people to conduct military action.
3. Shouldn't the impeachment process and the House's vote affect the president’s ability to control the military?
The House's vote does not strip President Trump of his powers, and the process is still ongoing. Like with a criminal case, the president does not have his or her rights taken away until convicted through the Senate trial.
"It's like an indictment; there is sufficient evidence for a trial," Jacobs said.
4. Is our president acting like a dictator?
A dictator, according to Merriam Webster, is a person that holds unlimited government power.
The president still has to respond to the checks-and-balances system set up in the U.S. government, so, he is still acting as the president. However, he does not have complete control.
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